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Morrison v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

October 24, 2017

HERBERT W. MORRISON, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Ellen H. Ribaudo

          KURT S. ODENWALD, Judge.

         Introduction

         Herbert W. Morrison ("Morrison") appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying his Rule 24.035[1] motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Morrison pled guilty to multiple charges and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. On appeal, Morrison contends that the motion court clearly erred in denying his Rule 24.035 motion without an evidentiary hearing because plea counsel was ineffective for pressuring him to plead guilty. Because Morrison testified that he was content with plea counsel at both the plea hearing and the sentencing hearing, the record refutes his claim that his guilty plea was involuntary. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the motion court.

         Factual and Procedural History

         The State charged Morrison with nineteen separate counts including: three counts of possession of child pornography; two counts of first-degree child molestation; three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy; two counts of first-degree promoting child pornography; two counts of first-degree statutory rape; three counts of second-degree statutory rape; two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor; one count of second-degree statutory sodomy; and one count of second-degree child molestation. The charges against Morrison arose mostly from allegations by M.M., Morrison's adopted daughter. M.M.'s anticipated testimony would purportedly detail incidents where Morrison sexually abused M.M. and forced M.M. to perform sexual acts while M.M. was between the ages of five and eighteen. The State also intended to introduce photographs and sexually explicit images to support M.M.'s statements, including forty-four CDs, most of which contained child pornography. On the morning of Morrison's scheduled trial, Morrison entered a blind guilty plea on all nineteen charges.

         At the plea hearing, the trial court questioned Morrison extensively regarding his knowledge of the plea and his counsel. Morrison testified that he had plenty of time to speak with plea counsel, was satisfied with plea counsel's services, and was not threatened or promised anything to plead guilty. The trial court also explained the charges against Morrison, the range of punishments, and Morrison's rights. Morrison subsequently plead guilty to all charges. The State described the factual basis for the offenses and Morrison agreed that the stated facts were substantially correct. The trial court accepted the plea and found that Morrison entered into the guilty plea freely, intelligently, and voluntarily.

         At the subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court asked Morrison more questions about his plea. The following exchange occurred:

Q: Did you have enough time to talk to [plea counsel] before you entered your pleas at that time?
A: I did.
Q: Did he do everything you asked him to do?
A: Yes.
Q: Did he do anything you told him not ...

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