Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LACLEDE COUNTY Honorable Kenneth M.
Hayden, Circuit Judge
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., JUDGE
Henderson ("Henderson") appeals from the judgment
of the motion court denying his amended Rule
24.035 motion to set aside his conviction of
first-degree murder. In one point on appeal, Henderson
asserts the motion court erred in denying his post-conviction
motion, without an evidentiary hearing, because plea counsel
was ineffective for failing to inform him that filing a
motion to suppress statements he gave to law enforcement
would constitute a viable defense to the charged crime.
Because the motion court's denial of Henderson's Rule
24.035 motion without an evidentiary hearing was not clearly
erroneous, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
"facts"-for purposes of our review-are those
allegations of fact contained in Henderson's amended Rule
24.035 motion, excluding from consideration such allegations
as are refuted by the record or are mere conclusions.
Lowery v. State, 520 S.W.3d 474, 478 (Mo.App. S.D.
2017). We set forth facts not otherwise imputed by this
standard as necessary for context.
was charged by amended information with the class A felony of
murder in the first degree (Count I), and armed criminal
action (Count II). The information alleged that "on or
about June 22, 2013, in the County of Miller, State of
Missouri, [Henderson] after deliberation, knowingly caused
the death of [victim], by stabbing her[.]"
entered into an Alford plea agreement with the State
whereby the State would dismiss Count II-armed criminal
action-and waive the death penalty, in exchange for
Henderson's plea of guilty to Count I.
hearing was held on November 21, 2014. In response to
questions from the judge, Henderson stated that no one had
made him any promises, or threatened, or coerced him into
pleading guilty; he understood all his rights attendant to a
jury trial; he had sufficient time to discuss the matter with
his attorneys; his attorneys had done everything he asked
them to do, including investigating the matter and discussing
potential defenses, and the consequences of his guilty plea;
there was nothing he wanted his attorneys to do that they had
not done; and in all respects, he was satisfied with their
representation. These admissions were also contained in the
plea agreement, entered into evidence as Exhibit A, and
Henderson confirmed to the trial court that the signature on
the plea agreement was his, and that all of the statements
made in the plea agreement, both typewritten and handwritten,
plea court then indicated the range of punishment for the
charge of murder in the first degree was life in prison
without eligibility for probation or parole. Henderson voiced
his understanding of the range of punishment.
plea court, reciting its recognition that Henderson would be
making an Alford plea, confirmed Henderson's
understanding that if the case were to proceed to trial, the
State's evidence would be that on or about June 22, 2013,
Henderson, after deliberation, knowingly caused the death of
victim by stabbing her. Henderson expressed his understanding
of the State's evidence, and confirmed he had the
opportunity to review all of the State's evidence before
entering into the plea agreement. Henderson affirmed that the
State's evidence was consistent with the facts as read,
that if the State presented that evidence at trial, there was
a reasonable likelihood that a judge or jury would convict
him of felony first-degree murder; and in order to accept the
benefit of the negotiated plea, wished to enter an
Alford plea of guilty to the class A felony of
plea court accepted Henderson's Alford plea of
guilty and entered separate "Findings of Facts by the
Court, " finding that: Henderson understood the charges
against him and the consequences of his plea; Henderson
voluntarily, freely and intelligently waived his rights;
Henderson understood and assisted his attorneys; Henderson
was ably and competently assisted by his attorneys; there was
no probable cause to believe Henderson received ineffective
assistance of counsel; Henderson had no mental disease or
defect defense; Henderson's plea of guilty was made
freely, voluntarily and intelligently; and there was a
factual basis for Henderson's plea.
Henderson's waiver of the sentencing assessment report,
the trial court sentenced Henderson to life imprisonment in
the Department of Corrections, without the possibility of
probation or parole.
January 23, 2015, Henderson timely filed a pro se
Rule 24.035 motion. On January 26, 2015, the motion court
appointed the public defender to represent Henderson. An
entry of appearance was filed on April 6, 2015, and a
thirty-day extension was granted for filing an amended
motion. The transcript of the guilty plea and sentencing
hearing was filed on June 17, 2015. An amended motion was
filed on July 20, 2015.
amended motion, Henderson asserted plea counsel was
ineffective for failing to "file and litigate a motion
to suppress [Henderson]'s alleged confessions on the
basis said statements were rendered involuntary by what
amounted to promises of leniency by the interrogating
November 22, 2016, the motion court entered its
"Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and
Judgment." The motion court found that after review of
the amended motion and all files and records in the case, as
well as the underlying criminal case, that the records
conclusively showed that Henderson was not entitled to
relief, and was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. The
motion court sustained the State's objection to the
evidentiary hearing, and ...