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Brooks v. Wallace

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 21, 2018

THOMAS BROOKS, Petitioner,
v.
IAN WALLACE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN M. BODENHAUSEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the petition of Thomas Brooks for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         I. Procedural Background

         Petitioner Thomas Brooks is presently incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional Center pursuant to the sentence and judgment of the Circuit Court of Saint Louis City. On March 3, 2014, petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder, § 565.021, Mo. Rev. Stat., one count of armed criminal action, § 571.015, Mo. Rev. Stat., and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, § 571.070, Mo. Rev. Stat. Petitioner did not have an agreement with the State regarding sentencing. Guilty Plea Trans. [Doc. # 10-1 at 22]. The trial court sentenced petitioner to concurrent terms of imprisonment of eighteen years, ten years, and seven years. Judgment [Doc. # 10-1 at 16-19]. Petitioner did not appeal his conviction and sentence, but did file a timely motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035. Pro Se Rule 24.035 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 30-37 ]; Amended Rule 24.035 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 42-58]. The post-conviction court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing. Findings of Fact, Concl. of Law & Order [Doc. # 10-1 at 59-64]. On December 15, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Brooks v. State, No. ED102520 (Mo.Ct.App. Dec. 15, 2015) [Doc. # 10-4]. On May 25, 2016, petitioner timely filed his § 2254 petition, in which he asserts four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

         II. Factual Background

         Javon Durham died on March 19, 2012, from a gunshot wound sustained in the course of a purported drug deal. Earlier that day, Durham and Markeith Brown made arrangements to buy three pounds of marijuana from drug dealer Marshall Burrage. Guilty Plea Trans. [Doc. # 10-1 at 23]; Amended Rule 24.035 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 46]. Petitioner accompanied Brown and Durham to the meeting spot. Petitioner was carrying a pistol, even though he had previously pleaded guilty to felony unlawful use of a weapon and was on probation at the time of this incident. Brooks v. State [Doc. # 10-4 at 5]. The State contended that Brown, Durham, and petitioner planned to rob Burrage and that petitioner brought the pistol for that purpose. Guilty Plea Trans. [Doc. # 10-1 at 23]; State's Sent. Mem. [Doc. # 10-1 at 10]. Burrage drove to the meeting spot, accompanied by his cousin Dell, who was seated behind the passenger seat and was also armed. Amended Rule 24.035 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 51]. Durham got in the front passenger seat of Burrage's vehicle while petitioner stood outside. At some point, petitioner showed his gun and tried to get in the vehicle. Id.; see also Brooks v. State [Doc. # 10-4 at 5] (petitioner “displayed [his] weapon in an agitated state”]). In response, Dell fired two shots. Amended Rule 24.035 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 51]. Petitioner also fired multiple shots. Brooks v. State [Doc. # 10-4 at 5]. A bullet entered Durham's right lower back and transected his heart and both lungs before exiting his upper left chest. Amended Rule 24.025 Motion [Doc. # 10-1 at 51]. According to the State, it was unclear which weapon fired the shot that killed Durham. State's Sent. Mem. [Doc. # 10-1 at 14].

         At the guilty plea proceeding, the prosecutor recited the following facts the State was prepared to prove at trial: Brown and Durham agreed to meet a drug dealer to exchange $2, 000 for three pounds of marijuana; petitioner accompanied Brown and Durham to the meeting location; petitioner carried a weapon for the purpose of assisting him in the facilitation of the drug deal; and Durham was shot and killed in the course of the drug deal. Guilty Plea Trans. [Doc. # 10-1 at 23]. The court then engaged in the following colloquy:

The Court: Mr. Brooks, is what the Circuit Attorney said true?
The Defendant: Yes, ma'am.
The Court: Did you do what the Circuit Attorney said you did?
The Defendant: Yes, ma'am.
The Court: Did it happen the way the Circuit Attorney said it happened?
The Defendant: Yes, ma'am.

Id.

         The prosecutor then set forth the range of punishment for each offense: Count I, second-degree murder, had a range of punishment of 10 to 30 years or life imprisonment; Count II, armed criminal action, carried a mandatory minimum sentence of three years to life imprisonment; and Count III, unlawful possession of a firearm, had a range of punishment of one day to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5, 000. Id. at 24. The court then asked whether petitioner understood the punishment he faced if he went to trial, to which petitioner replied that he did. Id. The prosecutor informed the trial court that the State intended to recommend a sentence of twenty-five years. Id. at 24. This recommendation had not previously been conveyed to petitioner or his lawyer. Id. The court asked petitioner whether he understood that the State wanted petitioner to receive a twenty-five year sentence. Petitioner answered that he did understand. Id. The court then asked petitioner the following questions regarding his possible sentence:

The Court: Has anyone promised you anything about your sentence?
The Defendant: No, ma'am.
The Court: Has anyone promised you that you will get probation or what sentence you will receive?
The Defendant: No, ma'am.
The Court: Do you understand that you cannot take back your guilty plea because you do not like ...

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