Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State ex rel. Hawley v. Beger

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

April 12, 2018

STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. JOSHUA D. HAWLEY, Missouri Attorney General, Relator,
v.
THE HONORABLE JOHN D. BEGER, Circuit Judge of Texas County, and MARCI MOSLEY, Circuit Clerk, Texas County Circuit Court, Respondents.

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

          Before Lynch, J., Scott, J., and Francis, Jr., J.

         HABEAS RECORD NOT QUASHED

          PER CURIAM.

         Relator seeks certiorari review of the record in Jennings v. Norman, Texas County Case No. 16TE-CC00470, wherein Respondent Judge Beger ("habeas court") issued a writ of habeas corpus in favor of Bradley Jennings, who was serving time for murdering his wife Lisa. We issued the writ as a matter of course and right. State ex rel. Hawley v. Heagney, 523 S.W.3d 447, 450 (Mo. banc 2017). After careful review and consideration, we find no error of law apparent on the face of the record and thus decline to quash the record of the habeas court.[1]

         Background

         Lisa Jennings died of a single gunshot wound in the couple's home in the early hours of Christmas Day 2006.[2] The marriage had been an unhappy one in recent years and Lisa planned to leave Jennings. In the hour preceding her death, an argument ensued during which Jennings accused her of seeing another man. According to Jennings, he then went out to his shop to have a beer and tinker around. He returned, stuffed Christmas stockings, and went to check on Lisa. He entered the master bedroom and saw her in the closet with a head wound. He moved her body, held her briefly, and then called 911.

         Lisa had been shot in the head. Ballistics traced a nearby bullet to Jennings's revolver, which had been found under Lisa's leg. Other testing showed gunshot residue ("GSR") on Lisa's hands and none on Jennings's hands. Local officials (coroner, prosecutor, and sheriff's department) ultimately ruled the death a suicide.

         Dissatisfied, a family member asked Highway Patrol investigator Daniel Nash to look into the case. Nash reviewed the evidence, reconstructed the crime scene, and opined that Lisa did not take her own life because the gun and Lisa's hand and arm did not exhibit blood and tissue "blowback" that would have been predicted had she pulled the trigger.[3]

         Several months after Lisa's death, Nash obtained the bathrobe that Jennings had worn that night. Nash sent the robe to the Highway Patrol lab with a request for blood, DNA, and GSR testing. Nash also went to the lab and witnessed the blood and DNA testing, which yielded inculpatory evidence later used against Jennings at trial.

         The lab's GSR test on the robe ("GSR test"), performed by a different criminalist, yielded facially exculpatory results. These were faxed to Nash's office, but never passed on to anyone - prosecution or defense - involved in the criminal proceedings against Jennings. At a jury trial where Nash was the State's key witness, Jennings was found guilty of killing Lisa and was sentenced to prison. He appealed, see Jennings, supra, and moved for post-conviction relief, see Jennings v. State, 406 S.W.3d 52 (Mo.App. 2013), but neither challenge was successful.

         In 2015, Jennings's new counsel discovered the GSR test and negative results. Jennings petitioned for habeas corpus, charging in part that nondisclosure of the GSR test violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).[4] The habeas court credited Jennings's evidence; concluded that Brady had been violated; and ordered that Jennings's convictions be vacated and he be released from custody "unless the Missouri Attorney General schedules [Jennings] for retrial within 120 days."[5]

         Principles of Review

         "A lower court's grant of habeas relief is reviewed by a writ of certiorari." Heagney, 523 S.W.3d at 450 (citing State ex rel. Nixon v. Sprick, 59 S.W.3d 515, 518 (Mo. banc 2001)). Our supreme court describes certiorari review as "limited to determining whether the lower court acted beyond its authority in granting habeas relief, based solely on a review of the record." Id. The habeas court will have exceeded the bounds of its authority if the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.