Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. JOSHUA D. HAWLEY, Missouri Attorney General, Relator,
THE HONORABLE JOHN D. BEGER, Circuit Judge of Texas County, and MARCI MOSLEY, Circuit Clerk, Texas County Circuit Court, Respondents.
PROCEEDING ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
Lynch, J., Scott, J., and Francis, Jr., J.
RECORD NOT QUASHED
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.
Jennings died of a single gunshot wound in the couple's
home in the early hours of Christmas Day 2006. 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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). 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."
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 ...