Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fifth Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Case No.
1422-CC00500 Honorable Timothy J. Wilson
M.. Dowd, Chief Judge
Shatondi Rice pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree
felony murder and one count of armed criminal action. Rice
filed a Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief which
was denied by the motion court without an evidentiary
hearing. We now consider Rice's appeal of that denial.
Rice's sole point on appeal, he argues the motion court
clearly erred in denying his Rule 24.035 motion without an
evidentiary hearing because he received ineffective
assistance of counsel. Specifically, Rice alleges that plea
counsel's failure to advise him of the possibility of a
jury instruction on the lesser included offense of
involuntary manslaughter rendered his guilty plea
involuntary, unknowing, and unintelligent. Because the motion
court did not clearly err in finding that Rice's
ineffective assistance of counsel claim did not entitle him
to relief, or to an evidentiary hearing, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
Rice was indicted as a prior and persistent felony offender
on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, the State filed an amended
information reducing the first-degree murder charge to
second-degree felony murder, and Rice pleaded guilty to
second-degree felony murder and armed criminal action. At his
plea hearing, the State detailed the evidence that would have
supported the charges at trial, including the testimony of
Doriana Jefferson, the victim's daughter. Specifically,
the State related that Jefferson would have testified she was
in her home with Rice and the victim; witnessed the two
arguing; and then heard a loud noise. Additionally, the State
would have shown that Rice was in possession of a firearm,
which he used to shoot and kill the victim. Rice acknowledged
that this evidence was "basically correct."
plea court found that Rice's pleas were made voluntarily
and intelligently with a full understanding that by pleading
guilty, he was giving up his right to a jury trial. Rice was
sentenced to concurrent life sentences with the possibility
timely filed his pro se Rule 24.035 motion for
post-conviction relief alleging that plea counsel was
ineffective for failing to advise him of the chance that the
jury could have been instructed on the lesser included
offense of involuntary manslaughter. Counsel then entered his
appearance for Rice and filed an amended motion which the
motion court denied without an evidentiary hearing. Rice
appealed, and this Court found that his amended motion was
untimely filed. Rice v. State, 482 S.W.3d 464
(Mo.App.E.D. 2016). Consequently, pursuant to Moore v.
State, 458 S.W.3d 822 (Mo.banc 2015), we remanded the
case to the motion court to conduct an abandonment inquiry.
The motion court concluded that Rice's amended motion was
untimely because he had been abandoned by counsel, and as a
result the court considered Rice's amended motion.
Nevertheless, the court again denied the motion without an
review the denial of a Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction
relief only to determine whether the motion court's
findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous. Rule
24.035(k); Dorsey v. State, 448 S.W.3d 276, 282
(Mo.banc 2014). Findings and conclusions are clearly
erroneous only if, after reviewing the entire record, we are
left with the definite and firm impression that a mistake has
been made. Swallow v. State, 398 S.W.3d 1, 3
(Mo.banc 2013). We presume that the motion court's
findings are correct. Chaney v. State, 323 S.W.3d
836, 841 (Mo.App.E.D.2010).
an evidentiary hearing is not warranted for every Rule 24.035
motion. Rule 24.035(h); see Whitehead v. State, 481
S.W.3d 116, 122 (Mo.App.E.D. 2016). To be entitled to an
evidentiary hearing, the movant's motion must (1) allege
facts, not conclusions, warranting relief; (2) raise factual
matters that are not refuted by the file and record; and (3)
raise allegations that resulted in prejudice. Id.
Courts will not draw factual inferences or implications in a
post-conviction motion from bare conclusions or from a prayer
for relief. See Johnson v. State, 406 S.W.3d 892,
898 (Mo.banc 2013) (elucidating this principle with respect
to Rule 29.15 motions).
apply the two-part Strickland test to
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims for post-conviction
relief. Johnson, 406 S.W.3d at 898 (citing
Strickland v. Washington,466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To
be entitled to relief, the movant must show by a
preponderance of the evidence that (1) his counsel failed to
exercise the level of skill and diligence that a reasonably
competent counsel would in a similar situation and (2) he was
prejudiced by that failure. Id. To overcome the
strong presumption that counsel's conduct was reasonable
and effective, the movant must identify specific acts or
omissions of counsel that, in light of all the circumstances,
fell outside the wide range of professionally competent
assistance. Id. ...