Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division
DESMOND O. DEEN, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri The Honorable
Daniel R. Green, Judge
Victor C. Howard, Presiding Judge, Cynthia L. Martin, Judge
and Gary D. Witt, Judge.
Cynthia L. Martin, Judge.
Deen ("Deen") appeals from the denial of his Rule
24.035 motion following an evidentiary hearing. Deen argues
that the motion court clearly erred in denying his claims
that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate his
mental capacity at the time of his offenses and at the time
of his guilty plea. Finding no error, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
February 2012, Deen was charged by indictment with domestic
assault in the second degree, resisting arrest, and
misdemeanor assault of a law enforcement officer in the third
degree. These charges arose after Deen threw a beer bottle at
his mother's head and then resisted the ensuing arrest by
brandishing a table leg with a protruding screw at law
enforcement officers. Deen pleaded guilty to all three
charges in July 2012. The trial court sentenced Deen to
concurrent four-year terms of imprisonment for domestic
assault and resisting arrest, and a one-year term of
imprisonment for assaulting a law enforcement officer. The
trial court suspended the execution of Deen's sentences
and placed him on probation for five years. But in 2015,
after Deen struck a public defender with whom he met for
another matter, the trial court revoked Deen's probation
and executed his sentences.
filed a timely pro se motion for post-conviction
relief. Post-conviction counsel filed a timely amended motion
in July 2016. The amended motion asserted three claims for
post-conviction relief, all based on an alleged ineffective
assistance of counsel. The amended motion claimed (i) that
plea counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate
Deen's mental capacity at the time of his offenses, which
could have established that Deen was not responsible for his
criminal conduct because of mental disease or defect under
section 552.030; (ii) that plea counsel was ineffective for
failing to investigate Deen's mental capacity at the time
of his guilty plea to possibly establish that Deen lacked the
capacity to understand the plea hearing or assist in his own
defense pursuant to section 552.020; and (iii) that counsel
at Deen's probation violation hearing was ineffective for
failing to investigate Deen's mental capacity to possibly
establish that Deen lacked the capacity to understand his
probation hearing or assist in his own defense pursuant to
motion court held an evidentiary hearing on these claims in
October 2016. At the hearing, Deen presented testimony from
his mother, his brother, and a psychiatrist named Dr.
Muskinni Salau ("Dr. Salau"), who performed a
psychiatric evaluation of Deen. Deen's mother and brother
testified that Deen was originally from Sierra Leone, and
that Deen came to the United States in 2011. Dr. Salau
discussed the medical and psychiatric records he reviewed and
detailed Deen's mental health history, including his
mental competency at the time of the offenses and at the time
of his guilty plea. Dr. Salau concluded that Deen suffered
from a mental disease or defect at the time of his offenses
that rendered him incapable of knowing the nature, quality,
or wrongfulness of his conduct. Dr. Salau also concluded that
Deen lacked the mental capacity at the time of his guilty
plea to understand the proceeding or assist in his own
defense. Dr. Salau made the same conclusion about Deen's
mental capacity at the time of his probation hearing.
plea counsel also testified at the evidentiary hearing. Plea
counsel stated that he knew Deen was from Sierra Leone
because that was a "big part" of the work he did on
the case, specifically referring to immigration issues. Plea
counsel testified that Deen did not like the United States,
that Deen wanted to go home to Sierra Leone, and that Deen
wanted to go home "the fastest way." As a result,
plea counsel focused his investigation on Deen's
immigration status. Deen cooperated with this strategy by
giving plea counsel information regarding deportation that
counsel could then pass along to the appropriate authority.
Additionally, during Deen's plea and sentencing hearings,
plea counsel confirmed that he and Deen discussed Deen's
immigration status in accordance with Padilla v.
Kentucky, which requires defense counsel to provide
advice about the possibility of deportation arising from a
guilty plea. 559 U.S. 356, 369 (2010); Chaidez v. United
States, 568 U.S. 342, 344 (2013).
counsel further testified at the evidentiary hearing that he
discussed the possibility of incarceration with Deen. Deen
relayed to plea counsel that he remembered what he did for
each offense and told counsel that he was guilty. Plea
counsel recalled that Deen stated he wanted to plead guilty.
During his interactions with Deen, plea counsel did not
observe anything about Deen's behavior that alerted him
to issues regarding Deen's mental competency, and it was
plea counsel's view that Deen understood the proceedings.
the evidentiary hearing, the motion court entered judgment
denying all of Deen's post-conviction claims. In denying
the claims relating to Deen's mental capacity at the time
of his offenses and guilty plea, the motion court cited plea
counsel's testimony that he had advised Deen of the
potential consequences a guilty plea could have on his
immigration status and that Deen wanted to return to Sierra
timely appeal followed.
review of the denial of post-conviction relief "is
limited to a determination of whether the motion court's
findings of fact and conclusions of law are clearly
erroneous." Roberts v. State,276 S.W.3d 833,
835 (Mo. banc 2009). "The motion court's findings
and conclusions are clearly erroneous only if, after review
of the record, the appellate court is left with the definite
and firm impression that a mistake has been made."
Id. We presume that the motion court's findings
are correct, and we defer to the motion court on matters of
credibility. Simmons v. State,502 S.W.3d 739, 741