Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
ROBERT W. BERRY, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY Honorable Jennifer
Growcock, Circuit Judge
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., P.J.
W. Berry ("Berry") appeals the motion court's
denial of his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief after
an evidentiary hearing. Finding no merit to his point relied
on, we affirm the judgment of the motion court.
and Procedural Background
reviewing a motion court's judgment on a Rule 24.035
motion, we defer to the motion court's credibility
determinations (explicit and implicit), viewing the evidence
in the light most favorable to the motion court's
judgment. Spicher v. State, 547 S.W.3d 579, 583
(Mo.App. S.D. 2018). We recite other evidence as necessary
for context and comprehensibility.
November 2010, a young girl (with whom Berry had considerable
interactions) reported that Berry had sexually abused her.
The proper authorities were contacted, and investigations
began into the allegations. When Berry's wife
("Wife') learned of the accusations, she took her
children and left the couple's joint residence.
already had a tumultuous relationship with Wife's mother
("Victim"), and was convinced it was Victim who had
reported the allegations of sexual abuse to the
authorities-it was not.
January 9, 2011, Victim and her husband had just finished
with church. Victim's husband dropped her off at their
home, and then went to the hospital to attend to a medical
ailment. Meanwhile, Berry had secretly entered their
home. He brought two guns and a crowbar. Berry
took the couple's dog into a bathroom, shot it in the
neck, and closed the door behind him. He turned off all the
lights (including the light on the outside entry way), except
for a small light in the kitchen.
came in the front door, and saw Berry emerge from the
hallway. He immediately started shooting at Victim, hitting
her several times in the head. Victim tried to get away to
the living room, but Berry followed and kept shooting. Victim
was hit again, this time in the arm. She tried to call for
help, but discovered that her phone was disabled. In
desperation, Victim rushed at Berry in the kitchen, and tried
to physically fight him off. Berry beat Victim over the head
with his rifle, continuing to do so as Victim retreated into
the living room. There, Berry hit Victim's head so hard
with the rifle that the rifle fell apart in pieces onto the
ran out the front door. Victim tried to close and lock the
front door, but Berry re-emerged and began forcing the door
open. When Victim pushed back, Berry shot through the door at
Victim. During the struggle, Berry resorted to bashing Victim
over the head with a crowbar. Victim tried to barricade the
door by pulling her couch in front of it but Berry forced the
door open again. She reached to close it when Berry fired and
shot her through the hand. Victim got the door closed, and
succeeded in barricading it with the couch.
retreated out the back door and tried to reach a
neighbor's home. She got half way across the yard, and
was maneuvering through a barbed wire fence, when she
suddenly felt Berry put the barrel of his gun to the side of
her head. He shot her in the head twice, at point-blank
Victim got away again, and continued her retreat along the
darkest areas of the barbed-wire fence. She looked and
listened for Berry. When she thought she was at a sufficient
distance from him, she desperately sprinted to her
neighbor's house. She quickly explained the situation to
the neighbor, who called the authorities. When police
arrived, Victim identified Berry as her assailant and passed
out. Officers found significant corroborating evidence of the
events herein described at the scene.
fled in his car. He shaved his head and acquired a wig,
women's clothing, and a road atlas. Berry made it to
Arkansas by the time authorities caught up with him, and led
the police on a high-speed car chase before he was
apprehended. Police found blue jeans stained with
Victim's blood in his car.
was charged by Information, in Case No. 11CT-CR00014-01, with
the class A felony of assault in the first degree (Count I);
armed criminal action (Count II), and the class B felony of
burglary in the first degree (Count III), for offenses
committed on or about January 9, 2011. Berry was subsequently
charged in Case No. 13CT-CR00701-0l with the unclassified
felony of attempted statutory sodomy of a child less than
twelve or in the alternative the unclassified felony of
attempted enticement of a child, and two counts of the class
B felony of child molestation in the first degree for events
occurring between August 1, 2010 and November 30, 2010. These
matters were consolidated for trial under case number
public defender ("plea counsel") was subsequently
appointed on Berry's behalf. The record indicates that
plea counsel commenced with a vigorous ...