Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
WILLIAM E. COPHER, Movant-Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Respondent.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY HONORABLE LAURA J.
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., P.J.
E. Copher ("Copher"), appeals from a judgment of
the motion court denying his amended Rule 29.15 motion, which
claimed that trial counsel was ineffective for advising
Copher not to testify in his own defense. Finding no merit to
Copher's point relied on, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
to our disposition in the current appeal, the evidence
adduced at trial was as follows. Victim and Copher had an
intimate relationship. Copher would "at times" stay
with Victim at her home.
January 3, 2012, Victim had an appointment to perform
community service as part of the terms of her probation.
Copher did not believe her, instead declaring that she was
going to see a male friend of hers. Copher became angry and
accused Victim of cheating on him. He took Victim's cell
phone and car keys.
the next several days, the couple had several more arguments,
during which Copher physically assaulted Victim. Victim
suffered a black eye; a busted lip; numerous cuts and
abrasions on her body; cuts to her scalp from Copher stomping
on her head; and burns on her legs, arms, and torso from hot
butter splatters. Copher threatened Victim with a
pocketknife, holding it to her throat and threatening to
"cut [her] face up[;]" lit a propane torch
threatening to burn Victim's face so that "nobody
would want [her] anymore[;]" and threatened to kill
Victim with a hammer. Copher also hit Victim's dog when
the dog tried to protect Victim, causing Victim to kick
Copher in the face. Copher responded by repeatedly punching
Victim in the face. Copher threatened that if Victim
contacted police, he would kill her and dismember her body.
morning of January 5, 2012, Victim told Copher she had to
attend her weekly meeting with her probation officer. Upon
arrival at the probation office, Victim began crying. Her
probation officer saw her black eye and noted that Victim was
"very frazzled, crying, nervous[, ]" had apparent
blood in her hair, and had an injury to one of her ears. The
probation officer took Victim to file an order of protection
and to write out a statement for the sheriff's
department, which Victim kept instead of leaving with the
that day, sheriff's deputies went to Victim's home to
speak with her about the report. Deputies observed
Victim's black eye, she was visibly scared and shaking,
and told the deputies that she did not want to cooperate
anymore because she was in fear for her life. Victim refused
to file the report or allow photographs to be taken of her
injuries. After checking the house to ensure Copher was not
there, the deputies left.
deputies were traveling from the residence, a car carrying
Victim's probation officer and other probation personnel
flashed its lights at the patrol car to get it to stop.
Deputies were told there was concern for Victim's safety,
so they returned to Victim's residence. Victim's
probation officer convinced her to give a report to the
deputies, and have her injuries photographed. The deputies
and probation officer also noted the house was in disarray,
with broken mirrors throughout the house.
was charged by amended felony information with the class C
Felony of domestic assault in the second degree for choking
Victim; the class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon (a
knife); and the class D felony of domestic assault in the
third degree for punching Victim in the face.
commenced on September 9, 2013, with Victim, her probation
officer, and law enforcement testifying. Before the State
rested its case, the trial court inquired as to whether
Copher wanted to testify in his own defense. The following
colloquy took place:
THE COURT: We're on the record. [Defense counsel], have
you had [a] chance to visit with your client about his
presenting any evidence?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Yes, Judge. And I have talked to him about
his right not to testify. And I guess, I mean, he's
decided not to testify. The State apparently has not rested
THE COURT: Okay.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: So obviously he will have to make a final
decision when the State ...