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Wallace v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

April 16, 2019


          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Paula Perkins Bryant



         Anthony Wallace ("Wallace") appeals from the motion court's denial of his Rule 29.15[1]motion seeking post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. The trial court convicted Wallace on five counts finding that Wallace broke into a woman's car, drove away with the woman, attempted to have the woman perform oral sex on him, injured the woman, and left the woman naked and semi-conscious. We affirmed Wallace's competence to stand trial in a previous appeal. Wallace now presents three points on appeal alleging the motion court erred in denying his Rule 29.15 motion because both trial and appellate counsels were ineffective. Specifically, Wallace contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise mitigating evidence at his sentencing. Wallace asserts that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise sufficiency-of-the-evidence claims for robbery in the second degree and attempted forcible rape. Because the trial court was fully Informed of Wallace's mental challenges at sentencing, and because the record contains substantial evidence supporting the required elements of robbery in the second degree and attempted forcible rape, we affirm the motion court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural History

         Wallace approached a car parked outside a bar with the engine running. A woman ("Victim") who had been drinking inside the bar earlier was sleeping in the car. A security video showed Wallace trying to open the car door and knocking on the window. Wallace walked away and came back with a large object, which he used to break the driver's side window. Wallace entered the car and drove away while Victim was inside the car.

         Victim woke to the sound of the car window breaking. Victim asked Wallace to let her out of the car and offered him money. Wallace punched Victim in the face several times and told her to "shut up." Wallace then took out his genitals and tried to force Victim's head toward his groin. Wallace told Victim to suck his penis. Victim resisted. To escape, Victim jumped from the moving car and ran up some stairs toward what she thought was a church. Wallace followed, grabbed Victim, and forced her back into the car. Wallace got back in the car and began to drive.

         While Wallace was driving. Victim grabbed the steering wheel causing it to collide with a parked vehicle. Victim ran from the car, but Wallace caught up to her in an alley. Victim could not recall anything after Wallace caught up with her again. A man who lived nearby heard Victim scream and saw Wallace pulling on Victim's clothes. The man called the police.

         Police arrived and found Victim naked and semi-conscious in the alley. Victim suffered a fractured nose, fractured eye sockets, bleeding on the brain, a blood clot, and numerous scrapes and bruises. Hospital staff performed a rape kit, which was negative for seminal fluid.

         Police found Victim's car less than one block away from where they found Victim. From inside and around the car, police seized a yellow skull cap, a purse with blood on it, a black jacket a black shoe, and the deployed air bags. A DNA analyst identified the DNA of three individuals on the cap, with Wallace as the major contributor. The DNA analyst also matched Wallace's DNA to DNA recovered from the driver's side airbag of Victim's car. Victim viewed a photographic lineup and identified Wallace's photograph.

         The State charged Wallace with one count each of assault in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, attempted forcible rape, attempted forcible sodomy, and kidnapping. The case commenced to trial.

         Before trial, Wallace's trial counsel moved to declare Wallace incompetent to stand trial. Trial counsel offered the report of Dr. Rachael Springman ("Dr. Springman") to support a finding of incompetency. The circuit court ordered an evaluation by Dr. Tracey Fintel ("Dr. Fintel"), a forensic examiner with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The circuit court then held a competency hearing. At the competency hearing, both doctors testified that they had reviewed Wallace's special school district records, his health and criminal records, as well as the police reports in the present case. Both doctors evaluated Wallace in person, and both concluded that Wallace had mild mental retardation and antisocial personality disorder. Additionally, Dr. Springman found that Wallace's IQ is 59.

         Dr. Springman administered three objective tests, including the Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (the "CAST-MR"). The first part of the CAST-MR, called understanding case events, evaluated whether Wallace could recount the details of his arrest in a clear and coherent manner. Wallace answered ninety-five percent of the questions correctly, which is consistent with a person who is mentally competent. The second part of the test, the skills to assist the defense, addressed the functions of an attorney. Wallace scored sixty percent, which falls between competency and incompetency. On the third part of the test, basic legal concepts, Wallace scored sixty-four percent, which also falls between competency and incompetency.

         Based on the objective tests and her interview with Wallace, Dr. Springman opined that Wallace was not competent to stand trial at the time of the evaluation. Dr. Springman found that Wallace had difficulty understanding several things: the concepts of maximum and minimum sentences, the role of courtroom personnel, the relation of the paperwork containing his charges to the reality of the charges, the weight of DNA evidence and its effect on options for approaching his defense, the meaning of the word "attempted" in some of the charged crimes, and some of the statements police officers made during Wallace's interrogation. Dr. Springman did not believe Wallace had the ability to understand court proceedings. However, Dr. Springman believed Wallace could be restored to competency with training and education.

         Dr. Fintel conducted a forensic interview of Wallace, but she did not administer any objective-competency tests. Dr. Fintel evaluated Wallace's memory for recent events, attention, and concentration; she found no deficits. When discussing Wallace's criminal charges with him, Dr. Fintel believed Wallace understood and appreciated the seriousness of the charges against him. Dr. Fintel had reviewed Dr. Springman's report. Dr. Fintel testified that Wallace's understanding of the roles of court personnel seemed improved from the time Wallace saw Dr. Springman. Wallace understood legal concepts even if he did not know the precise terms for them. Dr. Fintel observed that Wallace was dissatisfied with trial counsel and he did not trust trial counsel, but Wallace understood he needed to tell trial counsel everything truthfully in order to be represented adequately. Dr. Fintel believed Wallace's lack of trust in trial counsel stemmed from Wallace's antisocial personality disorder. Wallace also understood the role of witnesses, that he had the option of testifying or not testifying, and the role of the jury. Dr. Fintel concluded that Wallace did not lack mental fitness to proceed.

         The circuit court considered the testimony of Drs. Springman and Fintel, as well as both of their reports, and concluded Wallace was competent to stand trial. The circuit court then placed Wallace's case on the trial docket. Wallace waived his right to a jury trial. After a bench trial, the trial court found Wallace guilty of one count of assault in the first degree, one count of robbery in the second ...

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