Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Brian H.
S. ODENWALD JUDGE.
Tate ("Tate") appeals from the trial court's
judgment, entered after a jury found him guilty of one count
of first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action,
and one count of unlawful use of a weapon. In his sole point
on appeal, Tate alleges that the trial court plainly erred in
failing to sua sponte disqualify trial counsel due to an
apparent conflict of interest. Because Tate's argument is
not cognizable on direct appeal, we deny Tate's appeal
and affirm the judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural History
was tried in September of 2017 for crimes allegedly committed
by him in August of 2015. Evidence was adduced at trial that
Tate was driving a black vehicle with Michelle Jefferson
("Jefferson") riding as the
passenger. Jefferson had been smoking marijuana and
drinking. As Dennell Jones ("Jones"), Quincy Pirtle
("Pirtle"), and Victim were walking down the
street, Tate drove past them. Victim identified Tate to
Jones. Tate circled the block and accelerated towards the
three men. Tate exclaimed "What's up now, b**** a**
n*****" Tate shot at Jones, Pirtle, and Victim through
his driver's side window. Victim died as a result. Jones
and Jefferson both testified regarding the shooting and
Tate's involvement. Pirtle was unable to identify the
shooter. Tate's phone records suggested that Tate was not
where his alibi placed him at the time of the shooting, but
instead was near the scene of the shooting.
Morris ("Morris") was called to testify on behalf
of the State at trial. Morris testified about Tate's
possible motive for shooting Victim. Morris was Victim's
half-brother and was familiar with Tate. When asked about his
prior criminal history, Morris testified that trial counsel,
whose first name is Jolene, had represented him in two prior
STATE: And [Morris], before we talk about the case I have to
go over your past criminal history, okay, real quick. You
pled guilty to felony distribution of a controlled substance
back in 2009 in St. Louis County, is that right?
MORRIS: Yes, sir, and Jolene was my lawyer on that.
STATE: Okay. And back in 2009 you pled guilty to trafficking
drugs, second degree, in St. Louis County, is that right?
MORRIS: Yes, sir. Jolene was my [counsel] on that, also.
STATE: All right. Back in 2016 you pled guilty to misdemeanor
resisting arrest in St. Louis City, is that right?
MORRIS: Yes. Melinda Ward is my [counsel] on that.
counsel did not object ...