Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division
LEO A. CRANFORD, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of Pettis County, Missouri The
Honorable Robert L. Koffman, Judge
Before: Karen King Mitchell, Chief Judge, and Alok Ahuja and
Cynthia L. Martin, Judges
KARENJKING MITCHELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Cranford appeals, following an evidentiary hearing, the
denial of his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief.
Cranford raises a single point on appeal; he argues that plea
counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to advise
him that his sentence for first-degree child molestation
under § 566.067 had to be served without eligibility for
parole and that his conviction of first-degree statutory
sodomy under § 566.062 required him to serve at least
85% of his sentence before becoming parole eligible. The
motion court overruled Cranford's motion on the ground
that parole eligibility is a collateral consequence of a
guilty plea about which counsel has no duty to inform a
client and, therefore, the failure to do so did not amount to
ineffective assistance. Finding no error, we affirm.
20, 2016, Cranford appeared before the plea court to enter
guilty pleas to first-degree child molestation and
first-degree statutory sodomy. At the hearing, the plea court
discussed the various rights attendant to a trial that
Cranford was relinquishing by pleading guilty; Cranford
acknowledged understanding them all and affirmed that he
wished to proceed with his pleas. Cranford advised the court
that he was pleading guilty of his own free will because he
had committed the crimes with which he was charged. The
prosecutor then established the following factual basis for
On July 29th of last year, the Defendant was in charge of the
care of the child alleged by initials in Counts I and II.
That child was two years old. While the Defendant was left in
charge of that child, the parents were planning to make a
quick run to town. When they left the home, they quickly
realized they had forgotten something, [so] they returned to
the home. When they returned, Mr. Cranford was nowhere to be
The mother initially went to look to try to locate Mr.
Cranford while the father went in to check on the child. When
the father walked in shortly followed by the mother, they
found their two-year-old laying on the bed with her diaper
pulled down and the Defendant on his knees standing-kneeling
over the child with his penis exposed.
As the father came in, initially to make contact with the
Defendant, the Defendant got up and left the home and
announced that he was leaving to go turn himself in and ran
out of the home. He shortly thereafter returned-went down to
the Sheriff's Department, walked in and notified two
separate officers that he was there to turn himself in and
indicated that he [had] almost relapsed. He says almost.
He then later was [M]irandized and confessed to walking into
the room shortly after the parents left, pulling down the
two-year-old's diaper, pulling his pants down and
beginning to fondle her vagina shortly before the parents
walked back in and interrupted the events. He was placed
under arrest and, obviously, that's what brings [this]
I note the statement that he [had] almost relapsed because
the Defendant, as alleged and as noted to the Court in Count
II, has a prior-is a prior convicted sexual offender.
the prosecutor's recitation and the plea court's
description of an "open plea," the plea court asked
Cranford if he wished to proceed with his pleas or if he
wished to withdraw them and proceed to trial. Cranford
responded, "I'll maintain my plea." The plea
court accepted the pleas and set the matter for sentencing.
sentencing, the State requested the maximum sentence
available on both counts (30 years' imprisonment) and
asked that the sentences be run consecutively. Plea counsel
sought concurrent ten-year terms. While the plea court was
discussing with Cranford its rationale for the sentence it
was about to hand down, the prosecutor noted that the
first-degree child molestation conviction was, by statute, a
"parole-free sentence." The court then noted that
if it imposed the maximum sentence, Cranford would be
"100 years old by the time [he] came out." The plea
court then pronounced Cranford's sentences:
So it is the intent of this Court to sentence you to 30 years
in the Missouri Department of Corrections on each sentence,
and I'm not going to run them consecutive to each other.
This is an AOWP,  you're going to do 30 anyway. You will
be at an age when you get out, unless the law changes, where
you will be incapable, in my opinion, of doing this conduct
in the future, which is the goal. I won't run them
consecutive because you turned yourself in and said I did it.