Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
SHAWN C. HANNA, Movant-Appellant/Cross-Respondent,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Respondent/Cross-Appellant.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HOWELL COUNTY Honorable William E.
Hickle, Special Judge
Steffen Rahmeyer, J.
motion court granted in part Shawn C. Hanna's
("Movant's") Rule 29.15post-conviction relief
following an evidentiary hearing. The State appeals that
partial grant of relief and Movant cross-appeals the denial
of relief on other grounds. We affirm the partial grant of
relief. Because of that affirmance and the relief granted of
a new trial, we do not address Movant's other claims of
was convicted of killing his father, Ralph
Hanna. In its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Judgment, the motion court noted that this case was
tried to a jury three times -- the first and second trial
ended in a hung jury. In the point relevant to this decision,
Movant claimed that his trial attorneys were ineffective for
not interviewing, investigating, subpoenaing, and calling
Nadia Black to testify. After noting the standard it used to
ascertain whether counsel was effective, the motion court
correctly noted that Missouri courts require Movant to show:
"(1) the witness could have been located through
reasonable investigation; (2) the witness would have
testified if called; and (3) the testimony would have
provided a viable defense." Williams v. State,
8 S.W.3d 217, 219 (Mo.App. E.D. 1999).
motion court found the following with regard to Ms.
[S]he lived due south of the Hanna residence at the time of
Ralph Hanna's death, directly across Highway N. The
morning of November 16, 2003, she was in her bed reading a
book. She heard a loud shot fired at 8:30 a.m. She
immediately looked at her clock and it said 8:30. She either
heard one or two shots, testifying, "So I wasn't
sure if I heard one or two very close together. I think just
one because the first one seemed louder, but I'm not
positive." The sound of the shot came from the north.
She testified, "I just thought well, somebody is off
hunting to the north, but I thought they're awfully close
because it was very loud." She lived on ten acres with
road frontage to Highway N, directly across the highway from
the Hanna home. Upon hearing the shot, she testified, "I
chirped up and am thinking that's across the street,
that's from the north. And it was extremely loud."
Ms. Black was questioned repeatedly in her deposition
concerning the time that she heard the shot, and she answered
"I remember looking immediately at my clock, and it said
8:30. It could have been 25 after or 35 after, but 8:30 is
what I saw on my clock."
"It was a little round Westclock beige colored . . .
[t]o my left on the night table. . . . But I looked
immediately, and it was set on 8:30. As I say, it was a
mechanical clock, not electric, so it could have been 25
after, 35 after, but it was 8:30."
["]Q. Is it possible that it could have been sooner than
8:30? A. I don't think so. My clocks were rarely ever
"I'm not - can't be possible positive that it
was exactly 8:30 it could have been a couple minutes either
"I'm certain it was 8:30. But being absolutely
honest and knowing a lot of mechanical scientific things, it
wasn't an anatomic [sic] clock. It wasn't precise. It
could have been a minute or two off and still said
Ms. Black testified after the shooting incident involving Mr.
Ralph Hanna, two law enforcement officers came to interview
her. Ms. Black told police she heard one shot and an echo or
two or three shots very close together. Ms. Black told police
the shot was coming from the north. When asked whether she
was ever contacted by Movant[']s trial attorneys, she
No, I never was. The only people who ever contacted me
regarding this were the two officers who came I don't
know if it was that day, probably the next day. And I
don't remember if they were county or state. But they
were the only ones who ever contacted me.
Ms. Black still lived in the same house at the time of
Movant's 2010 jury trial. Ms. Black would have been
willing and able to testify at Movant's trial had she
At the postconviction relief hearing, Ms. Anthony [(one of
Movant's trial attorneys)] testified she recalled Ms.
Black told police she heard a shot at 8:30 a.m. Ms.
Anthony's recollection was Ms. Black was not confident of
her timing. Ms. Anthony agreed that Ms. Black gave a
different time than Mr. Fann testified to at trial. Ms.
Anthony acknowledged the timeline was very important to
Movant's defense at trial. Ms. Anthony testified the
State had inconsistent timelines from other witnesses as well
in the case. She asserted that she had never talked to Ms.
Black, but that her investigator had talked to Ms. Black. Ms.
Anthony's recollection is that Ms. Black was not
confident about the time that she heard the shot. Ms. Anthony
testified that she asked her investigator to gather some
facts about Ms. Black's statement and that she considered
those facts that the investigator gathered and reported to
motion court noted the contradictions in Ms. Anthony's
testimony at the evidentiary hearing with statements made by
Ms. Anthony on the record to the trial court on December 17,
2010, hours after the jury returned its guilty verdict:
MS. ANTHONY: Obviously last night I did a lot of soul
searching and thinking about my performance in the case . . .
During the pendency of [Movant's] case, my office had no
investigator. We were the only office in the entire state
that had no investigator when this case started. I then got a
part-time investigator who I was not allowed, under the state
rules, to have to work overtime. I failed to request special
funds for an investigator on this case. My part-time
investigator made multiple trips to Poplar Bluff to
investigate this case, but the reality is the attorneys in
the case ended up doing a lot of the leg work, or trying to
do the leg work, in addition to handling their cases because,
by the time a part-time investigator drove to Poplar Bluff,
his time was gone.
Additionally, I cannot find any place in the file where
anyone talked to Nadia Black who was a witness that the
police officers spoke to, who said that she heard the shots
at 8:30. I think the timeline is critical. I didn't get
the case until 2007, but that is no excuse for me. I should
know and be able to tell this Court whether or not Nadia
Black is even alive. And if she would have been unavailable,
and therefore her hearsay statements would have been
admissible, and that is a failure on my part.
motion court found credible the statements made by Ms.
Anthony on December 17, 2010, and further found the
statements at the evidentiary hearing lacked credibility:
Hours after the jury verdict, at the time that the trial was
fresh on her mind, Ms. Anthony stated clearly as an officer
of the court that she simply failed to investigate Ms. Black
as a potential witness and did not even know whether Ms.
Black was even alive. Her recollection more tha[n] five years
later at the time of the April 29, 2016 postconviction relief
hearing that she had talked to her ...