State v. Mease, No. 72846

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHOLSTEIN
Citation842 S.W.2d 98
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Darrell J. MEASE, Appellant.
Decision Date24 November 1992
Docket NumberNo. 72846

Page 98

842 S.W.2d 98
STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
v.
Darrell J. MEASE, Appellant.
No. 72846.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
Nov. 24, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 18, 1992.

Page 102

Craig A. Johnston, Columbia, for appellant.

William L. Webster, Atty. Gen., Breck K. Burgess, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

HOLSTEIN, Judge.

On May 15, 1988, the bullet-riddled bodies of Lloyd Lawrence, his wife, Frankie Lawrence, and their grandson, William (Willie) Lawrence, a nineteen-year-old paraplegic, were found on the Lawrence property in rural Taney County. On March 16, 1989, a six-count information was filed charging defendant Darrell J. Mease with three counts of first degree murder, § 565.020, 1 and three counts of armed criminal action, § 571.015, all arising out of the homicides of the Lawrences. A change of venue was taken to Greene County. The count charging defendant with murder of Willie Lawrence was severed and tried separately. A jury found defendant guilty and assessed the death penalty. The trial judge sentenced defendant to death. A Rule 29.15 motion was filed, heard and overruled. The appeals were consolidated. Rule 29.15(l ). Because defendant was sentenced to death, this Court has jurisdiction. Mo. Const. art. V, § 3. The judgments are affirmed.

Page 103

On direct appeal defendant claims error in (1) admission of his confession, (2) the admission of the testimony of Mary Epps, (3) the admission of photographs and a videotape of the victims, (4) improper argument by the prosecutor, (5) failure to admit evidence of "reverse victim impact" showing Lloyd Lawrence had allegedly raped his daughters, and (6) six allegations of error in giving or failing to give jury instructions. In the appeal from the post-conviction motion defendant asserts four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

FACTS

Defendant gave a confession. In addition, his girlfriend, Mary Epps, testified against defendant. The facts recited below are taken largely from these two sources.

Defendant and Lloyd Lawrence became acquainted in 1987 when defendant was employed to do carpentry and farm work on the Lawrence property in rural Taney County. During their acquaintance, Lawrence and defendant became involved in a scheme to manufacture methamphetamine, also known as "crank." Defendant was a user of the drug when it was available. Lawrence apparently knew the formula and the process for making methamphetamine. He was to share this knowledge with defendant.

By late 1987, defendant had not been taught the trade, and the relationship became strained. The breaking point came when Lawrence gave defendant some unusual looking pink-colored crank. After defendant had ingested the drug he became very sick. This episode caused defendant to believe that Lawrence intended to harm him. Due to his belief that "things were getting pretty dangerous," defendant and his girlfriend left the Taney County area in late December of 1987. But before leaving Missouri, defendant took four pounds of crank and four bottles of a chemical used in the manufacturing process, all belonging to Lloyd Lawrence, placed them in a backpack, and hid them near Reeds Spring, Missouri.

From Missouri, defendant and Epps travelled to Palmdale, California, pawning items along the way to support themselves. After reaching California, they spent a week or two with relatives. Defendant and Epps then went to Lone Pine, California. In February of 1988, defendant received about $12,000 cash, the net proceeds of a loan defendant obtained by mortgaging a house he owned in Palmdale. Because defendant had no identification, a car was purchased in Epps' name, and the two left California for Arizona.

In Phoenix, Epps purchased a Bennelli .12-gauge shotgun for defendant, again due to defendant's lack of identification. In March, Epps was contacted by police in Cottonwood, Arizona. They indicated her mother wanted her to call home. When she telephoned, Epps' mother said that Lloyd Lawrence was looking for defendant and intended to kill him.

Between late March and early May of 1988, defendant and Epps began a somewhat circuitous trip back toward Missouri, living in a camper and making several stops along the way. In late March, defendant bought an H & K Model 91, .308 assault rifle in Alexandria, Louisiana. Shortly after the gun was purchased, defendant stated he "needed to settle things with Lloyd, or we'd be running all our life."

In early May, Epps and defendant stayed in Arkansas for a time. Finally the two camped near Chadwick, Missouri, on May 9 or 10, 1988. Defendant went to Reeds Spring and retrieved the drugs from where they were hidden. He brought them back to the Chadwick campsite and buried them. While staying at the Chadwick campground, defendant told Epps that if Lawrence was staying at the cabin in rural Taney County that weekend, defendant "was going to have to kill him."

On the evening of May 13, 1988, Epps drove defendant to a location on a county road just inside Taney County, a short distance from where U.S. Highway 65 crosses Bear Creek. She was instructed to check back each of the next two days to see if some orange-colored ribbon had been tied to the trees underneath the U.S. Highway 65 bridge that crosses Bear Creek. If she observed the ribbon, she was to drive north

Page 104

on Highway 65 a short distance and he would be waiting for her there. When Epps dropped defendant off he was wearing camouflage clothing, had camouflage paint on his face, was carrying a backpack, and was armed with knives, a .357 Smith & Wesson pistol, the .12-gauge Bennelli shotgun, and the H & K .308 rifle. Defendant's ammunition included both double-aught buckshot and slug ammunition for the shotgun.

On the first night, defendant went to the house of Rocky Redford, near the Lawrence property, to "settle a score." Redford was not home, so defendant spent the night in a barn. The next morning, he went to a hillside from which he could observe the Lawrence property. From his vantage point, he observed a cream-colored pickup truck arrive and remain for some period of time. Defendant assumed the driver of the pickup was a lookout for Lloyd Lawrence. At some point during the day, Lloyd Lawrence spoke to the driver, and the truck left.

Later, defendant began to approach the cabin, at one point getting close enough to hear a radio inside. However, defendant startled some birds. Out of concern that Lloyd or Lloyd's dogs would be alerted, he withdrew to a point near a creek on the same property, where he spent the night.

Early in the morning of May 15, defendant constructed a blind of cut tree branches and placed them in a semicircle near a large tree, about fifteen feet from a road leading from the Lawrence cabin to where the road forded a small creek. Defendant hid in this blind for several hours.

At about noon, the Lawrences approached defendant's position, riding four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles. Willie was driving fast and was the first to pass defendant's position. Because Willie was paralyzed due to a 1986 car accident, his feet were tied to the handlebars by the shoe laces to keep them on the vehicle. Some distance behind and driving slower were Lloyd and Frankie, both riding on one vehicle. As Lloyd came even with defendant's location, defendant shot Lloyd, then Frankie, then Lloyd again using the shotgun, loaded alternately with buckshot and slugs. Their vehicle went forward slowly and came to a stop in the creek. At that point, defendant came out of the woods.

By that time, Willie had turned around and was returning toward the scene. It was then that defendant shot Willie. Using the Bennelli .12-gauge shotgun, still alternately loaded with double-aught buckshot and slugs, defendant then shot each of the three victims in the head at point blank range. Defendant took Lloyd's wallet, a watch, and two rings. Six hundred dollars was removed from the wallet, and the wallet was hidden under a log.

At the prearranged location, defendant was picked up by Epps. The two first fled to Illinois, then to Colorado, Nevada, and eventually to Arizona, where they pawned the guns in Phoenix. They stayed there through the remainder of 1988. By that time, they were beginning to run out of the money which defendant had obtained from the loan on his home in California.

In January, 1989, defendant was arrested in Arizona on two felony warrants issued on nonsupport charges in Stone County on May 19, 1988. In addition, a Taney County arrest warrant for unlawful use of weapons had been issued on June 16, 1988, and was outstanding. Defendant was returned to Missouri where he gave a confession and was charged with the homicides.

I.

Defendant attacks the admission of his confession in evidence on two grounds. First, he claims the statements were obtained as a result of a pretextual arrest. Second, he argues that the statements were elicited after defendant had requested counsel. He claims that as a result, the statements should be excluded because of a violation of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and similar provisions in the Missouri Constitution.

A.

Incident to both issues, defendant makes the argument that the trial court's

Page 105

order failed to recite that the confession was a knowing and intelligent relinquishment of a known right or privilege, relying on State v. Bittick, 806 S.W.2d 652 (Mo. banc 1991). The order overruling the motion to suppress stated, "Court finds beyond reasonable doubt that defendant was lawfully arrested; that he was properly advised of his rights; that his statements were given freely and voluntarily; and that they were not the result of force, threats or promises."

This Court recently rejected the argument that Bittick requires the precise words "knowing and intelligent waiver" in a trial court's ruling denying a motion to suppress in order for the...

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118 practice notes
  • State v. Jackson, No. SC93108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 24, 2014
    ...to this temptation is a reference to what a “reasonable juror” in a criminal case must or must not find. For example, in State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992), the Court surveyed the state's extensive evidence of deliberation and held that “[n]o rational fact finder could conclude t......
  • Storey v. State, No. SC 85980.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 2005
    ...this point relied on. Trial counsel is not ineffective for failing to shop for experts who will testify in a certain way. State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98, 114 (Mo. banc 1992). Counsel's strategy was to rely on lay witnesses with a solid expert to tie everything together. Storey's counsel, Ms.......
  • State v. Deck, No. 80821
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 1, 1999
    ...123 (Mo. banc 1998); State v. Clemons, 946 S.W.2d 206 (Mo. banc 1997); State v. Ramsey, 864 S.W.2d 320 (Mo. banc 1993); State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Hunter, 840 S.W.2d 850 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Ervin, 835 S.W.2d 905 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Powell, 798 S.W.2d......
  • State v. Wise, No. 73648
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 21, 1994
    ...erred in refusing to submit an instruction listing nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. The trial court properly ruled. State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 918, 113 S.Ct. 2363, 124 L.Ed.2d 269 (1993); State v. Wacaser, 794 S.W.2d 190 (Mo. banc 1990); MAI-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
118 cases
  • State v. Jackson, No. SC93108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 24, 2014
    ...to this temptation is a reference to what a “reasonable juror” in a criminal case must or must not find. For example, in State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992), the Court surveyed the state's extensive evidence of deliberation and held that “[n]o rational fact finder could conclude t......
  • Storey v. State, No. SC 85980.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 2005
    ...this point relied on. Trial counsel is not ineffective for failing to shop for experts who will testify in a certain way. State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98, 114 (Mo. banc 1992). Counsel's strategy was to rely on lay witnesses with a solid expert to tie everything together. Storey's counsel, Ms.......
  • State v. Deck, No. 80821
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 1, 1999
    ...123 (Mo. banc 1998); State v. Clemons, 946 S.W.2d 206 (Mo. banc 1997); State v. Ramsey, 864 S.W.2d 320 (Mo. banc 1993); State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Hunter, 840 S.W.2d 850 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Ervin, 835 S.W.2d 905 (Mo. banc 1992); State v. Powell, 798 S.W.2d......
  • State v. Wise, No. 73648
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 21, 1994
    ...erred in refusing to submit an instruction listing nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. The trial court properly ruled. State v. Mease, 842 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. banc 1992), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 918, 113 S.Ct. 2363, 124 L.Ed.2d 269 (1993); State v. Wacaser, 794 S.W.2d 190 (Mo. banc 1990); MAI-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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