Yeaples v. Commonwealth, 2021-CA-0897-MR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kentucky
Writing for the CourtCLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE:
PartiesWILLIAM B. YEAPLES APPELLANT v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE
Docket Number2021-CA-0897-MR
Decision Date17 June 2022

WILLIAM B. YEAPLES APPELLANT
v.

COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

No. 2021-CA-0897-MR

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

June 17, 2022


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

APPEAL FROM BOURBON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JEREMY M. MATTOX, JUDGE ACTION NOS. 12-CR-00019 & 13-CR-00100

BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: William B. Yeaples, pro se

BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Daniel Cameron, Thomas A. Van De Rostyne Assistant Attorney General

BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; COMBS AND GOODWINE, JUDGES.

OPINION

CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE:

William B. Yeaples appeals pro se from a Bourbon Circuit Court order denying his motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure (RCr) 11.42. Yeaples claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in entering a guilty plea to

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multiple charges. He further alleges that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard in denying his RCr 11.42 motion. Upon review, we affirm.

The underlying facts of the case are set forth in the opinion of the Kentucky Supreme Court on direct appeal:

On Christmas day, 2011, Appellant, William B. Yeaples drove William Ross and John Haynes to the home of Lee Richardson While at the residence, Ross and Haynes robbed and shot Lee and his son Joe Richardson. Lee died as a result. After the shooting, Yeaples drove away with Haynes and Ross in tow
Yeaples was subsequently arrested and indicted for complicity to murder, complicity to first-degree assault, and tampering with physical evidence. By information, Yeaples was also charged with complicity to first-degree robbery. At a pre-trial bond hearing, the lead investigating detective testified that Yeaples admitted to driving Ross and Haynes to and from the Richardson home, but denied knowing that they intended to rob, shoot, or kill anyone. The Commonwealth averred that Yeaples procured the murder weapon and provided it to Ross prior to the murder. This was based in part on Haynes' statements to the police
In exchange for a recommended sentence of 30 years' imprisonment, Yeaples pled guilty to all charges in both cases with the exception of complicity to murder, which was amended down to facilitation to murder. After entering his plea, Yeaples requested to waive his pre-sentence investigation and proceed immediately with sentencing. Considering the severity of the charges, the trial court postponed final sentencing.

Yeaples v. Commonwealth, No. 2014-SC-000129-MR, 2015 WL 1544302, *1 (Ky. Apr. 2, 2015).

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Two months later, Yeaples filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. In that motion, he asserted that: "1) trial counsel never advised him that pleading to lesser included offenses was a potential option; and 2) he complained to Ms. Crabbe [his attorney] that the facts recited in the guilty plea were inaccurate, but that Ms. Crabbe told him to plead to those facts because 'they were just the Commonwealth's version of the facts.'" Id. at *2.

At the hearing on the motion,

Yeaples acknowledged that he had authorized Ms. Crabbe to engage in plea negotiations with the Commonwealth and that he discussed his plea agreement with Ms. Crabbe and a mitigation specialist. Ms. Crabbe testified that she discussed lesser included charges and potential defenses with Yeaples at various stages of the trial court proceedings.
Ms. Crabbe also acknowledged that when Yeaples expressed reservations with the facts presented in the plea agreement, she informed him that it was her experience that the court would not accept the plea if Yeaples informed the court that he did not engage in those actions. Accordingly, the case would continue to trial. Ms. Crabbe further stated that it became clear over time that the Commonwealth was building a strong case and that she informed Yeaples that a sentence of life without parole was a possibility. She specifically noted that Yeaples' co-defendants and others agreed to testify against him.

Id.

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After hearing the testimony of Crabbe and Yeaples, the trial court denied the motion, finding that the guilty plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily. Based on the testimony, it found that Yeaples was aware of lesser-included offenses and defenses; that Yeaples knew Crabbe had contacted the Commonwealth about the possibility of pleading to lesser-included offenses, but the Commonwealth had rejected those proposals, and that Crabbe's testimony about her conversations with Yeaples was credible.

In its written findings on the docket sheet, the trial court reiterated its verbal finding, based upon Crabbe's testimony, that Yeaples was aware of his defenses and of potential lesser-included offenses. The court further found that he was aware of the facts to which he was pleading guilty and acknowledged their truth under oath. The trial court found that the facts as testified to at the hearing gave a strong indication that the facts he...

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