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Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Division Two
August 9, 2022, Filed
Corey McClendon ("McClendon") appeals following the denial of his Rule 29.151 motion to set aside his convictions [*929] on two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of kidnapping. In his sole point on appeal, McClendon claims he was denied effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel did not object when, in closing argument, the State asked the jury to return guilty verdicts to support the victim. McClendon claims prejudice asserting that the trial court would have sustained such objection, and that the jury likely returned a guilty verdict out of an emotional response to the improper closing argument as a direct result of trial counsel's failure to object. Because trial counsel engaged in a reasonable trial strategy when choosing not to object during the State's closing argument, McClendon cannot prevail on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we affirm the motion court's judgment.
[**2] Factual and Procedural History
On December 28, 2011, McClendon sexually assaulted a fourteen-year-old boy ("C.M."). C.M. reported the assault to police and was taken to a hospital, where physical evidence was collected and preserved in a rape kit. C.M. could not identify his attacker in a photographic lineup, but investigators matched DNA preserved in the rape kit to McClendon through the Combined DNA Index System. The State charged McClendon with two counts of forcible sodomy and one count of kidnapping. The case proceeded to trial and the State said the following during its closing argument:
[THE STATE]: It's time to decide. Either it happened or it didn't happen. There is no in between. This jury knows it happened, and it knows that [McClendon] did it. There is plenty of evidence for that. Let [C.M.] know he was right to run straight to the police station and tell what happened. Let him know that it was okay that he was honest about everything that happened, and even when he sat here and said, I don't know. I can't pick out who did it.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
648 S.W.3d 927 *; 2022 Mo. App. LEXIS 494 **
COREY MCCLENDON, Appellant, vs. STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Honorable John N. Borbonus.
McClendon v. State, 617 S.W.3d 530, 2021 Mo. App. LEXIS 214, 2021 WL 683836 (Mo. Ct. App., Feb. 23, 2021)
closing argument, trial counsel, trial strategy, ineffective, movant, counts, failure to object, guilty verdict
Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, Motions for Postconviction Relief, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Trials, Trials, Defendant's Rights, Right to Fair Trial, Closing Arguments, Fair Comment & Fair Response