Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thompson v. Ames

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

November 8, 2019

Michael S. Thompson, Petitioner Below, Petitioner
v.
Donnie Ames, Superintendent, Mt. Olive Correctional Complex, Respondent Below, Respondent

          Kanawha County 17-P-130

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Michael S. Thompson, by counsel Matthew A. Victor, appeals the Circuit Court of Kanawha County's April 4, 2018, order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent Donnie Ames, by counsel Benjamin F. Yancey, III, filed a response in support of the circuit court's order.[1] On appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in denying habeas relief because the trial court failed to provide a hearing upon his pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea, he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and his indictment for first-degree robbery was defective.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         In February of 2010, petitioner was indicted on one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery.[2] Both crimes were related to the death of James Gillespie that occurred in November of 2009 at his home in South Charleston, West Virginia. Two attorneys, Herbert Hively and Dennis Bailey, were appointed to represent petitioner. In March of 2010, trial counsel filed motions requesting petitioner undergo an independent examination and a psychological/psychiatric evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial and his criminal responsibility. The trial court granted the motions, petitioner underwent testing, and he was found competent to stand trial and criminally responsible.

         While preparing for trial, trial counsel received letters from three inmates housed in the same regional jail as petitioner and his co-defendant. In these letters, the inmates alleged that they had spoken with the co-defendant who bragged that he committed the murder and that he either threatened petitioner to go along with the murder or that petitioner did not participate in the murder. Trial counsel obtained permission to contact these individuals and sent a private investigator to interview them.

         On June 3, 2010, the parties entered into a plea agreement with the terms that petitioner would plead guilty to first-degree murder in return for the State dismissing the count of first-degree robbery and standing silent at sentencing. On June 4, 2010, the trial court accepted petitioner's guilty plea to first-degree murder. At the plea hearing, the trial court held the following exchange with petitioner concerning his trial counsel:

Q: Mr. Hively and Mr. Bailey have gone over with you the State's evidence in this case?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Gone over the discovery with you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: They've made a-talked to you about the events of this evening?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: They have made an investigation of these facts?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: They have done everything that you think they should do to properly represent you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: You are completely satisfied with their representation?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: They've told you that if you want to go to trial on Monday, that they would be prepared to try this case for you on Monday morning; is that correct?
A: That's correct.

         Petitioner also offered the following testimony regarding his voluntariness of accepting the plea agreement:

Q: Has anyone promised you a lenient sentence or made any promises to you other than that which is contained in the plea agreement to induce you to plead guilty against your free will?
A: No, sir.
Q: Has anyone threatened, intimidated, coerced or pressured you in any way to plead guilty ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.