State of Missouri v. Robert T. Sidebottom

753 S.W. 2d 915 (Mo. Banc 1988)

Robert T. Sidebottom was executed on November 15, 1995

Case Facts:  In the early morning hours of October 4, 1985 Robert Sidebottom went to his grandmother’s home to get some money from her. Sidebottom was with a co-worker whom he had been drinking with most of the evening. Upon returning to the car, Sidebottom told his companion that he was upset that his 74 year old grandmother, May Sidebottom, only gave him $5.00 when he knew she had just received $ 14,000.00 from insurance following the death of her husband.

Sidebottom later returned to his grandmother’s home and told his companion he would give him $ 14,000.00 if he would “cover” for him if anything went wrong. Sidebottom then told his companion to leave. The companion complied driving Sidebottom’s automobile from the scene.

Evidence indicates that Ms. Sidebottom’s assailant broke into her house through a back door window. Once inside, Sidebottom told police that he confronted his grandmother and told her he wanted more money. She became angry with him and denied his demand.

Sidebottom in his statement to police reported that he got angry at his granmother’s refusal for more money and began beating her. He struck her in the head and back with his fists and a chair until she stopped moving. He then started a fire in a bedroom and left.

Police arrived at the burning house at around 2:35a.m. and found Ms. Sidebottom lying unconscious, but alive in a pool of blood in the kitchen. Blood was splattered on the floor, walls and ceiling of the kitchen along with pieces of a broken chair. Ms. Sidebottom suffered from numerous injuries of the head and neck including a fractured jaw, broken nose, five frontal rib fractures and three back rib fractures. She later died that same morning.

Sidebottom had previously told friends that he would inherit approximately $ 30,000.00 after his grandmother died and that he would do just about anything, including killing her, to get the money.

When police interviewed Sidebottom about his grandmother’s death he admitted to being present and striking her, but could not remember details.

Legal Chronology

02/26 – Sidebottom was arrested for Forgery in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He later pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for two years.

05/01 – Sidebottom was arrested for Sexual Abuse First Degree in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and was sentenced to five years in the Missouri Department for Corrections on July 17, 1986
10/4 – Robert Sidebottom brutally beats his 74 year-old grand mother with his fists and a chair until she is unconscious. He then sets her house on fire. Police arrive at the burning house.
12/30 – Robert Sidebottom is indicted for the first degree murder of his grandmother, May Sidebottom.

11/26-12/5 – Robert Sidebottom is convicted after a jury trial in Jackson County, Missouri of First Degree Murder and Armed Criminal Action.

3/6 – The Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri denies Robert Sidebottom’s motion for new trial and sentences him to death.
3/23 – Notice of Appeal is filed with the Missouri Supreme Court.

6/14 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Robert Sidebottom’s conviction and sentence.
6/27 – Robert Sidebottom files a motion for post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15.
8/26 – Robert Sidebottom files an amended Rule 29.15 motion through counsel.

1/20 – The Circuit court of Jackson County, Missouri denies the Rule 29.15 motion.
12/12 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms the denial of the Rule 29.15 motion.

7/26 – Robert Sidebottom files a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

7/1 – An amended habeas corpus petition is filed in the United States District Court.

5/24 – The United States District Court denies the petition for the writ of habeas corpus. Unpublished order.
6/8 – Sidebottom Files a motion asking the United States District Court to alter or amend its judgment.
6/13 – Sidebottom files a motion asking the Missouri Supreme Court to recall its mandated.
7/6 – Sidebottom files a state habeas corpus petition under MO Supreme Court Rule 91.
8/17 – The Missouri Supreme Court denies the motion to recall the mandate.
8/19 – The Missouri Supreme Court denies the state habeas corpus petition.
10/15 – The United States District Court denies the motion to alter or amend judgment.
11/12 – Sidebottom files a notice of intent to appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

9/14 – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the denial of Sidebottom’s habeas corpus petition.

3/30 – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issues its mandate effectively removing all stays of execution.
10/2 – The United States Supreme Court denies certiorari.
10/12 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets November 15, 1995 as the date of execution.