Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Penalty Phase: Brandon Hutchison was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for his part in the 1995 killing of Brian and Ronald Yates. Hutchison's counsel had never tried a capital case before and had no experience defending a murder case. While they prepared extensively for the guilt portion of the trial, defense counsel spent virtually no time preparing for the penalty phase. 

Despite being on notice that Hutchison had severe psychiatric problems, defense counsel failed to contact the psychiatrist who treated him during his adolescence. They also failed to obtain readily available records showing mental illness, sexual abuse, and impaired intellectual functioning. Counsel retained only one expert and failed to provide their expert with sufficient background information on Hutchinson to conduct an adequate evaluation. Counsel then failed to follow up on any of the information in the expert’s report or seek additional testing for the purpose of mitigation. The expert addressed no statutory mitigators relating to Hutchison’s impaired mental functioning, did no independent investigation, and provided no testimony to assist jurors in making an educated determination about his mental condition and whether it mitigated the offense. Thus, counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain a competent expert to conduct an appropriate examination and assist in the evaluation, preparation and presentation of evidence for the sentencing phase. 150 S.W.3d at 306-07. Hutchison’s counsel also failed to adequately investigate and present testimony about his family background that would have revealed: Hutchison’s low IQ and learning disability; his family’s history of alcoholism, substance abuse and mental illness; physical and sexual abuse as a child; brain damage; and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder by the age of sixteen. Id. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct an adequate investigation into the inherently mitigating evidence that could have persuaded the jury to spare Hutchison from the death penalty.

After a new penalty phase trial, Hutchison was sentenced to life without parole.