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White v. Belcher

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

September 16, 2013

JEFFERY JARAIL WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC BELCHER, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RICHARD D. ROGERS U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter is a petition for habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner, a former active duty member of the United States Army now incarcerated at Big Sandy-USP, Inez, Kentucky, proceeds pro se.

Background

Procedural background

Petitioner was convicted of premeditated murder by a general court-martial composed of officer and enlisted members at Wheeler Army Airfield, Oahu, Hawaii. The panel sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole, a dishonorable discharge, reduction to the grade of Private E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reprimand. The convening authority approved the findings and sentence imposed by the panel.

Petitioner unsuccessfully sought relief before the ACCA and the CAAF before commencing this action. He presents five grounds for relief, namely:

(1) He received ineffective assistance of counsel when defense counsel (a) provided incompetent advice concerning whether his statements to the defense psychologist were discoverable and (b) conducted an inadequate investigation before calling the psychologist as a witness.
(2) He was denied a speedy trial because he was held in pretrial confinement for 432 days.
(3) He was denied due process when no forensic evidence was presented by the government despite the collection of such evidence.
(4) He was denied his due process right to a speedy post-trial review due to the government’s 489-day delay in processing the 1, 330-page record from sentencing to initial action.
(5) He was denied his right to due process when the CAAF failed to order a rehearing because Brian Cook, a witness, admitted in social media that he is mentally ill and might have committed the murder.

Petitioner presented the claims identified as Grounds 1-4 before the ACCA and Ground 5 before the CAAF.

Factual background

Petitioner joined the U.S. Army in September 2002. While stationed at the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, he and a fellow service member, Specialist Felicia LaDuke (“LaDuke”) became involved and had a son. LaDuke pursued a paternity action and established petitioner’s identity as the father of the child. Over the weeks preceding LaDuke’s death, petitioner expressed anger at her to his friends and stated he was thinking about killing her.

On October 7, 2005, petitioner called LaDuke and asked to meet for a discussion. At petitioner’s request, LaDuke picked him up and they drove to an isolated area known as “the end of the world”. Petitioner strangled LaDuke, dragged her body from the car, and drove over her several times before dragging her body to a field, where he took papers from LaDuke’s car and discarded them near her body.

Petitioner then returned to just outside the post in LaDuke’s car, where he contacted service member Alicia Williams (“Williams”) to pick him up outside the gate. Petitioner eventually told Williams he had killed LaDuke. After she dropped petitioner ...


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