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Haddock v. Roberts

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 29, 2014

KENNETH E. HADDOCK, Petitioner,
v.
RAY ROBERTS, Secretary of Corrections, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SAM A. CROW, District Judge.

This case is before the court upon petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons explained in this order, the requested relief shall be denied.

I. PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

In 1993, a Kansas state court jury found that petitioner killed his wife Barbara Haddock and convicted him of first degree murder. His conviction was affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court. State v. Haddock, 897 P.2d 152 (Kan. 1995)("Haddock I"). After this decision, petitioner filed a petition for state habeas relief, pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507, and also filed at least two motions for postconviction DNA testing and for relief pursuant to such testing. One motion concerned testing of: hair found in the victim's hand; the victim's eyeglasses; and fingernail scrapings from the victim. A second motion concerned testing of blood found on the shoes, slacks and a shirt belonging to petitioner.

The postconviction testing of the hair revealed that it was from a female other than the victim; the testing of the fingernail scrapings showed that the scrapings contained the victim's DNA; the testing of the eyeglasses showed DNA consistent with the victim and from a male source inconsistent with petitioner. The trial court found that these results were "inconclusive" and therefore refused petitioner's request to order a new trial. The trial court further found that there was no issue before it as to the testing of the shoes, shirt and slacks because the petitioner had refused to submit to further DNA testing.

On the appeal of these postconviction rulings, the Kansas Supreme Court held that the trial court had committed an error in the analysis of both postconviction DNA test motions. Haddock v. State, 146 P.3d 187 (Kan. 2006)("Haddock II"). The court found that the analysis of the hair, glasses and fingernail scrapings were "favorable" to petitioner, not "inconclusive, " and that the trial court erred by not making a finding as to the results of the testing on the shoes, shirt and slacks. The court remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration of whether the additional DNA testing warranted a new trial, although the court observed that the end result could depend upon whether petitioner chose to proceed with further DNA testing on the shoes and shirt because the evidence at trial from the testing of the slacks found blood belonging to the victim. The trial court was directed to decide whether to order a new trial by determining if the postconviction DNA testing evidence was of such materiality that a reasonable probability existed that it would result in a different outcome at trial. In Haddock II, the Kansas Supreme Court also affirmed the trial court's rejection petitioner's arguments for state habeas relief under K.S.A. 60-1507. Some of these arguments are raised again in this action.

On remand, the trial court denied petitioner's request for a new trial based upon the postconviction DNA testing. The court found that some of the testing results were favorable to petitioner, some confirmed evidence at trial, and some results were inconclusive. It concluded that there was not a reasonable probability that the new evidence would have changed the outcome of the trial. Using an abuse of discretion standard, the Kansas Supreme Court reviewed the finding of whether there was a reasonable probability of a different outcome. The court affirmed the trial court's result. It concluded that "reasonable people could agree that the postconviction DNA test evidence was not so material as to make it reasonably probable there would be a different outcome." State v. Haddock, 286 P.3d 837, 839 (Kan. 2012)("Haddock III").

II. EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

The following review of the facts is taken almost completely from the opinion of the Kansas Supreme Court in Haddock III. Petitioner has expressed no objection to the Kansas Supreme Court's review of the facts and the court finds no grounds to stray from it after reviewing the record in this case. See Stouffer v. Trammell, 738 F.3d 1205, 1211 (10th Cir. 2013)(fact findings of the state court are presumed correct unless habeas petitioner presents clear and convincing evidence otherwise).

In November 1992, Barbara Haddock's body was discovered by her daughters under a pile of firewood in the garage of her Johnson County, Kansas home. The evidence indicated that Barbara Haddock had been beaten with a blunt object. She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, bruises and lacerations on her face, and other wounds on her head. It appeared that the crime scene had been orchestrated by the perpetrator. Blood evidence showed that the victim's body was moved from one location in the garage to the woodpile in the garage. Her wounds were not consistent with wounds which would be suffered if a woodpile had fallen on her. Tomatoes had also been splattered on the floor. Blood spatter evidence taken from her car indicated that the car was in the garage when the murder occurred. But, when the victim was discovered, the car was parked in the driveway. Thus, it appeared that the perpetrator moved but did not steal the car. There was no evidence of theft or burglary.

On the day of the murder, petitioner had been at the house after the noon hour and into the early afternoon. He testified that he left the house around 2:00 p.m. and travelled to the Olathe Public Library to do research related to a federal bank fraud case. Petitioner had been convicted in that case and was sentenced to prison. But, he was released on an appeal bond and was awaiting a resentencing hearing at the time of the murder. He testified that he left the library and travelled to a Wendy's where he purchased some food around 3:18 p.m. according to a receipt from the restaurant. Petitioner stated that, after stopping at Wendy's, he drove to look at some property which he was considering as an investment purchase. But, he overlooked the fact that property had already been sold. He then travelled to his office. His secretary had been requested to tell petitioner to go home immediately because his wife had been in an accident. Upon his arrival at the office, which was around 4:20 p.m., petitioner received this message.

The police found two fresh scratches on petitioner's right wrist. Petitioner's shoes had wood chips in them. A shirt and slacks belonging to petitioner was found on the floor near the laundry room and close to a door to the garage. The shirt and slacks had blood on them. So did the shoes petitioner was wearing. The pattern of the blood indicated that the blood was spattered onto the slacks and shoes at the time of the beating as opposed to some point after petitioner returned home from the office.

The prosecution also presented evidence that the woodpile in the Haddocks' garage had fallen some time before the murder and that petitioner, his son and a few neighbors were the only ones who knew about it. There was evidence that petitioner continued to advance the idea to relatives and friends that the victim's death was caused by firewood falling upon her even after he was told by police that the death appeared to be a homicide.

Petitioner argued in support of his alibi that the victim's watch was damaged during the beating and was stopped at 3:16 p.m. As mentioned, petitioner claimed he was at Wendy's at 3:18 p.m. and before that was at the library. The prosecution presented evidence that the hands of the watch could have been manipulated and that the front desk clerks of the library did not recall seeing petitioner or anyone who looked like petitioner on the afternoon of the murder. Also, the victim's daughters arrived home around 3:20 p.m. or shortly thereafter, but saw nothing alarming until they discovered their mother, 30 to 40 minutes later. There was also evidence that around 2:00 p.m. a neighbor heard noise that she compared to the sound of wood being moved around and that the victim did not answer the phone when called at about 3:00 p.m.

As for evidence of motive, the prosecution proved that petitioner had been convicted in federal court of bank fraud, had appealed his prison sentence and convictions, and was on bond awaiting resentencing at the time of the murder. Originally, petitioner had been sentenced to 42 months in prison upon ten counts of conviction. The case was remanded for resentencing because two counts of conviction had been reversed and an issue of monetary loss required decision. There was testimony from a friend of the victim that Barbara Haddock would become upset and emotional when discussing the future, that she was worried about the expense of defending the case, and that she would get angry with petitioner because the case kept dragging on.

III. POSTCONVICTION DNA TESTING

As mentioned, there was postconviction DNA testing on six items. One of the items was a hair found in the victim's right hand. At the time of trial there was some testimony regarding a relatively inexact DNA test which indicated that the hair was consistent with the blood of petitioner and inconsistent with the blood of the victim. Postconviction, a more discriminating DNA test on the hair indicated that the hair came from a female and that it was inconsistent with the victim's DNA.

Postconviction DNA testing upon the fingernail scrapings showed the victim's DNA and no indication of any other source. Postconviction DNA testing upon a pair of eyeglasses showed DNA consistent with that of the victim, but also some extraneous DNA, possibly from a male source not consistent with petitioner.

Postconviction DNA testing upon petitioner's shoes showed a mixture of DNA with the victim as the primary donor. The minor donor could not be identified but the DNA was consistent with petitioner. Postconviction DNA testing upon petitioner's shirt was not conclusive. The victim could not be excluded as the major donor of DNA found on the shirt. Other tests conducted upon the shirt were positive for the presence of blood. Postconviction DNA testing upon petitioner's slacks was consistent with a female source. Haddock II, 146 P.3d at 202.

IV. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

The standards this court must apply when reviewing petitioner's § 2254 challenge to matters decided in state court proceedings were set forth in Frost v. Pryor, 749 F.3d 1212, 1222-24 (10th Cir. 2014):

Our review is... governed by AEDPA, which "erects a formidable barrier to federal habeas relief, " Burt v. Titlow, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 10, 16, 187 L.Ed.2d 348 (2013), and "requires federal courts to give significant deference to state court decisions" on the merits. Lockett v. Trammel, 711 F.3d 1218, 1230 (10th Cir.2013); see also Hooks v. Workman, 689 F.3d 1148, 1162-63 (10th Cir.2012) ("This highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings demands state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." (quotations omitted)).
Under AEDPA, we may not grant a state prisoner's petition under § 2254 with respect to "any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings" unless the prisoner can show that the state court's adjudication of the claim "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); see also Harrington v. Richter, ___ U.S. ____, 131 S.Ct. 770, 783-84, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011).
"Clearly established law is determined by the United States Supreme Court, and refers to the Court's holdings, as opposed to the dicta." Lockett, 711 F.3d at 1231 (quotations omitted). A state court decision is "contrary to" the Supreme Court's clearly established precedent "if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694, 122 S.Ct. 1843, 152 L.Ed.2d 914 (2002) (quotations omitted).
A state court decision is an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent if "the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the] Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000) (opinion of O'Connor, J.); accord Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520, 123 S.Ct. 2527, 156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003). "Evaluating whether a rule application was unreasonable requires considering the rule's specificity. The more general the rule... the more leeway [state] courts have in reaching outcomes in case-by-case determinations." Richter, 131 S.Ct. at 786 (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664, 124 S.Ct. 2140, 158 L.Ed.2d 938 (2004)). An " unreasonable application of federal law" is therefore "different from an incorrect application of federal law." Id. at 785 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 410, 120 S.Ct. 1495 (opinion of O'Connor, J.)).
We may "issue the writ" only when the petitioner shows "there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with [the Supreme] Court's precedents." Id. at 786 (emphasis added). Thus, "even a strong case for relief does not mean that the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable." Id . "If this standard is difficult to meet'-and it is-that is because it was meant to be.'" Titlow, 134 S.Ct. at 16 (quoting Richter, 131 S.Ct. at 786). Indeed, AEDPA stops just "short of imposing a complete bar on federal court relitigation of claims already rejected in state proceedings." Richter, 131 S.Ct. at 786. Accordingly, "[w]e will not lightly conclude that a State's criminal justice system has experienced the extreme malfunction' for which federal habeas relief is the remedy." Titlow, 134 S.Ct. at 16 (quoting Richter, 131 S.Ct. at 786).
In making this assessment, however, "we review the district court's legal analysis of the state court decision de novo" and its factual findings, if any, for clear error. Byrd v. Workman, 645 F.3d 1159, 1165 (10th Cir.2011) (quotations omitted). Finally, our review is "limited to the record that was before" the [state appellate court]. Cullen v. Pinholster, ___ U.S. ____, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398, 179 L.Ed.2d 557 (2011).

(footnote omitted).

V. PETITIONER'S CLAIM OF A DUE PROCESS VIOLATION DOES NOT WARRANT FEDERAL HABEAS RELIEF.

Petitioner's first claim for federal habeas relief is that his due process rights were violated by the Kansas Supreme Court's interpretation and application of the postconviction DNA testing statute, K.S.A. 21-2512. Petitioner supports this claim with three arguments. In doing so, petitioner makes citation to District Attorney's Office for the Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne, 557 U.S. 52 (2009) wherein the Court recited a limited standard of review. There, when examining the State of Alaska's procedures for postconviction DNA testing, the Court stated that: "the question is whether consideration of Osborne's [due process] claim within the framework of the State's procedures for postconviction relief offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental, ' or transgresses any recognized principle of fundamental fairness in operation.'" 557 U.S. at 69 (quoting Medina v. California, 505 U.S. 437, 446, 448 (1992)).

A. The Kansas Supreme Court's application of K.S.A. 21-2512 does not violate principles of fundamental fairness established by the United States Supreme Court.

Petitioner's first argument in support of his claim of a due process violation is that the Kansas Supreme Court improperly applied the provisions of K.S.A. 21-2512. Petitioner claims that once it was determined that the postconviction DNA testing results were "favorable" to petitioner, then the statute required that affirmative relief be ordered. The plain language of the statute, however, did not mandate this result, according to the Kansas Supreme Court. The statute has since been amended, but at the time of the Kansas Supreme Court's opinion it read in part as follows:

If the results of DNA testing conducted under this section are favorable to the petitioner, the court shall: (A) Order a hearing...; and (B) enter any order that serves the interests of justice, including, but not limited to, an order: (i) Vacating and setting aside the judgment; (ii) discharging the petitioner if the ...

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