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Washington v. Roberts

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 30, 2015

RAYMOND ROBERTS, et al., Respondents.


SAM A. CROW, Senior District Judge.

This matter is a petition for habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

Procedural background

Petitioner was convicted in the District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas, on one count of first-degree premeditated murder in violation of K.S.A. 21-3401 and one count of criminal possession of a firearm in violation of K.S.A. 21-4204. He was sentenced to life without parole for 50 years and a concurrent term of 18 months. His motion for new trial was denied.

On direct appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the convictions but remanded the matter for resentencing. State v. Washington, 68 P.3d 134 (Kan. 2003)( Washington I ).

On remand, the trial court re-imposed the sentences of life without parole for 50 years and concurrent 18-month term. Petitioner appealed, alleging that the evidence was insufficient to support the Hard 50 term and that the Hard 50 sentencing scheme was unconstitutional. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the sentence. State v. Washington, 123 P.3d 1265 (Kan. 2005), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1018 (2006)( Washington II ).

Petitioner then filed a post-conviction motion pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507, presenting seven claims for relief. The state district court denied relief, and petitioner then filed a notice of appeal and two motions for reconsideration. The district court filed an additional memorandum decision denying relief, and petitioner filed a second notice of appeal. The Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed that decision. Washington v. State, 216 P.3d 191, 2009 WL 3082582 (Kan.App. 2009)( Washington III ).

Petitioner again sought review in the Kansas Supreme Court. The Kansas Supreme Court denied review, and petitioner commenced this action on February 23, 2011.

On September 18, 2012, the court entered a stay in this matter to allow petitioner to present certain additional claims in the state courts. That process is completed; however, because petitioner failed to timely present a petition for review in the Kansas Supreme Court, those claims are barred by his procedural default. This court lifted the stay on April 8, 2014. The present petition therefore addresses only the claims presented in the original petition, namely, (1) the prosecution's use of peremptory challenges violated petitioner's right to equal protection; (2) the trial court erred in admitting petitioner's confession; (3) petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel during the pretrial motion to suppress the confession; (4) the prosecution committed misconduct in its statements concerning the mental defense offered; (5) the trial court erred in limiting cross-examination of Dr. William Logan; (6) the failure of the Kansas Legislature to define premeditation and the action of the Kansas Supreme Court defining the element of premeditation violates the separation of powers doctrine; (7) the definition of premeditation under Kansas law denied petitioner equal protection and substantive due process; (8) the district court improperly instructed the jury on the prosecution's burden of proof regarding self-defense and denied petitioner due process and a fair trial; and (9) the trial court erred in responding to a jury question outside petitioner's presence.

Factual background

The Kansas Supreme Court summarized the facts of petitioner's crime as follows:

Marcus Washington was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and criminal possession of a firearm based upon the January 16, 2000, shooting death of Stacey Quinn. The defendant was sentenced to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole (a hard 50 sentence). [...]
Officer James Bauer of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the neighborhood of 33rd and Farrow at 1:26 a.m. He found a woman later identified as Stacey Quinn, laying on the lawn of Beatrice Cannon's home at 3217 Farrow. Medical personnel summoned to the scene determined that Quinn was dead.
Erik Mitchell, a forensic pathologist, testified that Quinn suffered a number of gunshot injuries, with entry and exit wounds to her neck, chest, torso, and extremities. Dr. Mitchell recovered a bullet from Quinn's clothing and another from the surface of Quinn's neck. He also recovered a bullet from Quinn's liver. Dr. Mitchell opined that Quinn died from the gunshot wounds, which caused internal hemorrhaging and great blood loss.
Neighbors' Trial Testimony
Erica Warrior, who lived next door to where Quinn's body was found, testified that she heard gunshots in the early morning hours, dialed 911, and then heard a young woman cry for help. After the 911 call, Warrior heard another set of gunshots. Contrary to the defendant's testimony, Warrior did not hear tires screeching and did not hear a car speeding away. She also did not hear the victim make a threatening statement.
John Carr also lived next door to the crime scene. At approximately 1:30 a.m., he heard a volley of about 10 shots, which lasted about 5 seconds. The shots sounded to Carr like they came from a handgun. Carr testified he then heard a woman cry for help. According to Carr, he heard the woman say, "Help me, oh help me, please somebody help me." Carr testified that the woman's cry sounded like it came from Cannon's house.
Carr called the authorities, and as he was calling he heard a second volley of shots. Carr believed the second volley also contained 10 shots and lasted about 5 seconds. Carr said that 1 minute lapsed between the first volley of shots and the woman's cry, and less than 1 minute lapsed between the cry and the second volley. He did not hear an automobile collision or screeching tires during this time.
Carr's daughter also testified and generally confirmed her father's testimony. In addition, she testified that she looked out of her bedroom window and viewed a man with a gun run across the front lawn of her house. Carr's daughter identified the defendant to the jury as the man she saw run in front of her house.
Mashan Minor, who resides three houses from the crime scene, testified that the early morning shots woke her up. She opened her front door and saw a young lady hopping in the street on the corner of 33rd and Farrow. Minor observed that a shoe was in the middle of the street. She also heard the victim at Cannon's house knocking on the door and pleading for help. Minor looked out the door again and observed someone standing in Cannon's driveway. Minor shut her door and then heard another round of gunfire.
Investigation of Evidence at the Crime Scene
After calling for medical help, Officer Bauer testified he noticed blood at one location and shell casings at two different locations. Marvin Main, a crime scene technician for the police department, identified and gathered the shell casings at 33rd and Farrow and those found near the body of the victim. He found no firearm at the scene or on the body of the victim. He recovered a bullet from the living room of Cannon's house. Officers also recovered.40 caliber bullets from the scene, in addition on one.25 caliber casing which tended to support the defendant's theory that Quinn shot at him with a small caliber firearm.
Officers found a Chevrolet Cavalier parked on 33rd Street not far from where Quinn's body lay. The vehicle's engine was still warm. The car was locked, but the keys were lying on the back floorboard of the vehicle. The Chevrolet Cavalier was registered to Nina Betts. Detective Zeigler, along with another detective, Roger Golubski, contacted Betts at her apartment between 8:30 and 8:45 that morning. The defendant answered their knock at the door, and Zeigler asked to speak with Betts. Zeigler went outside with Betts and asked about her car. According to Zeigler, Betts said that when her mother had left around 11 the night before, her car was still parked outside. There was no indication, such as broken glass, that the car had been stolen.
Betts told Zeigler that the defendant had been at her apartment the entire evening. Zeigler wanted to get both the defendant and Betts to the detective bureau to see whether their stories matched. Zeigler asked the defendant to go to the detective bureau, and the defendant agreed. Zeigler also asked Betts' permission to search her apartment. She agreed, and officers found a Styrofoam container for bullets in the bathroom. They also found a bullet on the floor of a closet in a bedroom and a handgun in the closet which was later identified as the one used against the victim, Stacy Quinn. Betts had denied that any firearms were in her apartment.
Zeigler and his partner, Golubski, took Betts' statement at the detective bureau at around 1:15 p.m., and then took the defendant's statement. At one point during the discussions with the defendant, he began to cry uncontrollably. The detectives concluded that the defendant might implicate himself in the shooting. After settling the defendant down, the detectives advised him of his Miranda rights. He acknowledged these rights and elected to talk to the detectives. He admitted his involvement in the shooting. An audiotape of the defendant's statement was played for the jury, and a transcript from the interview was shown to the jury.
The defendant testified that he was deathly afraid of a man by the name of Hill at the time of the shooting, who, according to the defendant, had made prior attempts on the defendant's life. He believed the victim, Stacey Quinn was involved with Hill in a plot on his life. Because of this fear, the defendant testified he acted in self-defense in shooting Quinn. Consistent with psychiatric testimony on his behalf, the defendant testified that he had not intended to kill Quinn and that he had not possessed the mental state necessary to commit the crime of premeditated murder.
The defendant's ex-wife, Sony Reeves, testified that Hill demonstrated threatening behavior toward the defendant on two occasions and, after each of these incidents, the defendant was very scared. In August or September 1999, she bought the.40 caliber handgun because there had been break-ins at the apartments where she lived. Reeves left the handgun at the house of the defendant's mother when she and the defendant separated in October 1999. On cross-examination, Reeves identified the firearm recovered from Betts' apartment as the one she had purchased.
Betts testified that there was no damage to the Chevrolet Cavalier on the day before the shooting. However, after the shooting, Betts noted that there was a dent behind the driver's side door. Betts also testified that after the shooting, there were approximately five to eight new dents on the passenger door which looked like buckshots.
The defendant testified concerning the first incident between him and Hill which occurred in a parking lot during the summer of 1997. The defendant told the jury that Hill fired shots at him and that he had been afraid of Hill from that time on. The defendant did not report this incident to the police. The second incident occurred in June 1998 while the defendant attended a barbecue. A vehicle pulled up to the house and stopped, and Hill emerged from the vehicle pointing a gun at the defendant. The defendant testified he dove through a screen door to protect himself. The police were called, and they responded to the scene.
The defendant testified that as a result of the two incidents he had been having nightmares in which he was killed as a result of an altercation with Hill. In his dream, the defendant was unable to make it through the screen door. The defendant testified that his fear of being killed existed at the time of the shooting and continued to exist at the time of his testimony at trial.
The defendant also described for the jury his version of the events that led to Quinn's death. He received a call from his mother the night before the shooting. She asked him to pick up his younger brother from a skating rink which closed at 11:30 p.m. The defendant picked up his brother from the skating rink and dropped him off at his mother's house. He then visited a friend for about an hour, leaving around 1 a.m. and drove by his mother's house to make sure that everything was in order there.
After driving past his mother's house, he saw a woman frantically waving her arms along the street in the area of 27th and Brown. The defendant partially rolled down his window to see what the trouble was. The woman, who was later identified as Quinn, asked the defendant whether he had any "yay." The defendant said that he did not sell drugs. Quinn asked for a ride and the defendant agreed to give her a lift. Quinn asked the defendant to let her visit a house at 3216 Farrow. The defendant turned right off of Farrow onto 33rd Street and waited for Quinn to return to his car. Quinn returned to the defendant's car, and the defendant began to reverse toward Farrow to leave.
At this point, the defendant said that another vehicle heading east on Farrow struck his car while he was in the process of backing onto Farrow. The defendant said that he panicked and drove a short distance forward on 33rd and then stopped.
The defendant said that he believed Hill or Hill's relatives were somehow involved in the collision. The defendant grabbed the.40 caliber firearm and got out of the car. Quinn tried to wrestle the gun away from the defendant, but the defendant managed to get the gun and exit the vehicle. The defendant proceeded to walk down 33rd toward the intersection of 33rd and Farrow. The vehicle that collided with the defendant's vehicle approached the defendant. He pointed his firearm at the car, and the car reversed away from the defendant. The defendant shot at the vehicle. The defendant said that he was fearful.
As he returned to his vehicle in order to call the police, Quinn confronted him pointing a small caliber chrome firearm directly at him from the middle of the street. The defendant described the woman as wild-eyed and shaking. He thought that Quinn was under the influence of something. The defendant testified that Quinn said that she was going to "____ [him] up." According to the defendant, Quinn fired first and he fired back without stopping until his gun was empty.
The defendant said he went back to his car but the keys that he thought were in the ignition when he left his car were gone. The defendant ran down the street, and a man picked him up and took him home. The defendant told the jury he did not intend to shoot Quinn. When he returned to Betts' apartment, Betts was there, and she was sleeping.
The defendant called Steven Weinberg, an accident reconstructionist, to testify. In Weinberg's opinion, the damage to Betts' car was consistent with the story that his car was parked and that it was impacted by a larger vehicle. Weinberg testified that the damage to the passenger side of the vehicle appeared to be caused by gunshots. Weinberg observed eight distinctive dents. Weinberg opined that a small-caliber firearm, either a.22 or a.25 caliber would have caused the damage to the passenger side of the vehicle. According to Weinberg, the bullets came at an angle from the rear of the car, which was consistent with the defendant's story that he encountered Quinn standing in the middle of Farrow.
The defendant also called Gilbert Parks, a psychiatrist, to testify. Dr. Parks testified he met with the defendant on five different occasions and the defendant talked to Dr. Parks about the two incidents involving Hill. Dr. Parks believed each of the incidents involving Hill were key to understanding the defendant's emotional state. Dr. Parks testified that the incidents between Hill and the defendant were traumas for the defendant. Dr. Parks diagnosed the defendant with having suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the day of the shooting. Dr. Parks said that when Quinn pointed a gun at the defendant, it was just another of a string of incidents during which the defendant perceived a threat to his life. It was Dr. Parks' opinion that the defendant did not possess the requisite intent of willfulness when he shot Quinn. Dr. Parks believed that the defendant was not capable of intentionally shooting Quinn that day.
In rebuttal, William Logan, a psychiatrist, criticized Dr. Parks' diagnosis. Dr. Logan reviewed a report written by Dr. Parks and found that it did not list the qualifying symptoms for PTSD. Dr. Logan questioned why Dr. Parks did not interview the people surrounding the defendant to verify the symptoms the defendant described. Dr. Logan said that PTSD did not explain why the defendant would have followed Quinn to Cannon's front steps. Further, Dr. Logan found it questionable that someone suffering from PTSD would pick up a stranger so early in the morning.
To counter Dr. Logan's testimony, the defendant called another psychiatrist, Elizabeth Roberta Hatcher, who testified that after reviewing Dr. Parks' report she did not find anything that would lead her to believe the defendant was not suffering from PTSD. Washington I, 68 P.3d at 140-143.

Standard of review

This matter is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The AEDPA established a highly deferential standard of review of state court proceedings. When a state prisoner presents a claim that has been adjudicated by the state courts, the habeas court may not grant relief unless it determines that the state court proceedings resulted in a decision (1) "that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or (2) "that was based upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

"Clearly established law is determined by the United States Supreme Court, and refers to the Court's holdings, as opposed to the dicta." Lockett v. Trammel, 711 F.3d 1218, 1231 (10th Cir. 2013). A state court's decision is "contrary to" established Supreme Court law where the state court reaches a conclusion opposite of that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or decides a case differently than the Supreme Court on materially indistinguishable facts. Dodd v. Trammell, 753 F.3d 971, 982 (10th Cir. 2013)(citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000)).

Finally, a state court's decision is an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court case law if "the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule...but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Gipson v. Jordan, 376 F.3d ...

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