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Jones v. Pryor

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 7, 2017

CHARLES L. JONES, Petitioner,
REX PRYOR, et al., Respondents.



         After the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded this case for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Petitioner's federal habeas petition was timely filed, the parties submitted a joint proposal (Doc. 51) that the Court approved (Doc. 54). In exchange for Petitioner's consolidation and narrowing of his federal habeas claims, Respondents agreed to waive the statute of limitation defense, obviating the need for an evidentiary hearing on that issue. The parties also agreed to bifurcate briefing as follows: 1) claims that the parties agreed could be decided on the existing record, and 2) claims that may require factual development or an evidentiary hearing.

         The parties have fully briefed the existing record claims and the Court is prepared to rule.[1] These claims attack Petitioner's life sentence, alleging: 1) ineffective assistance of counsel during the juvenile waiver hearing entitling Petitioner to a presumption of prejudice under United State v. Cronic[2] (Claim 3); 2) a Sixth Amendment violation based on the failure to notify Petitioner and his parents of their right to employ counsel of their choice (Claims 1 and 4); and 3) an Apprendi[3] violation due to the juvenile court's decision to authorize prosecution of Petitioner as an adult (Claim 5). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies federal habeas relief on these claims.

         I. Factual Background

         In July of 1998, Petitioner Charles Jones was 16 years old and had two theft adjudications for joyriding. The Kansas Supreme Court summarized the facts for the July 21, 1998, shooting death of Robert Trzok as follows in State v. Jones[4]:

The State's theory at trial was that Jones had been robbed and injured by Trzok prior to the shooting. After identifying Trzok's parked car, Jones and his friend LaKevis Tensley entered the house where Trzok and four others, Jeffrey Fields, Ronald Haskins, S.W., and E.G., were drinking and consuming drugs. Jones and Tensley beat Trzok and drug him out of the house and onto the front porch where Jones shot Trzok three times in the back of the head.
Motive Evidence
Tracy Thomas, an emergency room nurse, testified that days prior to the shooting death of Trzok, she treated a male, who identified himself as Santos Metcalf, for a serious mouth laceration. The person purporting to be Santos Metcalf explained he was hurt by riding his bicycle into a clothes line. A doctor sutured the person's mouth and sent him home. Sandra Metcalf, Jones' cousin, testified that Santos Metcalf is her brother and that he had never had a laceration to his mouth. She testified it actually was Jones who had suffered the injury to his mouth.
LaKevis Tensley
Tensley testified regarding the events of July 21, 1998. Tensley was driving when he saw Jones walking and picked up Jones. They continued to ride around getting high by smoking marijuana. Tensley observed injuries to Jones mouth, which Tensley believed occurred while someone tried to rob Jones. Jones spotted the car belonging to the man who robbed him. Tensley testified he believed Jones merely wanted to beat the guy who had robbed him. Tensley and Jones carried guns as they walked to the house.
Jones entered the house first. By the time Tensley entered the house, Jones was already talking to Trzok. Both Tensley and Jones were wearing bandannas to conceal their identity. Jones asked Trzok to come outside and when Trzok refused, Tensley struck Trzok in the face and kicked Trzok before dragging Trzok out of the house. According to Tensley, when he reached the outside of the house he began running to his car. It was not until Tensley was running to his car that he heard shots. Tensley and Jones left in Tensley's car. Tensley dropped Jones off at his grandmother's house.
Jeffrey Fields
Fields testified that he had known Trzok for a few months before Trzok's murder. On the day of the murder, Trzok drove his own car to Fields' house, arriving at 9 a.m. Fields and Trzok began smoking crack cocaine at that time. E.G., S.W., and Haskins all arrived later. Those at the house drank alcohol and consumed crack cocaine and marijuana. According to Fields, Trzok purchased most of the crack, spending between $700 to $1, 000.
Late in the evening, Haskins unlocked the front door and permitted two people to enter. Fields testified Jones entered first, and then a second person entered sometime thereafter. Fields testified he did not recognize Jones at first as one of the intruders, but said he had recognized him as someone whom he had seen previously in the neighborhood. Fields said Jones and Tensley wore bandannas over their faces. Trzok did not want to go outside with Jones and Tensley. Fields told Trzok to get up and go outside to take care of his business with Jones and Tensley because Fields did not “like confusion inside [his] home.” Fields confirmed there was a struggle to get Trzok outside. Fields noticed Jones had a gun which looked like a revolver. When Jones and Tensley dragged Trzok out of the house, Fields shut and locked the door. Fields observed Jones bend down to shoot Trzok.
Later, during an interview at the police department, Fields identified Jones from a lineup as the man who shot Trzok. Fields denied that he, Haskins, S.W., or E.G. had anything to do with Trzok's murder.
Ronald J. Haskins, Sr.
Haskins, who is Fields' uncle, arrived at Fields' house around noon the day of Trzok's murder. Haskins confirmed that he drank alcohol and got high while at Fields' house. According to Haskins, he heard a knock, saw Jones outside, and yelled out to Fields to announce Jones' presence. Fields authorized Haskins to unlock the door for Jones. Haskins identified Jones as the person standing on the porch. Although Jones put on a bandanna when he entered the house, Jones was not wearing the bandanna when Haskins saw him standing outside the house. Haskins testified that Jones entered the house and told Trzok to leave the house. Haskins confirmed that a second man then entered the house and both Tensley and Jones beat Trzok and drug him outside. After Jones and Tensley dragged Trzok outside, Haskins heard gunshots. Haskins also picked Jones out of a photo lineup.
S.W. and E.G.
S.W.'s testimony was consistent with Fields and Haskins regarding the events on the evening of the murder, but S.W. could not identify either of the intruders. E.G. also testified at trial. E.G.'s testimony confirmed the events leading up Trzok's murder. E.G. identified Jones as the first of the two intruders.
Investigation of Scene
Dr. Erik Mitchell, a forensic pathologist, performed the autopsy identifying three gunshot wounds to the back of Trzok's head. Trzok had cocaine, but no alcohol, in his blood at the time of his death. Dr. Mitchell also identified numerous other injuries to Trzok's shoulder, left arm, back of right hand, back of right elbow, and left lower back. The cause of death was the gunshots wounds to the head.
Don Garrett, a police officer, testified that he recovered three bullets from the scene: two were under Trzok's head and another lodged in the house next door. Dr. Mitchell removed a fourth bullet from Trzok's body.
William Newhouse, the chief criminalist with the firearms and toolmark section with the police department, analyzed the bullets from the scene. Newhouse testified the bullets were fired from the same gun, which had to be a .38/.357 caliber weapon.
Sophia Barajas, a police officer, testified she was immediately dispatched to the scene after shots were reported. Officer Barajas testified the red car parked in front of Fields' house belonged to Trzok.
Jones' Flight to Iowa
Jones' cousin Metcalf testified that Jones stayed with her on Wednesday night, which was the night after the murder. On Thursday evening, Metcalf and her boyfriend drove Jones to Des Moines, arriving early Friday morning. Metcalf and her boyfriend dropped Jones off at his mother's apartment.
Greg Trimble, an officer with the Des Moines police department, testified that he was called on Friday to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation in finding Jones. Officer Trimble arrested Jones. According to Officer Trimble, Jones continually questioned Officer Trimble about the purpose for the arrest. Upon learning of the allegations, Jones denied being responsible for any murder; however, his denial assumed that the murder was committed with a gun, a fact that had not been revealed to Jones.
Jan Bjurstrom, an officer with the Des Moines police department, testified that she noticed blood on Jones' shoe. Jones explained it was blood from his mouth injury. Officer Bjurstrom seized the shoes and gave them to Kansas detectives who had come to Des Moines to interview Jones.
DNA Evidence
Linda Netzel, a senior criminalist with the Kansas City, Missouri police department, testified about the DNA analysis of blood extracted from Jones' shoe. Netzel testified the blood on Jones' shoe matched Trzok's blood. Further, Netzel excluded Jones' own blood from possibly matching the stain. Netzel testified there was a 1 in 32 million chance of finding another person with DNA also matching the stain. Netzel also testified about a phenomenon in DNA analysis known as spillover, which could potentially render the test invalid. However, Netzel testified that spillover was not possible in her analysis.

         II. Procedural History

         The State filed a Complaint for First Degree Murder and Aggravated Battery against Petitioner on July 24, 1998.[5] Law enforcement arrested Petitioner in Iowa. Petitioner signed a Waiver of Extradition and was extradited to Kansas on or about July 27, 1998.[6] A warrant hearing was held on July 29, 1998, and a detention hearing was set for the next day.[7]

         On July 30, 1998, the juvenile court ordered Petitioner detained pending a waiver hearing.[8] That same day, the State filed a motion requesting authorization to prosecute Petitioner as an adult.[9] On September 3, 1998, the juvenile court certified Petitioner for adult prosecution.[10]

         On January 31, 2000, a jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of First Degree Premeditated Murder.[11] On March 17, 2000, the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.[12] Petitioner filed a direct appeal, arguing inter alia, that: 1) adult certification without sufficient notice to his parents violated the due process clause, 2) the juvenile court erred by failing to consider the eight factors mandated in K.S.A. 38-1636(e) in authorizing adult prosecution; and 3) increasing the penalty he faced by prosecuting him as an adult was an illegal upward departure under Apprendi v. New Jersey.[13] The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence.[14] The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on October 21, 2002.[15]

         On July 9, 2004, Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507 (“the 1507 Motion”). In this motion, Petitioner argued, inter alia, that manifest injustice resulted because he was denied effective assistance of counsel at the waiver hearing.[16]

         Petitioner argued that his counsel's performance at that hearing fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that he suffered prejudice as a result of counsel's many failures. The district court denied the motion as untimely. Petitioner appealed. On September 30, 2005, the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the district court's denial and remanded the case for further proceedings.[17] On remand, after an evidentiary hearing, the District Court of Wyandotte County denied Petitioner's 1507 Motion, finding in pertinent part:

Petitioner's contention that his representation by Sean (sic) DeGraff at the hearing to determine if he should be tried as an adult is reviewed using the two-prong test set forth in Chamberlain v. State, 236 Kan. 650, 694 P .2d 468 (1985). The Court finds that even if Mr. DeGraff's representation of the petitioner fell below an objective standard of reasonableness as dictated by the first prong, there is not a reasonable probability that the results of the proceeding would have been different but for any errors of counsel.[18]

         The Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed that denial with the following analysis:

The severity of the crime, the violent manner in which the crime was committed, the fact that the crime resulted in the victim's death, and Jones' criminal history, which included two theft convictions, all weighed against trying Jones as a juvenile. Jones had the burden to rebut the presumption, and the only factors that could have weighed in his favor were factors six, seven, and eight. However, Jones was charged with first-degree murder. There was evidence of premeditation. Jones had prior felony theft and misdemeanor theft convictions, in which he was tried as a juvenile. The facts also show that this was a particularly brutal murder. Jones and a friend dragged Trzok out of the house, beat him, and then Jones shot him three times in the back of the head.
The factors that weighed against allowing Jones to proceed as a juvenile were so great that there is no reasonable probability that evidence [of] his maturity or sophistication would have outweighed the other factors. Jones has failed to establish that his counsel's deficient performance prejudiced his defense. The district court did not err by denying Jones' claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.[19]

         The Kansas Supreme Court denied review of the Court of Appeals' decision affirming the denial of the 1507 motion.

         On June 23, 2009, Petitioner filed a motion to correct illegal sentence in the District Court of Wyandotte County, alleging fatal defects at various proceedings, including: 1) lack of notice to his parents regarding the juvenile waiver hearing, 2) an erroneous determination that waiver counsel's deficient performance was harmless; and 3) lack of notice regarding the right to retain counsel of choice.[20] The state district court summarily denied the motion as a second or successive 1507-motion.[21] Petitioner appealed and the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the denial of ...

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