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Reid v. Carlton

April 11, 2007

ANTHONY REID, PETITIONER,
v.
HOWARD CARLTON, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Anthony Reid ("Reid" or "petitioner") has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Court File No.2). In 2000 Reid was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree felony-murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of evading arrest. Petitioner received an effective prison sentence of life plus twenty-five years. He now petitions this Court for review of those convictions. He bases his effort for relief on claims of denial of his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, denial of due process, and insufficient evidence (Court File Nos. 2 & 3).

Howard Carlton, ("respondent") Warden of the facility where petitioner is housed, filed a response to petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus (Court File No. 7). Respondent has filed a document entitled Answer to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Court File No. 7). The Answer contains most of the elements required by Rule 5 of the Habeas Corpus Rules: it states whether the Petitioner has exhausted state remedies; identifies what transcripts or other records of state proceedings are in existence; and supplies the transcripts and other portions of the record, including the petitioner's briefs on appeal and state court opinions. But the Answer goes further.

A large component of the Answer was seemingly designed to function as a motion for summary judgment or motion to dismiss. The Answer was filed by the respondent's attorney, a Tennessee assistant attorney general, by means of the Court's electronic case filing system. It was designated by the filer as an "Answer/Response" on the Court's electronic case filing system docket sheet. Motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss have been filed in other § 2254 cases by the Attorney General after the respondent was ordered to "file an answer or other pleading." Those earlier motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss, however, were not incorporated in the answer. The Court does not approve of a practice whereby a motion for summary judgment or a motion to dismiss is engrafted onto an answer or other pleading. Nevertheless, the Court will treat respondent's "Answer/Response" as a motion to dismiss and for summary judgment.*fn1

After considering the filings of respondent and petitioner, the record of the state proceedings, and the applicable law, the Court will GRANT respondent's motion to dismiss and for summary judgment (Court File No. 7) and DENY petitioner's § 2254 petition and amended petition (Court File Nos. 2 & 3).

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A state criminal defendant may obtain federal habeas relief if he can demonstrate he is in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under Rule 8 of the RULES GOVERNING SECTION 2254 PROCEEDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICTS COURTS, the Court is to determine, after a review of the response, the transcript, record of state court proceedings, and the expanded record, whether an evidentiary hearing is required. If a hearing is not required, the district judge may dispose of the case as justice dictates. After carefully reviewing the required materials, the Court finds it unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing

Federal courts review decisions of the state courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) which is a part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). This statute generally limits a federal district court's jurisdiction to review habeas claims on the merits. In particular, a court considering a habeas claim must defer to any decision by a state court concerning that claim unless the state court's judgment (1) "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" or (2) "resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and (2).

A state court's determination of a factual issue shall be presumed to be correct and the presumption of correctness can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (e)(1). Credibility findings made by state courts are entitled to the presumption of correctness. McQueen v. Scroggy, 99 F.3d 1302, 1310 (6th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1257 (1997), overruled on other grounds by In re Abdur'Rahman, 392 F.3d 174 (6th Cir. 2004), judgment vacated, 545 U.S. 1151 (2005); Smith v. Jago, 888 F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 961 (1990).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 8, 2000, petitioner was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree felony-murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of evading arrest. Petitioner was sentenced by the trial court to life imprisonment for first-degree murder. Such sentence was ordered to run consecutively to all other counts. The court imposed concurrent sentences for the convictions: twenty-five years for especially aggravated robbery, ten years for aggravated robbery, six years for attempted aggravated robbery conviction, and two years for evading arrest.

Petitioner's convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Reid, 2001 WL 818205 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2001). Petitioner was denied permission to appeal by the Tennessee Supreme Court on December 27, 2001.

Petitioner filed a pro se petition for state post-conviction relief on June 19, 2002. An amended petition was filed on February 19, 2003, and a second amended petition was filed on March 5, 2003. The post-conviction court denied relief and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Permission to appeal was denied by the Tennessee Supreme Court on September 13, 2004. Reid v. State, 2004 WL 626714 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2004).

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The facts of the crime will be taken from the appellate court's opinion on direct review. The facts presented in the state post conviction hearing will be taken from the appellate court's opinion affirming the denial of petitioner's state post-conviction petition.

A. Facts from Criminal Trial

The facts as to the convictions which are before this Court are taken from the appellate court's opinion affirming petitioner's convictions and sentences:

On May 22, 1998, Lebron Hensley, a patrolman for the Cleveland Police Department, received a report that a shooting had occurred at the apartment complex located at 580 Dooley Street in the city of Cleveland. The first officer to arrive at the scene, Hensley[,] observed two gunshot victims on a balcony of one of the apartments. One victim was sitting in a chair and bleeding from the head. The other was lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood. Hensley immediately checked their condition. The victim in the chair was conscious but unresponsive-he was leaning over with his face in his hands and appeared to have been shot somewhere in the head. The victim on the ground exhibited no vital signs at all. Within a matter of minutes, the ambulance and additional officers arrived at the scene. The victims on the balcony were later identified as Kenneth Blair and Charles Massengill. Blair was the victim on the ground, and Massengill was seated in the chair. Hensley did not see any other victims at the time.

Barry Snyder, a paramedic working for Bradley County EMS, was a member of the emergency medical team called to the crime scene. When Snyder arrived, he found Massengill sitting in a chair with his head in his hands and what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his right eye. Another gunshot victim, Blair, was lying on the floor. Blair had been shot in the head and was in worse shape than Massengill. The medical team placed Massengill and Blair on backboards and then into the ambulance. By that time, Blair was in cardiac arrest. They performed CPR, but Blair died after arriving at Erlanger Hospital. Later that same day, the EMS team was called back to 580 Dooley Street to transport a third victim of the incident, Marcus Williams, to Bradley Memorial Hospital. Williams had complained earlier of a pain in his lower back and, upon closer inspection, it turned out that he had a bullet lodged in it.

Sergeant Randy Gates, an officer with the Cleveland Police Department, testified that he was the second or third officer to arrive at the scene. When he reached the upstairs balcony area, he observed Blair lying on the floor in "bad shape" and the other victim, Massengill, slumped over the railing with an eye wound. Because the balcony was congested with medical personnel, Gates decided to assist with securing the area downstairs. On his way he encountered two more victims: Eric Benion and Marcus Williams. Benion had been shot in the hand and Williams had gunshot wounds in his leg and back.

Once the victims were removed for medical treatment, Gates and the other police officers began interviewing witnesses and searching the area for evidence. The police located a set of keys belonging to one of the victims, several spent rounds of ammunition (later identified as .22 caliber shell casings), a baseball cap, and a bottle of some kind of alcoholic beverage in the gravel parking lot below the stairs. County officials reported spotting persons and a car matching the witnesses' description of the suspects and their vehicle: three black males in a small, white four-door car, with a 'drive-out tag' in the rear window.

Jimmy Woody, a patrolman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, testified that he was one of the police officers involved in the pursuit of the shooting suspects. The chase began shortly after Officer Paul Leroy initially spotted the suspects' vehicle near the Waffle House on Georgetown Road. Leroy reported observing the vehicle drive onto Interstate 75, near exit 25, and he followed it for several miles while waiting for assistance. When the suspects reached exit 33, Woody was within a mile of Leroy and both officers activated their blue lights and sirens. The suspects responded by accelerating. They drove recklessly, at speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour, constantly switching lanes and also traveling in the emergency lane. The chase continued for approximately two miles. Then the driver of the vehicle suddenly pulled over and stopped the car in the median on the left side of the interstate, between the Charleston exit and the river on the northbound side. The passenger in the front seat remained in the vehicle, but the driver and backseat passenger leaped out of the car and ran west toward the southbound lane. Sergeant Collins and Clancy Bryson, also involved in the pursuit, chased the fleeing suspects on foot. One was captured in the woods, and the other was apprehended sometime later near the truck stop at exit 33. Woody identified Defendant as the driver of the vehicle, but did not testify as to whether Defendant was the suspect captured in the woods or the one apprehended later, near the truckstop.

Sergeant John Collins, a patrolman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, testified that he also participated in the pursuit of Defendant. As the officers were closing in on the vehicle, Collins made eye contact with the driver, who grinned at him as he pulled alongside the suspects. Collins identified Defendant as the smiling driver and corroborated the testimony given by Officer Woody regarding the pursuit. Collins also confirmed that both he and Officer Bryson chased the two suspects who fled on foot. Apprehending the first suspect rather quickly, the officers then searched the woods with police dogs for the second but were initially unsuccessful. Upon returning to their units, a dispatcher informed them that someone from the truck stop at exit 33 reported a person matching the description of the missing suspect standing on the interstate trying to flag a ride. Detective Quinn drove to the exit and picked him up. During his testimony, Collins was not asked whether Defendant was the first suspect, apprehended in the woods, or the one discovered later at the truckstop. Steve Bennett, a detective with the Cleveland Police Department, testified that he assisted with the search of the crime scene and the defendants' car after they were apprehended. At the scene of the shooting, the police found five .22 shell casings. Inside the car, the police discovered two boxes of .22 rimfire ammunition, a black stocking-type mask, a cap, and articles of clothing. Two days later, on Interstate 75, northbound, the police also discovered the three guns involved in the crime: a .22 caliber revolver pistol, a Phoenix .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a Haskell .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Two of the weapons were wrapped in a black shirt, and the third was laying close by. The particular type of .22 revolver discovered on the interstate can hold six rounds in its chamber, and it contained five rounds when the police found it. The Phoenix .22 semi-automatic is capable of holding eight rounds, fully loaded, and it had five rounds remaining in the clip. (Bennett was not questioned about the status of the .45 weapon upon discovery.) The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab matched the five casings recovered from the crime scene to the Phoenix .22 semi-automatic handgun.

Detective Bennett testified that he first encountered Defendant and the co-defendants, O'Neil Sanford (Defendant's half-brother) and Orlando Malone, at the Bradley County Sheriff's Department an hour or two after the shooting occurred. Upon searching the suspects, the police discovered approximately $40.00 in cash on Sanford and 79 cents or so in change on Malone. Defendant had no cash on his person. When Bennett was asked by the prosecutor whether he attempted to get a statement from Defendant and whether he cooperated, Bennett replied "Yes" and "No," respectively. Defense counsel objected. A bench conference was then held out of the presence of the jury. When the jury returned, the trial judge instructed them, inter alia, to ignore Bennett's response to the prosecutor's question concerning whether or not Defendant gave the police a statement.

During cross-examination, Bennett was asked whether he performed a gunshot residue test on Defendant and he responded affirmatively. He testified that propellant powder residue is normally present on the hands of a person who fires a weapon and that the residue test performed on Defendant gave inconclusive results. On redirect-examination, Bennett revealed that all three defendants were tested for powder residue and that the test results were all similarly "inconclusive." By way of explanation, Bennett read to the court the following excerpt from the TBI report concerning their test results: "some .22 rimfire ammunition does not have all the elements needed for gunshot residue analysis. These results cannot eliminate the possibility that the individual could have fired or handled a gun." Bennett testified that .22 ammunition does not contain the primer which is necessary for conclusive results in this type of test.

Eric Benion, one of the victims, testified that he was with Kenneth Blair, Marcus Williams, and Charles Massengill, at 580 Dooley Street on May 22, 1998, when the shooting incident occurred. Benion and Williams had started the evening at Benion's house. When Benion's girlfriend became argumentative, Williams and Benion left to go to Williams' apartment. As they were leaving, Massengill also showed up and they invited him along. Blair arrived at Williams' apartment later on. The men spent the majority of the evening sitting on the balcony talking and joking and drinking a few beers. They noticed three black women with three black men in the parking lot downstairs. One of the men (the co-defendant, Malone) approached them, asking whether anyone had change for a fifty-dollar bill. They replied that they did not. Malone then asked whether they had an extra beer, but they did not have a spare beer either. Thereafter, Malone rejoined his friends, Sanford and Defendant, in the parking lot. It appeared to Benion as though they were leaving, but soon afterward they returned and ran up the stairs to where Benion and his friends were sitting on the balcony. Benion identified Defendant as one of the persons who ran up the stairs.

All three men-Defendant, Sanford, and Malone-had guns, and they ordered Benion and the others onto the floor. Benion did not obey right away, but ran back into the apartment. Malone found him and ordered him back outside with the others. Massengill was in a chair; the others were laying on the ground. With his gun pointed at Benion and Williams, Malone proceeded to look through their pockets for money. He took $28.00 from Benion. No one resisted or argued with the armed men during the robbery, but then Benion heard Blair mumble something unintelligible. In response, Benion heard one of the gunmen respond, "What? What?" and the shooting started. At this point, Benion jumped up, ran back into the apartment and leaped through the second story window. When he landed, he ran to another apartment building and asked a friend to call the police. He had been shot in the hand during his escape. Benion gave the police a description of the shooters' car and a statement, and then identified Defendant from a lineup at the police department later that evening.

Marcus Williams testified that he resided in the apartment which became the scene of the shooting incident. Prior to the shooting, Williams and Benion were pitching horseshoes at Benion's house. When Benion and his girlfriend began to argue, they decided to go to Williams' apartment. Massengill arrived as they were leaving, so they invited him to come along. About an hour later, Blair joined them and they all had a few beers together. By this time, Sanford, Malone and Defendant were observed talking to some girls in the parking lot. Williams recognized the girls from the neighborhood, but had never seen the men before. Two of the girls came upstairs to where Williams and his friends were sitting on the balcony and asked whether anyone had a quarter. The three men followed them. Malone asked for a beer and whether anyone had change for a fifty-dollar bill. Williams told him that they had neither. Williams testified that, after he refused Malone's requests, everything happened very quickly. The three men ordered Williams and his friends down onto the floor. All three carried guns. Williams saw what appeared to be two .22 caliber weapons and a .45 caliber handgun. Benion jumped up and ran into the house, but they made him come back outside. Then Defendant and Sanford searched the victims' pockets for money. Having taken their money, the gunmen were preparing to leave when Blair mumbled something that Williams could not understand. In response, one of them turned around and said "What?" Then the shooting started. Williams and Benion immediately jumped up and ran into the apartment. Benion leaped out the window and notified the police. Williams locked the door behind him, and stayed in the apartment until the ambulance arrived. He heard three more gunshots before the men left. When he emerged, he observed Massengill leaning over the rail and bleeding. Blair appeared dead. Benion had been shot in the hand as he escaped. Massengill had gunshot wounds in the knee and lower back Williams further testified that none of the victims resisted the gunmen, and he identified Defendant as one of the three men who took part in the robbery. On cross-examination, Williams admitted that his blood alcohol level was 0.13 when the hospital tested him and that he drank three beers during the evening of the incident.

Charles Massengill, also a victim of the shooting, testified that he went to Williams' apartment after work at approximately 11:00 p.m. He was drinking beer with Benion, Williams, and Blair. They were not bothering anyone. The first person to approach them was Malone who wanted change for a fifty-dollar bill. When they told him that they did not have change, Malone went back downstairs but came back fifteen or twenty minutes later with Sanford and Defendant. Massengill observed that Defendant and Sanford had guns. Sanford made Massengill sit in a chair and pointed a gun at his right eye. Malone ordered Benion, Williams, and Blair outside onto the balcony and made them lie down face first. Defendant pointed his gun at Blair while the three men searched the victims' pockets for money. They took 79 cents from Massengill, and then Blair mumbled something. Defendant responded with the words, "You say what?" and then shot Blair. Immediately afterward, Sanford shot Massengill in the right eye and he lost consciousness. He awoke later, in the hospital, with an eye injury and fractured neck. His blood alcohol was reported as 0.10.

The transcript of the stipulated testimony of Dr. Charles Harlan, a licensed pathologist who performed the autopsy on Kenneth Blair, was read into evidence by the attorneys during trial. Dr. Harlan's testimony revealed the cause of Blair's death was a gunshot wound to the right side of the head. Dr. Harlan was able to recover a small bullet from Blair's brain which was consistent with the size of bullet typically fired from a .22 caliber weapon.

Dr. Harlan also performed a blood and urine analysis on the deceased which showed positive results for ethyl alcohol, "THC" or tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in marijuana), and benzoylecgonine (a metabolic byproduct of cocaine). Specifically, the results indicated that the victim consumed the equivalent of one beer and a small quantity of cocaine prior to his death. By contrast, the quantity of THC in the victim's blood was fairly large.

Anthony Reid, the defendant, testified that he lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and admitted that he had previously been convicted for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. On the day of the shooting, Defendant had been out of jail for approximately five months. He and his half-brother, O'Neal Sanford, and a man named Orlando Malone had decided to come to Cleveland to visit a friend and sell drugs, specifically, crack cocaine. Defendant had approximately $250.00 worth of crack cocaine in his possession when they arrived in town. Shortly thereafter, they met some local girls who "wanted to drink or kick it" with them. Defendant testified that he and Malone were mainly interested in "getting drunk" and "having sex" at that point. The women asked Defendant and his companions to follow them to a grocery store near the apartment building at 580 Dooley Street, where the men proceeded to spend ...


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