United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
KEVIN H. SHARP, Chief District Judge.
The petitioner, proceeding pro se, is an inmate at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, Tennessee. He brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against Eric Qualls, Warden of the facility, seeking a writ of habeas corpus.
On November 8, 2007, a jury in Smith County found the petitioner guilty of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and the theft of property valued at over $1000. Docket Entry No. 18-13 at pgs. 144-146. Because the murder convictions were based upon the death of the same victim, these convictions were merged by operation of law into a single murder conviction. Id. at pg. 147.
The murder conviction brought the petitioner a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. Id. The petitioner received concurrent sentences of twenty five years for especially aggravated kidnapping and four years for theft. Docket Entry No. 18-1 at pgs. 182-183.
The petitioner's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Trusty, 326 S.W.3d 582 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2010). The Tennessee Supreme Court later denied petitioner's application for further review. Docket Entry No. 18-20.
In August, 2011, the petitioner, through counsel, filed a petition for state post-conviction relief in the Criminal Court for Smith County. Docket Entry No. 18-21 at pgs. 5-23. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the petition. Docket Entry No. 18-23 at pg. 5; Docket Entry No. 18-22 at pgs. 191-205. On appeal, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Docket Entry No.18-26. The Tennessee Supreme Court once again denied petitioner's application for additional review. Docket Entry No. 18-28.
II. Procedural History
On March 20, 2014, the petitioner initiated this action with the filing of a petition (Docket Entry No. 1) under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, for writ of habeas corpus. The petition contains eight claims for relief. These claims include:
1) the petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel because his attorneys
a) failed "to move for a mistrial when two of the State's law enforcement witnesses (Corcoran and Wilkerson) repeatedly sensationalized benign pieces of evidence to augment their circumstantial case, disregarded limitations and rulings by the Court, and testified regarding matters which were clearly improper";
b) failed "to move for a mistrial when the State deliberately elicited testimony from a law enforcement officer (Corcoran) drawing a legal conclusion that Christine Hunt was the victim of the crimes charged in the indictment and that venue for the prosecution was proper in Smith County";
c) failed "to move for a mistrial after the victim's sons stood up, moved forward in the courtroom and yelled threats and obscenities at Petitioner Trusty in the midst of his testimony explaining how the victim's death was an unintended accident";
d) failed "to persist in a request that the trial judge recuse himself when the Court's tone and actions suggested the inability to be fair to the defense";
e) failed "to object and seek a mistrial when the State suggested in closing argument that the jury return a guilty verdict as a birthday gift to the victim's son, Andrew Clinton, and by drawing the ...