United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
T. Nixon Senior District Judge
petitioner is an inmate at the Tennessee Prison for Women in
Nashville. Through counsel, she brings this action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against Vicki Freeman, Warden of the
facility, seeking a writ of habeas corpus.
August 25, 2006, a jury in Davidson County found the
petitioner guilty of first degree premeditated murder, first
degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery.
Docket Entry No. 14-16 at pg. 97. Because the murder
convictions involved a single killing, the trial court merged
the murder convictions. Id. at pg. 99. For her
crimes, the petitioner received a life sentence for murder
along with a concurrent sentence of twenty (20) years for
especially aggravated robbery. Docket Entry No. 2 at pgs.
direct appeal, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
affirmed the murder conviction and sentence. However, the
petitioner had been charged with aggravated robbery rather
than especially aggravated robbery. As a result, the case was
remanded back to the trial court “for entry of a
judgment of conviction for aggravated robbery and a
sentencing hearing as to that offense.” Docket Entry
remand, the petitioner received a sentence of eight years in
prison for aggravated robbery. Docket Entry No. 14-26 at pg.
57. The Tennessee Supreme Court later denied the
petitioner's Rule 11 application for further review.
Docket Entry No. 14-25.
August, 2010, the petitioner filed a pro se petition
for state post-conviction relief in the Criminal Court of
Davidson County. Docket Entry No. 14-26 at pgs. 58-78.
Following the appointment of counsel, an amendment of the
petition and an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied
the petitioner post-conviction relief. Docket Entry No. 1-1.
On appeal, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed
the denial of post-conviction relief. Docket Entry No. 14-35.
Once again, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied
petitioner's Rule 11 application for additional review.
Docket Entry No. 14-39.
26, 2015, the petitioner initiated this action with the
filing of a petition (Docket Entry No. 1) for writ of habeas
corpus. Upon its receipt, the Court reviewed the petition and
determined that the petitioner had stated a colorable claim
for relief. Rule 4, Rules - - - § 2254 Cases.
Accordingly, the respondent was directed to file an answer,
plead or otherwise respond to the petition. Docket Entry No.
the respondent could file an answer, counsel for petitioner
filed an amended habeas corpus petition. Docket Entry No. 13.
The petition, as amended, contains twelve (12) claims for
relief. These claims include:
1) trial counsel provided the petitioner with ineffective
a) counsel failed to present evidence of petitioner's
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and other mental
shortcomings; at pg. 13
b) counsel provided faulty advice that led the petitioner to
forego her right to testify; at pg. 18
c) counsel failed to present evidence of petitioner's
sexual, emotional and physical abuse; at pg. 20
d) counsel neglected to investigate the petitioner's
family background and history of mental problems; at pg. 21
e) counsel failed to retain a mental health expert qualified
to conduct “an adequate forensic evaluation” of
the petitioner; at pg. 22
f) counsel did not include all relevant issues for review in
their motion for new trial or and on direct appeal of the
convictions; at pg. 27
2) the prosecution was unable to prove that the petitioner
had the requisite mens rea to kill, thus rendering the
evidence insufficient to sustain the murder and robbery
convictions; at pg. 16
3) the petitioner is actually innocent of first degree
murder; at pg. 17
4) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge
the jury instruction defining reasonable doubt; at pg. 28
5) the reasonable doubt instruction was unconstitutional; at
6) the mandatory minimum life sentence is unconstitutional;
at pg. 29, and
7) the post-conviction court erred when it failed to consider
petitioner's claim for coram nobis relief. at
before the Court is the respondent's Answer (Docket Entry
No. 15) to the amended petition, to which ...