Assigned on Briefs November 1, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 09-02882 Glenn
Ivy Wright, Judge
Petitioner, Raymond Burford, was convicted of premeditated
first degree murder and received a life sentence. He appeals
the post-conviction court's denial of relief arguing that
trial counsel was ineffective by (1) recalling a witness
knowing that she would offer evidence of the Petitioner's
prior bad acts that had not been introduced in the
State's case in chief and (2) failing to adequately
research diminished capacity as a defense. Upon our review,
we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
J. Muldavin (on appeal) and Robert C. Brooks (on petition for
post-conviction relief), Memphis, Tennessee, for the
Petitioner, Raymond Buford.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich,
District Attorney General; and Lora Fowler, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE
night of February 14, and early morning hours of February 15,
2009, after dragging his wife, the victim, by force from a
Valentine's Day party, the Petitioner stabbed her nine
times and killed her. The victim's death was particularly
cruel with "one of the stab wounds to [her] head
pass[ing] through her right eye, 'through the skull
behind the eye, the bone of the orbit behind the right eye
and penetrated, partially, into the brain on the right
side.'" The victim's and the Petitioner's
two sons, ages fifteen and seventeen years old, as well as
three other friends of their family witnessed the events
leading up to the victim's death. Significantly, the
Petitioner provided a statement to police admitting to
stabbing and killing the victim. A Shelby County jury
subsequently convicted the Petitioner of first degree
premeditated murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
State v. Raymond Buford, No. W2011-00368-CCA-R3CD,
2012 WL 4340657, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 24, 2012). The
Petitioner appealed his conviction, which was affirmed by
this court. Id.
trial, the defense primarily relied upon showing the
Petitioner's diminished capacity at the time he killed
the victim. Dr. Hutson, an expert in the field of forensic
psychology, testified that "he found [the Petitioner]
competent to stand trial, but that Defendant suffered from
diminished capacity on February 15, 2009, when he killed the
victim. He said that in the Petitioner's case, there were
several "issues working or placing undue pressure"
on the Petitioner. Dr. Hutson characterized the factors
affecting Defendant as "situational stress, " and
noted that the Petitioner had never been diagnosed with or
treated for depression. He believed that the Petitioner
suffered from "at least, dysthymia, which is a level of
depression which is not incapacitating, or maybe at times, a
more significant depression, he was never incapacitated by
depression, though." Raymond Buford, 2012 WL
4340657, at *11.
A letter by Dr. Hutson, addressed to the court and dated
September 9, 2009, contained the following statement:
With regard to [the Petitioner's] mental condition at
the time of the alleged offense, it is the opinion of the
staff that at the time of the commission of the acts
constituting the alleged offense(s), severe mental disease
or defect did not prevent the defendant from appreciating
the nature or wrongfulness of such acts pursuant to T.C.A.
A subsequent letter to the trial court dated March 18,
2010, contained the following: "[The Petitioner]
appears to have some diminished capacity at the time of
this offense. His functioning was impaired by a combination
of intoxication (alcohol), depression, ...