United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge.
Raymond Swett, a prisoner in state custody, filed a timely
pro se Petition (Doc. No. 1) under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 for the writ of habeas corpus, challenging his
conviction in the Davidson County Criminal Court on charges
of first-degree felony murder, especially aggravated
kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. The respondent filed an
Answer (Doc. No. 17) in opposition to the Petition, along
with a copy of the underlying state-court record (Doc. No.
18). The matter is ripe for review, and this court has
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d).
initial matter, because the issues presented can be resolved
with reference to the state-court record, the court finds
that an evidentiary hearing is not necessary. See Schriro
v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 464, 474 (2007) (holding that if
the record refutes a petitioner's factual allegations or
otherwise precludes habeas relief, the district court is not
required to hold an evidentiary hearing (citing Totten v.
Merkle, 137 F.3d 1172, 1176 (9th Cir. 1998))).
upon consideration of the record as a whole, the court finds,
for the reasons set forth herein, that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief on the basis of any of the grounds
asserted. The Petition will therefore be denied and this
petitioner and two co-defendants were originally indicted in
a ten-count indictment charging aggravated burglary (Count
1), four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping (Counts
2-5), attempted first-degree murder (Count 6), especially
aggravated robbery (Count 7), first-degree premeditated
murder (Count 8), first-degree felony murder (Count 9), and
possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver
or sell (Count 10). (Doc. No. 18-1, at 4-16.) One of the
co-defendants agreed to testify; his trial was severed while
the petitioner and his other co-defendant proceeded to trial.
Just prior to trial, the state requested to amend the
indictment and proceeded on eight renumbered charges:
aggravated burglary (Count 1), especially aggravated
kidnapping (Counts 2-5), aggravated robbery (Count 6),
first-degree premeditated murder (Count 7), and first-degree
felony murder (Count 8). (Id. at 59-68.) The
petitioner pleaded not guilty to all charges. (Id.
October 8, 2010, a Davidson County jury found the petitioner
guilty of aggravated burglary (Count 1), one count of
especially aggravated kidnapping (Count 2), second-degree
murder (lesser included offense of Count 7), and first-degree
felony murder (Count 8). He was acquitted on the other
charges. (Id. at 76-83.) The court merged the two
murder convictions and sentenced the petitioner to life on
that conviction, twenty-two years on the kidnapping
conviction, to run consecutively to the life sentence, and
six years on the burglary conviction, to run concurrently
with the kidnapping sentence, for a total effective sentence
of life plus twenty-two years. (Id. at 82.) Judgment
was entered on November 12, 2010, and the petitioner filed a
timely Motion for Judgment of Acquittal or a New Trial on
December 2, 2010. (Id. at 84-85.) The trial court
denied that motion by written Order on January 24, 2011.
(Id. at 87-90.)
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the
petitioner's convictions and sentences on direct appeal.
State v. Swett (“Swett I”), No.
M2011-00439-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 53993, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App.
Jan. 4, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9,
22, 2013, the petitioner filed a pro se petition for
post-conviction relief in the state trial court. (Doc. No.
18-24, at 50-74.) The court appointed counsel, who filed an
Amended Petition. (Id. at 82-91.) After conducting a
hearing at which the petitioner and his trial attorney
testified, the trial court entered an order denying the
petition. (Doc. No. 18-24, at 97-118.) That decision was
affirmed. Swett v. State (“Swett
II”), No. M2014-02243-CCA-R3-PC, 2015 WL 5679292
(Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 28, 2015), perm. app. denied
(Tenn. Jan. 14, 2016).
petitioner filed his federal habeas Petition in this court
around August 9, 2016. After being directed by the court to
respond, the respondent filed his Answer on November 14,
2016. (Doc. No. 17.)
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals summarized the evidence
presented at trial as follows:
The facts of this case are largely undisputed. Following a
drug deal gone awry, the defendant and Calvin Hargrove went
to the apartment of Jessica Cain-Beaty, and, while there, the
defendant struck Ms. Cain-Beaty repeatedly with a gun while
demanding the return of money he believed was owed to him as
a result of the drug transaction. After one of Ms.
Cain-Beaty's friends gave him the money, the defendant
left the apartment and walked toward the exit of the
apartment complex. Just before the defendant reached the
exit, Jeffrey Beaty, Ms. Cain- Beaty's estranged husband,
confronted him. The defendant warned Mr. Beaty with the gun
while walking backward toward the exit. When Mr. Beaty
continued to advance, the defendant shot him.
At trial, Ms. Cain-Beaty testified that early in the day on
May 24, 2009, the defendant, whom she knew as Skeet,
telephoned her to inquire about purchasing prescription pills
from her, and she agreed to give him 10 pills that had a
street value of $20 and $20 cash in exchange for $40 worth of
powder cocaine. After they struck the deal, the defendant
arrived in the parking lot outside her apartment in a vehicle
being driven by an individual she did not know. Ms.
Cain-Beaty described what happened next:
I went to the window and I gave him the bottle of pills, the
ten pills, and twenty dollars cash. And then I waited for
what I thought I was supposed to get and he said he had
already . . . given it to me. And I said this . . . isn't
right. And I proceeded to grab the twenty off his lap and . .
. I went back inside.
She said that instead of $40 worth of powder cocaine, the
defendant had given her “just a little tiny crumb of
something” that “there wasn't enough to
do.” She put the cocaine under her bathroom sink. She
said that she talked to her friends, Major Drinks and Justin
Harmer, “for about five minutes” and that she
went into her apartment alone.
Ms. Cain-Beaty testified that approximately five to 10
minutes later, Mr. Drinks and Mr. Harmer returned to the
apartment and told her that the defendant and the other man
had returned. She said that she “got the door open
enough to let” Mr. Harmer inside the apartment, but she
was forced to leave Mr. Drinks outside; she shut the door and
locked the three locks to prevent the defendant's
entering. Ms. Cain-Beaty testified that when she told the
defendant that she was going to telephone the police, the
defendant said, “I don't care if you call the
cops” and then kicked in the door. The defendant, who
was armed with a handgun, grabbed Ms. Cain-Beaty by the hair
and dragged her into the bathroom, where he hit her in the
head with the gun a number of times and kicked her in the
head and face “repeatedly.” During the beating,
the defendant demanded the return of “his twenty
dollars.” Ms. Cain-Beaty said that the defendant did
not give her “any kind of chance to ever get” the
money and that she did not have the money because she had
originally borrowed it from Mr. Harmer and had returned it to
him after the deal soured.
According to Ms. Cain-Beaty, her neighbor, Mikhol Preston,
arrived at some point and gave the defendant $20 so that he
would leave. She said that the defendant broke her nose with
the gun and kicked her in the head before leaving through the
broken door. “About thirty seconds after that then the
door opened again, but it wasn't them, it was
Jeff.” Mr. Beaty asked what had happened and where her
attacker had gone, and she told Mr. Beaty that “they
had guns and they were crazy” and begged him not to go
after the men. She said that Mr. Beaty ignored her pleas and
left the apartment through the patio door. She eventually
managed to gain her feet and walked toward the door of the
apartment. Ms. Cain- Beaty testified that before she could
get out of the apartment, she heard a single gunshot. She
went outside and saw Mr. Beaty lying in the parking lot.
During cross-examination, Ms. Cain-Beaty admitted to heavy
drug use around the time of the offenses but denied using
drugs on that particular day. She also admitted smoking crack
cocaine with the defendant on an earlier occasion but denied
having a sexual relationship with him. Ms. Cain-Beaty
conceded that she lied to police about her association with
the defendant during an initial interview but said that she
later disclosed that the attack came on the heels of a
botched drug deal.
Major Drinks testified that he was living with Ms. Cain-Beaty
at the time of the offenses, but the two were not
romantically involved. On May 24, 2009, the defendant called
Ms. Cain-Beaty to inquire about purchasing some prescription
pills. Mr. Drinks said that he was standing in the breezeway
of the apartment building when the defendant arrived in a
sport utility vehicle (“SUV”) being driven by a
person that Mr. Drinks did not recognize. He recalled seeing
Ms. Cain-Beaty and Mr. Harmer approach the passenger side
window of the SUV and hearing Ms. Cain-Beaty say,
“Somebody's trying to beat me, he's trying to
beat me.” Mr. Drinks said that Ms. Cain-Beaty
“snatched” some money from the defendant and
walked back toward her apartment.
After observing the SUV exit the parking lot, Mr. Drinks
walked with Mr. Harmer back to Ms. Cain-Beaty's
apartment. Before they reached the apartment, they saw the
SUV return. Mr. Drinks said that Mr. Harmer ran to Ms.
Cain-Beaty's apartment and shut the door. The driver
parked the SUV, and the defendant and another man got out of
the SUV armed with guns. The men asked Mr. Drinks where Ms.
Cain-Beaty had gone, and he told them that he did not know.
The men then pounded on Ms. Cain-Beaty's door, demanded
that she open it, and ordered her to return the money. The
man with the defendant kicked the door in, and the defendant
entered through the broken door. Mr. Drinks walked in behind
him. Mr. Drinks said that once inside the apartment, the
defendant grabbed Ms. Cain-Beaty and dragged her to the
bathroom. Mr. Drinks testified that although he could not see
into the bathroom area, he heard Ms. Cain-Beaty screaming and
heard the defendant's companion say, “Why are you
beating her like that?” Shortly thereafter, the man
told the defendant that he was leaving and left the apartment
via the sliding glass door.
Mr. Drinks said that he followed the man out of the apartment
and saw the man get into the SUV and leave. He then went to
look for Mr. Harmer, whom he had seen leave the apartment
just before the defendant's companion. When he could not
find Mr. Harmer, Mr. Drinks walked back toward Ms.
Cain-Beaty's apartment. Mr. Drinks testified that as he
neared her apartment, he saw Mr. Beaty go into Ms.
Cain-Beaty's apartment. The defendant, he said, had
already exited Ms. Cain-Beaty's apartment and was walking
across the parking lot. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Beaty came
out of the apartment and asked Mr. Drinks where the defendant
had gone. Mr. Drinks said that he pointed the defendant out
but warned Mr. Beaty that the defendant was armed. Mr. Drinks
said that Mr. Beaty “seemed calm” and that Mr.
Beaty claimed that “he wanted to speak with the
gentleman in a calm manner.” Mr. Drinks testified that
he followed Mr. Beaty, who was walking at a “normal
pace, ” from a short distance. Mr. Drinks said that as
they approached the defendant, the defendant began to back
away but told Mr. Beaty, “I got something for
you.” Mr. Drinks said that when Mr. Beaty was
approximately “two or three feet in front of” the
defendant, the defendant raised his gun and shot Mr. Beaty.
After the defendant shot Mr. Beaty, the SUV, which had
returned just before the shooting, drove away, and the
defendant ran away in the same direction.
During cross-examination, Mr. Drinks admitted that he had
sold prescription pills for Ms. Cain-Beaty before and that he
told police that Ms. Cain-Beaty had been “turning
tricks with” the defendant the day before the offenses.
Mr. Drinks said that despite the defendant's warning Mr.
Beaty off, Mr. Beaty continued to approach him.
Mikhol Preston testified that at the time of the offenses,
she lived in the apartment directly above Ms.
Cain-Beaty's. On that day, she heard “a lot of
noise coming from outside, ” so she looked out her
window and saw Ms. Cain-Beaty getting out of a black SUV. Ms.
Preston said that she returned to what she had been doing,
but she went downstairs to investigate when she heard Ms.
Cain-Beaty yell several times. She testified that as soon as
she got downstairs, Ms. Cain-Beaty rushed her into Ms.
Cain-Beaty's apartment and locked the door. The two women
went into the bedroom, “and before [they] could even
start speaking again, [they] heard a noise[, ] and . . . two
other gentlemen entered her apartment.” Ms. Preston
said that the men were armed and that the defendant shouted,
“Where is my money, where is my money?” She
testified that the defendant then took Ms. Cain-Beaty
“by the arm and led her into the bathroom.” Ms.
Preston said that she heard “a loud smacking
noise” followed by Ms. Cain-Beaty's screaming,
“Stop, please stop hitting me.” She recalled that
the defendant's companion, whom she identified as Calvin
Hargrove, shouted for the defendant to “come on,
” and when the defendant did not respond, the man left.
Mr. Drinks and Mr. Harmer left the apartment behind Mr.
At that point, Ms. Preston testified, the defendant dragged
Ms. Cain-Beaty back into the living area of the apartment. He
hit her again and demanded the return of his money. Ms.
Preston said that she asked the defendant how much money was
owed to him, and he told her that Ms. Cain-Beaty owed him
$20. Ms. Preston said that she got $20 from her own purse and
gave it to the defendant. The defendant struck Ms. Cain-Beaty
“a few more times and kicked her” before he left
Ms. Preston testified that she got her purse and attempted to
leave when Ms. Cain-Beaty asked her to record the license tag
number of the SUV. Ms. Preston said that although she agreed,
she “wasn't going to go out there and get the
license plates” because she “was too
scared.” When she exited the apartment, she saw Mr.
Beaty running toward Ms. Cain-Beaty's apartment. After
Mr. Beaty went inside the apartment, Ms. Preston went to a
neighbor's house and knocked on the door until someone
let her inside.
Metropolitan Nashville (“Metro”) Police
Department Officer Ashley Kendall Coon responded to the call
of a shooting at the Pagoda Apartment Complex at
approximately 11:00 p.m. on May 24, 2009. When Officer Coon
arrived at the complex, he observed Mr. Beaty's body
lying “roughly thirty feet” from the front of the
apartment complex. Ms. Cain-Beaty was near the body, and
“she appeared to be cut up, looked to have been beat
on.” He said that “she was basically just in a
basic state of hysteria” and that, as a result, he was
unable to get any information from her. He called an
ambulance and tried to obtain information from other
witnesses at the scene.
Metro Officer Carroll Fondaw testified that he assisted in
setting up the crime scene and that he requested and reviewed
surveillance video recorded from the Walmart located across
the street from the Pagoda Apartments. He said that video
cameras recorded a dark SUV pull into the Pagoda apartments
at 10:53 p.m. The same vehicle exited the apartment complex
at 11:00 p.m. and returned at 11:08 p.m. The vehicle again
exited the complex at 11:12 p.m. and returned at 11:14 p.m.
The video then showed an individual running out of the
apartment complex toward the Walmart approximately 30 seconds
later. The SUV “followed, stopped briefly and then that
subject got into that vehicle and then it appear [e]d as
though that dark colored SUV continued east on Welch.”
Jennifer Grubbs, an investigator with the medical
examiner's office, testified that she responded to the
Pagoda Apartments and pronounced Mr. Beaty dead at 2:20 a.m.
She recalled that Mr. Beaty had “a black single drop
blade knife” in his “right rear pocket” at
the time he died. Ms. Grubbs removed the knife, along with
Mr. Beaty's other personal possessions, and photographed
them at the scene.
Shameka Saffold, custodian of records for Cricket
Communications, testified that cellular telephone records
showed that several calls were placed from a cellular
telephone registered in the defendant's name to a
cellular telephone registered in Ms. Cain-Beaty's name on
May 24, 2009, in the hours leading up to the offenses. The
last call was placed at 11:05 p.m. A call was placed to 9-1-1
from Ms. Cain- Beaty's cellular telephone at 11:10 p.m.
[Co-defendant] Maxwell Alexander Delancy testified that on
May 24, 2009, he was at Mr. Hargrove's house
“conversating, hanging out” when the defendant
arrived and spoke to Mr. Hargrove “about some sort of
drug deal he had for Hargrove.” Mr. Delancy heard the
defendant tell Mr. Hargrove that the defendant had “a
lady down there who has $20 and will give you $20 worth of
some type of pills for $40 of crack.” Mr. Delancy said
that Mr. Hargrove asked him to drive the defendant to make
the transaction and that he agreed because he owed Mr.
Hargrove money. Mr. Delancy testified that the defendant
directed him to the Pagoda Apartments and that when he pulled
into a parking space, “[t]he white lady that [he] had
seen came to the car, just directly to the car.” He
described what happened next:
And they're conversating and she shows him-she gives him
$20 already. And she gives him $20, he has the crack in his
hand. As he's about to show her the crack, . . .
she's opening up a pill bottle as well while he's
about to open up . . . his hand. He's opening up his
hand; she sees it. And she looks at it for a second; pauses
and looks at it. And then she goes on . . . . No, no.
You're not . . . about to get me. You're not about to
get me. No. No. No. Just carrying on and pretty much just
takes everything out of Swett's hand including her pills,
including that $20 and the crack, and walks off.
After Ms. Cain-Beaty walked away, Mr. Delancy “threw
[the] car in reverse and started driving.” He said that
he told the defendant that the defendant would be responsible
for telling Mr. Hargrove what had happened. Mr. Delancy
testified that the defendant said that he “didn't
give a f* * * that he got stolen from and he don't give a
f* * * about what Hargrove thinks.”
Mr. Delancy said that he drove directly to Mr. Hargrove's
residence. Once there, the defendant went inside first and
told Mr. Hargrove what happened. Mr. Delancy recalled that
Mr. Hargrove came to Mr. Delancy and told him that the
defendant wanted Mr. Hargrove to provide him with drugs for
setting up the deal with Ms. Cain-Beaty even though the deal
went sour. Mr. Hargrove then asked Mr. Delancy to return him
to the apartments to get his money back. Mr. Delancy said
that he did not want to do so, and the two argued. At that
point, Mr. Hargrove called in the debt that Mr. Delancy owed.
Mr. Delancy testified that because he did not have the money
to repay the debt, he agreed to take Mr. Hargrove and the
defendant back to the Pagoda Apartments.
Mr. Delancy said that during the drive to the apartments, the
defendant was “in the back pissed off that Jessica even
got over on him on this situation. And he's throwing
himself everywhere around the car, and making a big scene in
the car. Yeah, man; screaming, you know, I'm going to f*
* * this b* * * * up. She doesn't know me. She
doesn't know who I am.” Mr. Delancy testified that
Mr. Hargrove told the defendant to “calm the f* * *
down, chill the f* * * out, you're not going to do
anything, just calm down.” When they arrived at the
apartments, Mr. Hargrove told the defendant to call Ms.
Cain-Beaty, but the defendant was unable to do so, so the two
men got out of the car and walked to the apartment. Mr.
Delancy testified that “seven to ten minutes”
passed before he saw someone come out of the sliding glass
door and travel “straight up to another path of
stairs.” He then saw Mr. Hargrove stick his head out
the sliding glass door, glance both ways, and then go back
inside for “like 5, 10 seconds” before returning
to Mr. Delancy's vehicle. When Mr. Hargrove got inside
the vehicle, he told Mr. Delancy that the defendant was in
the apartment “beating her.” Mr. Delancy said
that he told Mr. Hargrove to “go get him, he's
going to kill somebody; go get his a* *.” Mr. Hargrove
instead ordered Mr. Delancy to leave.
Mr. Delancy testified that he complied with the order and
drove away. When they reached “the top of Welch Road,
” Mr. Hargrove “pull[ed] out a gun and thr[e]w it
underneath the seat.” At that point, Mr. Hargrove told
Mr. Delancy to turn around and go back to the apartment to
get the defendant because “he's going to kill
somebody.” Mr. Delancy said that when they pulled into
the parking lot, he saw “two individuals on down inside
the apartments along where the cars are parked and one other
individual and Swett. The one individual is walking up on
Swett, walking towards Swett. Swett keeps backing up; walking
up on him.” Mr. Delancy said that he pulled
“right next to both of them, ” and Mr. Hargrove
told the defendant to “quit f* * *ing around, get in
the car.” The defendant backed away and the other
individual kept walking toward him. Mr. Delancy rolled the
car forward to the point where both individuals were behind
it. At that point, the defendant shot the other individual.
Mr. Delancy testified that when he pulled out of the
apartment complex, he “almost hit” the defendant,
so he “slow[ed] down from snagging [the defendant] and
[the defendant] opened [the] car door and gets in the
car.” The three returned to Mr. Hargrove's house,
and Mr. Hargrove removed the gun from Mr. Delancy's car.
Mr. Delancy said that he spoke briefly with Mr.
Hargrove's mother and then left.
Mr. Delancy recalled that at some later date, Mr. Hargrove
called Mr. Delancy and said, “[Y]ou need to come over
to my house and you need to get this story together so what I
said to the detectives and what you're going to say to
the detectives hopefully coincides together and doesn't
make it look like he was leaving anything out of his
story.” According to Mr. Delancy, Mr. Hargrove also
told Mr. Delancy to tell police that they did not pick the
defendant up after the shooting.
During cross-examination, Mr. Delancy admitted that he lied
to police in his first two statements and only changed his
story one month before the defendant's case was scheduled
to go to trial. Mr. Delancy described the defendant as