Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hamby v. Lee

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

January 5, 2018

WILLIAM DAVIDSON HAMBY, Jr. #135146, Petitioner,



         The petitioner is a state inmate serving a 14-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping in the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee. He has filed a pro se petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for the writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 1), and the respondent has filed an answer and relevant portions of the state court record. (ECF Nos. 24, 25, 30.) The petition will be denied, for the reasons set forth below.


         The petitioner was convicted of aggravated kidnapping on October 14, 2013, following a bench trial. (ECF No. 24-1, at 50.) The trial court held a separate sentencing hearing and sentenced the petitioner to 14 years in prison. (ECF No. 24-1, at 56.) The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals [TCCA] affirmed the conviction and sentence on April 27, 2015, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied review on August 13, 2015. (ECF Nos. 24-9, 24-10.)

         The petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in December 2015. (ECF No. 24-11, at 1-20.) The post-conviction trial court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition (ECF No. 24-11, at 23-30), but on February 9, 2017, the petitioner filed a pro se motion asking to dismiss his counsel and dismiss his post-conviction action. (ECF No. 24-11, at 31.) According to a minute entry on the state court's docket, attached to this opinion as Appendix 1, the post-conviction action was dismissed on March 1, 2017.[1]

         The petitioner filed his original petition in this court less than two months later, by submitting it to prison officials for mailing on April 28, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) He followed that petition with a second “petition, ” multiple notices, motions and other filings, many of which appeared to add to or argue the merits of his claims. (ECF Nos. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10.) Accordingly, when the court granted the petitioner's application to proceed in forma pauperis, it also instructed him to file “an amended petition clearly setting forth every claim he wishes to pursue in this case, ” and advised him that such amended petition would be “the only petition answered by the respondent or reviewed by the court, so the petitioner MUST make sure that it contains all of his claims.” (ECF No. 13, at 1-2.) The petitioner filed two more “notices” before receiving the court's order. (ECF Nos. 14, 15.) He filed his amended petition on June 27, 2017. (ECF No. 16.) The responded has filed an answer asserting that the petition should be dismissed, along with portions of the state court record. (ECF Nos. 24, 25, 30.) The petitioner has since filed four motions, asking to “present argument, ” for “rebuttal . . . retrial or release, ” for an evidentiary hearing, and for “reversal and remand, ” to which the respondent has not responded. (ECF Nos. 27, 31, 32, 33.)


         The TCCA summarized the evidence at the petitioner's trial, and his unusual behavior prior to the trial, as follows:

On July 8, 2012, the defendant struck his ex-girlfriend in a parking lot and forced her to come upstairs and into his apartment against her will. He was subsequently arrested and remained in jail, where he committed numerous disciplinary infractions, including flooding his cell and throwing feces.
On the morning of the October 14, 2013 trial, the defendant refused to come to the courtroom or participate in the trial. In the course of arguments about the feasibility of ordering the defendant's appearance, the prosecution suggested the defendant was obstructing the judicial process, citing a phone conversation before an earlier court date where the defendant had told a relative, “I know how to get this thing continued for a month or so.” The prosecution also stated for the record that the defendant had been evaluated by a mental health professional and found “competent and sane.” Defense counsel agreed that the defendant had been evaluated but requested a further mental examination, asserting that “[i]n light of this new episode by [the defendant], he needs to be re-evaluated.” During the discussion regarding the forced appearance of the defendant, defense counsel referenced the defendant's history of mental illness but stated that the defendant had consulted with him the previous day about trial strategy and had decided to waive his right to a jury trial by asking the judge to try his case. The trial court noted that the defendant could have been referring to new legal representation in the comment regarding a continuance. The court questioned whether it could “override medical staff, with regard to ordering one to appear in a particular place.” Before taking a recess, the trial court found that the defendant had been “quite lucid and … understood everything” at a court appearance approximately two weeks prior to the trial.
The record does not reflect any concrete details regarding the events of the morning nor does it reveal the manner in which the defendant's initial refusal to participate was resolved. The transcript merely resumes with the appearance of the defendant, who waived his right to a jury trial, and with the presentation of evidence.
The victim, Melissa McComb, testified that she had a history of crack addiction after losing a child in 1993. The defendant was her ex-boyfriend, and they had spent some time at a motel together a few weeks prior to July 8, 2012, but at the time of the crime, they were no longer romantically involved.
The victim had been smoking crack with Peter York, a friend, the night before the July 8, 2012 kidnapping. That morning, they were planning to do drugs, and she and the defendant had been exchanging text messages. Mr. York and the victim picked the defendant up off the street in front of his apartment complex. Both the victim and the defendant bought drugs. The victim testified that on the way to the defendant's apartment, she was in the back seat and the defendant was in the passenger's seat of the two-door vehicle. As they approached the defendant's apartment, the defendant kept asking her if she was coming in, but she did not respond because she did not want to go in or to anger him by refusing to go. When they arrived, she got out of the back of the car so that she could get into the front seat. The defendant accused her of having a relationship with Mr. York. The victim refused to go into the defendant's apartment. After her refusal, the defendant struck her in the face, grabbed her arm, and began to walk up to his apartment with her. She could taste blood after the defendant hit her. The victim testified she wanted to leave but was afraid he would hit her again if she broke away.
When they entered the apartment, the defendant showed her a ten- to eleven-inch knife, and she saw a larger knife under the couch. They went to the bedroom, she produced the crack, and they smoked it. The victim testified that the defendant forced her to remain in the apartment but did not force her to smoke crack. The victim later heard a knocking at the door, and the defendant looked outside and said it was the police. He walked her into the bathroom, opened the shower curtain, and told her to get in the bathtub and be quiet. The victim overheard him tell officers that no one else was there, and she coughed loudly in the hope of being heard.
Mr. York confirmed that he and the victim had been together prior to the kidnapping, doing drugs. However, Mr. York denied being under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense. Mr. York testified that he and the victim had been in contact with the defendant by phone and that they then picked him up. They made two stops, and the “main outcome” was to “score drugs.” Mr. York testified that the purpose of contacting the defendant was not to acquire drugs and that Mr. York could get his own drugs. According to Mr. York, the victim was in the passenger's seat and the defendant in the back seat. When they pulled into the defendant's parking lot to drop him off, the victim did not want to get out. Mr. York testified he did not want the victim to go with the defendant because the defendant had threatened to kill her. The victim raised the car seat to allow the defendant to get out. Mr. York testified that the defendant went out through the passenger's side door of the two-door vehicle and that there was a struggle during which the victim tried to shut the door. The defendant forced her out of the car, and he struck her in the face and “busted” her face open. The two went up to the apartment.
Mr. York called 911 at 8:20 a.m. on July 8, 2012. The recording of the call was played in court. During the call, Mr. York told the operator that a man had just “busted” a woman's face, tried to drag her into his house, and had threatened to kill her. He gave the number of the apartment unit that the defendant and victim had gone into and told the operator that the defendant had knives in his home.
Mr. York testified that he had not been in the defendant's apartment that day but had been there three to four days earlier, doing drugs. Mr. York acknowledged having a shoplifting conviction, numerous prior arrests, and mental health issues including diagnoses of bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizoaffective disorder, for which he was on medication.
Officers arrived on the scene shortly after the 911 call and spoke to Mr. York. Officer Joe Pennington testified that he saw blood on the ground where the assault had occurred and saw a trail of blood leading to a third floor apartment. Officer Pennington and Officer John Pryor both testified that they knocked on the door for several minutes and received no response. Eventually, the defendant opened the door. He was shirtless, and both officers testified he was sweating and had recent injuries to his hand. The ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.