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Dickson v. Leibach

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

October 8, 2019

KEVIN ANTHONY DICKSON, Petitioner,
v.
BLAIR LEIBACH, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS A. VARLAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Kevin Anthony Dickson, a Tennessee inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his Tennessee judgments of conviction for two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of aggravated assault. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the State-court record, and the law applicable to Petitioner's claims, the Court finds that the petition should be denied.

         I. SUMMARY OF RELEVANT EVIDENCE & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In January 2008, Christopher Lyons lived in a log cabin near Sevierville, Tennessee, with his twin brother, Anthony Lyons, and several other individuals, including Christopher Gossett [Doc. 29-4 p. 36-37, 81]. Petitioner purchased cocaine from Gossett in the early morning hours of January 6, 2008-a sale that was facilitated by Anthony Lyons [Id. at 42, 57, 83, 99]. After snorting some of the cocaine and believing it to be either counterfeit or of poor quality, Petitioner borrowed a .45 caliber handgun from a friend, drove to a Wal- Mart, and purchased ammunition for the handgun [Id. at 168-69, 183-85, 188-89]. He then enlisted the help of Jessie James Davis and Johnny Ramirez to help him confront Gossett and Anthony Lyons [Id. at 166-67].

         Later that night, on January 6, 2008, the three men went to the cabin armed with weapons [Id. at 21-22, 24, 49, 86, 87-88]. Petitioner carried brass knuckles and a metal baton, Ramirez was armed with the .45 pistol Petitioner had procured, and Davis was armed with an air pistol [Id. at 49, 86, 145, 167-68]. There were approximately 10 people in the cabin when Petitioner, Ramirez, and Davis arrived [Id. at 31]. After kicking open the door, the three men began demanding money and drugs [Id. at 21, 24, 92-93]. Ultimately, Christopher Lyons and an occupant named Rodney Hardin were shot by Ramirez, while Anthony Lyons was beaten with the baton wielded by Petitioner [Id. at 21, 47, 87-90]. After searching for and not finding Gossett, the trio fled. Both shooting victims survived, but Hardin suffered injuries that left him partially paralyzed, and Christopher Lyons suffered a serious leg injury [Id. at 23-24, 47-49]. Hardin and the Lyons brothers all identified Petitioner as one of the perpetrators [Id. at 24, 45, 54-55, 86-87, 119, 127].

         Petitioner was arrested on January 7, 2008 and was taken to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office, where he gave a statement admitting to going to the cabin to confront the drug dealers and “beat[ting] the shit out” of Anthony Lyons [Doc. 29-5 p. 54]. He stated that the other two people were injured “because of their two friends being shysters” [Id. at 68].

         Following Petitioner's waiver of the right to a jury trial, a bench trial was conducted where Petitioner was convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, [1] one count of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of attempted robbery [see Doc. 29-1 p. 47, 80-85; see also Doc. 29-4 p. 7]. He received a total effective sentence of 50 years [Doc. 29-1 at 80-85].

         On appeal, a divided panel of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (“TCCA”) modified one of Petitioner's convictions for attempted first-degree murder to attempted second-degree murder, and it modified the conviction for especially aggravated burglary to aggravated burglary. State v. Dickson, No. E2010-01781-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 2152078, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 14, 2012), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 413 S.W.3d 735 (Tenn. 2013) (“Dickson I”). The convictions were otherwise affirmed. Id. Both parties applied to the Tennessee Supreme Court for permission to appeal, which was granted [Docs. 29-18, -19, -20]. In an opinion filed October 8, 2013, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed both of Petitioner's convictions for attempted first-degree murder. State v. Dickson, 413 S.W.3d 735, 749 (Tenn. 2013).

         Petitioner subsequently filed two petitions for post-conviction relief in the convicting court [Doc. 29-9 p. 4-20; Doc. 20-10 p. 2-19]. After the State's responses were filed [see, e.g., Doc. 29-1 p. 31');">11 p. 31-34], an evidentiary hearing was held where the trial court granted Petitioner's request to represent himself after the withdrawal of his two prior appointed attorneys [see Doc. 29-9 p. 136, 137; Doc. 29-12; Doc. 29-13]. No. witnesses were called at the hearing [Doc. 29-13]. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court denied the petition [Doc. 29-11 p. 37; Doc. 29-13 p. 102-04]. The TCCA affirmed the post-conviction court's decision on appeal. Dickson v. State, No. E2015-01443-CCA-R3-PC, 2016 WL 1752931, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 29, 2016) (“Dickson II”). Petitioner did not file an application for discretionary review to the Tennessee Supreme Court.[2]

         Thereafter, Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, as amended, raising the following claims, as paraphrased by the Court:

Claim 1: Petitioner was denied the privileges and immunities of citizenship.
Claim 2: The admission of Petitioner's confession violated the Fourth Amendment.
Claim 3: The admission of Petitioner's confession violated the Fifth Amendment.
Claim 4: Trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance.
Claim 5: Petitioner was subjected to excessive bail.
Claim 6: Petitioner's confinement violates the Fourteenth ...

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