316 F.3d 596 (6th Cir. 2003), 00-4373, Patterson v. Haskins

Docket Nº:00-4373
Citation:316 F.3d 596
Party Name:Eric Scott PATTERSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Thomas HASKINS, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:January 15, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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316 F.3d 596 (6th Cir. 2003)

Eric Scott PATTERSON, Petitioner-Appellant,


Thomas HASKINS, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 00-4373

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 15, 2003

Argued: Aug. 7, 2002.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Dennis C. Belli (argued and briefed), Columbus, OH, for Appellant.

Bruce D. Horrigan (argued and briefed), Corrections Litigation Section, Cleveland, OH, for Appellee.

Before: MOORE and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; ROSEN, District Judge[*]


GILMAN, Circuit Judge.

On the afternoon of December 17, 1994, Eric Scott Patterson was home with his three-year-old daughter, Lacey, who was not feeling well. At 4:00 p.m., Patterson called a neighbor, Curtis Jack Taylor, to ask if he would bring some Children's Tylenol to Patterson's house for Lacey. Taylor brought over the medicine at 4:45 p.m., and he remained there until 9:30 p.m. Patterson's wife, Lisa, returned home at approximately 11:00 p.m. About an hour later, Patterson gave Lacey some Pedialyte to settle her stomach. Shortly after 3:30 a.m. the following morning, the Pattersons

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heard Lacey moaning and breathing heavily. They called for emergency assistance at 4:11 a.m. An emergency medical technician (EMT) arrived promptly, but by then Lacey was not breathing. After being rushed to the hospital, Lacey was pronounced dead at 5:01 a.m. A subsequent autopsy determined that she died of peritonitis caused by the rupturing of her small bowel. Hospital personnel noticed multiple contusions on Lacey's body and that her stomach was distended, puffy, and hard to the touch.

The state of Ohio, proceeding on the theory that Lacey had been beaten and abused by her father, indicted Patterson for murder. The jury found him guilty of the lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter based on child endangering. He was subsequently sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in jail. After unsuccessfully appealing his conviction and sentence in the Ohio court system, Patterson filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in which he claimed that (1) a defective jury instruction violated his due process rights, and (2) his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence of guilt. The district court dismissed Patterson's petition after concluding that his claims were without merit. For the reasons set forth below, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court, GRANT Patterson a conditional writ of habeas corpus that will result in his release from prison unless the state of Ohio commences a new trial against him within 180 days from the date of this opinion, and REMAND the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


A. Factual background

At approximately 2:50 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday, December 17, 1994, Patterson's wife, Lisa, left home to go to work. Patterson remained at the residence with his three-year-old daughter, Lacey.

Taylor, a family friend who was a former emergency medical technician, telephoned Patterson at 3:30 p.m. because the two men had plans to go shopping together. Patterson told Taylor that Lacey was sick and that she had been vomiting. During a subsequent telephone conversation a half-hour later, Patterson asked Taylor if he would bring him some Children's Tylenol for Lacey. Taylor arrived at Patterson's home at approximately 4:45 p.m. with the Children's Tylenol that Patterson had requested. Patterson took the medicine and brought it upstairs. He soon returned downstairs, carrying Lacey in his arms. Lacey told Taylor, "I don't feel so good." After Lacey indicated that she wanted to go back to bed, Patterson returned her to an upstairs bedroom.

When Lacey began throwing up again, Patterson decided to buy her some Sprite to settle her stomach. He briefly left the house, leaving Lacey alone with Taylor for approximately 10 minutes. After Patterson returned, Lacey drank some of the Sprite, and she apparently began to feel somewhat better. Patterson and Taylor then watched television and talked while Lacey rested upstairs for the next several hours. During this time, Patterson kept going upstairs to check on Lacey's condition. Taylor left the house at 9:30 p.m. and returned home. At some time between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m., Taylor telephoned Patterson to check on Lacey's well-being. Patterson told Taylor that Lacey had vomited again and that he was cleaning her up.

When Lisa Patterson returned from work at approximately 11:00 p.m., she went upstairs to check on Lacey's condition. Lacey, who had been sleeping, told Lisa that her stomach hurt and asked for some 7-Up or Sprite. At approximately

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11:45 p.m., Patterson telephoned Taylor, who was then at work at a convenience store. Patterson asked Taylor if the store he worked at carried Pedialyte, an over-the-counter treatment for dehydration. Taylor told Patterson that his store did not stock Pedialyte, but he volunteered to call other area stores to find out who carried the product. After Taylor located a store that had Pedialyte, he telephoned Patterson and told him that the store with the product was closing in approximately ten minutes. Lisa then went to the store and purchased a bottle of Pedialyte. When she returned home, Lacey drank approximately half of the contents of the bottle.

Taylor telephoned the Pattersons at approximately 1:00 a.m. (on Sunday, December 18, 1994) to check on Lacey's status. Lisa told him that Lacey had drunk the Pedialyte and fallen asleep. Although Lisa expressed concern about Lacey's condition, she told Taylor that she believed that Lacey would be alright. Taylor shared Lisa's concern, but, at that point, he agreed that Lacey's malady could still be treated with over-the-counter medicine.

The Pattersons stayed up with Lacey until 3:30 a.m. At that time, they placed the child on a couch and went to their bedroom. A short time later, however, Lisa heard Lacey moaning and breathing heavily. When the Pattersons checked on Lacey, she told them that her stomach hurt. Patterson checked her stomach and found that it was unusually hard.

At approximately 3:50 a.m., the Pattersons telephoned Taylor and told him that Lacey's condition had deteriorated markedly and that her eyes were rolling back. The Pattersons told Taylor that they were going to take Lacey to the hospital, but Taylor advised them to telephone for emergency assistance immediately. After he hung up the telephone, Taylor rushed to Patterson's home.

Lisa telephoned for emergency assistance at 4:11 a.m., reporting that Lacey was unconscious and in need of medical attention. She later made a second telephone call for emergency assistance because the medical squad was having difficulty finding Patterson's address. EMT Brenda Fay Forker arrived at Patterson's home at 4:21 a.m. Because she was unable to detect Lacey's pulse, she began to administer CPR. Forker was unable, however, to resuscitate the child. A second emergency squad, the Community Ambulance Squad (CAS), arrived while Forker was administering CPR. The CAS attempted to establish an airway by intubating Lacey, but they were unable to introduce the tube into her lungs. The EMTs then brought Lacey out to their emergency vehicle in order to take her to Good Samaritan Hospital. At this point, Forker intubated Lacey and gave her drugs to try to stimulate her heart. These attempts to resuscitate Lacey were also unsuccessful. In route to the hospital, the EMTs continued administering CPR.

An emergency room nurse, Mary Katherine McGuire, met the incoming emergency squad at the entrance to the hospital. McGuire noted that Lacey was "lifeless" and "blue" upon arrival at the hospital. At this point, the hospital's respiratory therapist took over the attempt to resuscitate the child. When McGuire removed Lacey's nightgown, she observed multiple contusions (bruises) on Lacey's body. McGuire testified that some of the bruises were brown or light brown, while others were purple. This indicated to McGuire that the bruises were "in various stages" of healing. She noted that none of the bruises, however, were new.

While attempts were being made to try to resuscitate Lacey, McGuire went out to the waiting room to develop a case history. She asked Patterson if he could "please

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tell me has anything happened to Lacey in the last few days, few hours, anything." McGuire testified that Patterson told her that, "as far as trauma" goes, Lacey "fell down the stairs two weeks ago." She also testified that Patterson reported that Lacey had vomited a little on Saturday night, and that he had given her some Tylenol and put her to bed. According to McGuire, "[n]othing else unusual was noted about Lacey."

After various other attempts to resuscitate Lacey failed, she was pronounced dead at 5:01 a.m. Approximately two-and-a-half to three hours later, Captain Larry Sims of the Muskingum County Sheriffs Department questioned Patterson about his daughter's death. Patterson told Sims that, given how soon it was after her death, he did not think it was an appropriate time to talk. After his initial hesitation, however, Patterson agreed to talk to the investigator. Sims proceeded to ask Patterson about the bruises on Lacey's body. According to Sims, Patterson denied that she had any bruises. But when Sims showed Patterson some photographs of his dead daughter, Patterson "put his head down, appeared to be, you know, emotional, possibly crying. Then he just got up, [and] said he wanted to leave." Patterson did, however, say that he would be willing to speak to Sims later. The Pattersons also allowed investigators to search their house.

The Muskingum County sheriff, Bob Stephenson, spoke with Lisa Patterson shortly after Lacey's death, while she was still...

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