397 F.3d 206 (4th Cir. 2005), 03-14, Humphries v. Ozmint

Docket Nº:03-14.
Citation:397 F.3d 206
Party Name:Shawn Paul HUMPHRIES, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Jon E. OZMINT, Director, South Carolina Department of Corrections; Henry Dargan McMaster, Attorney General, State of South Carolina, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:February 04, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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397 F.3d 206 (4th Cir. 2005)

Shawn Paul HUMPHRIES, Petitioner-Appellant,


Jon E. OZMINT, Director, South Carolina Department of Corrections; Henry Dargan McMaster, Attorney General, State of South Carolina, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 03-14.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

February 4, 2005

Argued: Oct. 27, 2004

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Teresa Lynn Norris, Center For Capital Litigation, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellant.

Donald John Zelenka, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellees.


Thomas R. Haggard, Ridgeway, South Carolina; Joseph Maggiacomo, Center for Capital Litigation, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellant.

Henry Dargan McMaster, Attorney General, John W. McIntosh, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellees.


Affirmed by published opinion. Senior Judge HAMILTON wrote the opinion, in which Chief Judge WILKINS and Judges WIDENER, NIEMEYER, LUTTIG, WILLIAMS, MOTZ, TRAXLER, KING, and SHEDD joined. Judge LUTTIG wrote a concurring opinion. Judge WILKINSON wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Judges MICHAEL, GREGORY, and DUNCAN joined.


HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge:

On August 5, 1994, Shawn Paul Humphries was convicted in the Circuit Court for Greenville County, South Carolina of murder, attempted robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and criminal conspiracy. Following a sentencing hearing, the jury recommended a sentence of death for the murder conviction and, in accordance with

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the jury's verdict, the state trial court sentenced Humphries to death for that conviction. After exhausting his state remedies, Humphries filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which the district court dismissed.1 On July 25, 2005, the district court granted Humphries a certificate of appealability, 28 U.S.C. § 2253. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the district court's dismissal of Humphries's habeas petition.


As found by the South Carolina Supreme Court on direct appeal, the facts of this case are as follows:

On January 1, 1994, Humphries shot Dickie Smith, the owner of the Max-Saver convenience store in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. The evidence at trial established that on the night before the killing, Humphries and his friend Eddie Blackwell drove around drinking beer. They also stole a gun that night. Shortly after 7:00 a.m. on January 1, they entered the Max-Saver convenience store. Smith, who was working in the store, asked Humphries whether he wanted something hot, and Humphries flashed the stolen gun and replied that he wanted money.

There was some evidence to suggest Smith then reached under a counter to pull out a gun. The video camera at the store recorded the shooting. When Smith reached under the counter, Humphries fired a shot in Smith's direction and fled from the store. The bullet fired by Humphries struck Smith in the head, killing him. Meanwhile, Blackwell slumped to the ground in the store. The police arrested Blackwell at the scene and apprehended Humphries later that day.

State v. Humphries, 325 S.C. 28, 479 S.E.2d 52, 53 (1996).

On July 12, 1994, a Greenville County grand jury charged Humphries with the following offenses: (1) murder; (2) attempted robbery; (3) possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime; and (4) criminal conspiracy. On August 1, 1994, the case went to trial and the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.

During the separate sentencing phase of Humphries's trial, the solicitor proffered, and the state trial court admitted, all of the evidence that was admitted during the guilt phase of the trial. Following the court's admission of this evidence, the solicitor called two witnesses from Dickie Smith's family, his brother Randy Smith and his wife Pat Smith. These witnesses testified about Dickie Smith's childhood, upbringing, work ethic, generosity, and close relationship with his young daughter Ashley.

Randy Smith testified that he and Dickie Smith grew up in a poor family that did not have hot water. When Dickie Smith was nine-years old, his father died. After his father's death, Smith and the other family members began working to support the family. Randy Smith testified that, when Dickie Smith was in the ninth grade, he took a job after school as a meat cutter at a Bi-Lo grocery store, working until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. at night. In the tenth grade, Dickie Smith acquired a full-time

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job working second shift in a textile mill while continuing to attend school. Randy Smith testified everyone in the community liked Dickie Smith and he was a good person.

During her testimony, Pat Smith described Dickie Smith as ambitious, hardworking, and generous. For instance, after receiving one technical degree and becoming a supervisor, Dickie Smith went back to school to get his residential home builder's license and began building houses in 1986. Ashley was born in 1988. Pat Smith described Dickie Smith and Ashley's relationship as very close and testified that Ashley was having a hard time since her father was killed and was receiving counseling.

Following this testimony, the state moved to admit a photograph of the crime scene and documentary evidence demonstrating that Humphries was adjudicated as delinquent in 1985 for two breaking and enterings, convicted in 1989 in Anderson County, South Carolina of burglary and larceny, and convicted of larceny in Alabama in 1990.

In terms of making a case in mitigation, Humphries's strategy was four-fold. First, he sought to establish that there was no intent to kill by demonstrating that: (1) he pulled the trigger after he panicked in reaction to Dickie Smith's attempt to reach under the counter; (2) he did not kill Donna Brashier who was also in the store during the shooting; (3) he drove off without Eddie Blackwell; and (4) he voluntarily confessed to the killing. Next, Humphries sought to demonstrate that he was a nonviolent person who had no significant history of engaging in violent acts. He also sought to show that he was a young man who had an extensive history of emotional, physical, and substance abuse. Finally, Humphries sought to show that he was a trustworthy, respectful, and pleasant person.

In support of this strategy, Humphries called thirteen witnesses. The first witness was Albert Humphries, Humphries's paternal grandfather. He testified that Humphries and his brother, Richard Humphries, lived with him and Humphries's grandmother from the time Humphries was three-years old until Humphries was twelve-years old. Albert Humphries testified that he and his wife were heavy drinkers and that his wife grew marijuana in their backyard. Albert Humphries described his son, Humphries's father, as unpredictably violent, noting that he had been to prison several times. Albert Humphries testified that his son had cut him on the arm with a knife and had kicked Humphries's grandmother in the face, knocking her false teeth out.

Patricia Goode, Humphries's aunt, testified that Humphries's father had said on numerous occasions that he never loved his children and that the children should have been aborted.

Humphries's mother, Carla Scott, testified that, after she left Humphries's father, she became pregnant with Humphries as a result of his father raping her at knife point. She stated that she eventually left the children with their paternal grandparents and married several more times. She reunited with the children only after she married someone who would allow the children to live with her.

Scott also discussed Humphries's criminal record. According to Scott, Humphries was arrested in 1984 for two counts of breaking and entering and was placed on probation. Thereafter, he was given more probation after he was suspended from school for fighting several times. After Humphries's second probation revocation when he was fifteen years old, he was sent to a state facility in Columbia, South

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Carolina for thirty days and was placed on probation again. Humphries was arrested in January 1989 for breaking into a church, apparently looking for food because he had been living on the street for a week. Humphries pled guilty to that charge and was placed on probation. In 1990, Humphries was charged in Alabama with stealing an automobile. As a result of that charge, Humphries was sentenced to two years' imprisonment followed by four years of probation.

Debbie Humphries, Humphries's step-mother, testified that Humphries's father used a combination of alcohol, drugs, and paint fumes every day and had shared those substances with Humphries from 1983 to 1992. Richard Humphries, Humphries's brother, testified regarding the circumstances in which he and Humphries grew up, including: (1) their father's violence toward his own parents; (2) the lack of hot water and sometimes running water; (3) the lack of food; and (4) the trips taken to the dumpsters to find school clothes.2

Preston Taylor testified that, when he was employed by the Department of Youth Services, he had numerous contacts with Humphries, who was thirteen at the time. According to Preston Taylor, Humphries was a pleasant, respectful, cooperative, and nonviolent boy.

Mary Shults, an expert witness with a degree in sociology and a master's degree in social work, testified regarding Humphries's social history. She related that Humphries had been reminded throughout his life that he was a product of rape. Shults stated that Humphries's father was incredibly...

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