424 F.2d 1166 (9th Cir. 1970), 24323, Brown v. Craven

Docket Nº:24323.
Citation:424 F.2d 1166
Party Name:Ben Lee BROWN, Appellant, v. Walter E. CRAVEN, Appellee.
Case Date:April 16, 1970
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 1166

424 F.2d 1166 (9th Cir. 1970)

Ben Lee BROWN, Appellant,


Walter E. CRAVEN, Appellee.

No. 24323.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

April 16, 1970

Rehearing Denied May 13, 1970.

Page 1167

Ben L. Brown, in pro. per.

Robert J. Polis, Deputy Atty. Gen., Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Los Angeles, Cal., for appellee.

Before TUTTLE, [*] ELY, and KILKENNY, Circuit Judges.

ELY, Circuit Judge:

Brown is a California state prisoner, confined as a result of his conviction of the crime of second degree murder. After exhausting available state court remedies, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the court below. The District Court called for and received a written response to the petition and thereafter denied the petition without having conducted an evidentiary hearing. Brown appeals.

We have concluded that the judgment must be reversed. Brown's petition set forth, in fine detail, numerous allegations of infringement of state and federal rights, including rights guaranteed by the federal constitution. In the light of our disposition of the cause, no essential purpose would be served by our review of all of the allegations, or of the record of the state court proceedings, in detail. Briefly summarized, the facts giving rise to the state court prosecution are as follows: Brown, with his fourteen year old son, shared living quarters with a woman who was the victim of the homicide. Brown and the woman apparently lived together as husband and wife. Before returning to their dwelling on the evening of the homicide, Brown and the victim had wandered in the company of each other. There are indications in the record that Brown drank intoxicants heavily during that period, but no direct evidence to that effect was presented

Page 1168

during his trial. The victim ingested a drug. A subsequent autopsy was performed on her body, revealing that a concentration of barbiturates was present in her blood. After the two returned to their home, and perhaps before, an argument between them, leading to violence, ensued. The woman went to bed, and going to sleep with a lighted cigarette in her hand, burned herself to some degree. According to prosecution evidence presented during the state court trial, Brown undertook to treat the victim's burn, applying some type of salve thereto. Later, Brown and his son discovered that the woman had apparently died. They immediately called for the police, who verified the fact of death. Upon learning of her death, Brown broke into tears.

When investigating police officers reached the home, one of them immediately began to question Brown without having advised Brown, in any way, of his rights, including his right to remain silent. During this initial interrogation, Brown, in response to the officer's question, stated that 'he had slapped (the victim) and that she had fallen off a chair or bench and onto the floor in the dressing room area.' The officer then advised Brown of certain of his rights, including the 'right to have an attorney represent him during all the stages of the investigation' and the 'right to remain silent or say nothing * * *.' Thereafter, and over the next two or three days, Brown made numerous incriminating statements, including the statement that he and the victim 'kept arguing and fussing from the time we got home until four or five hours later * * *' 'over her use of pills * * *' and that he 'picked up the chair (and) I hit her with it.' During the interrogation, Brown also told of having gone to bed with the victim, of having been awakened by her when the bed caught fire from the cigarette, and of having extinguished the fire.

When, during his state court trial, Brown's appointed attorney objected to the police...

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