455 F.3d 662 (6th Cir. 2006), 01-4266, Keith v. Mitchell

Docket Nº:01-4266.
Citation:455 F.3d 662
Party Name:Kevin KEITH, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Betty MITCHELL, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:July 10, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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455 F.3d 662 (6th Cir. 2006)

Kevin KEITH, Petitioner-Appellant,


Betty MITCHELL, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 01-4266.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

July 10, 2006

Argued: July 20, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 99-00657—Peter C. Economus, District Judge.

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Harry R. Reinhart, Reinhart Law Office, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant.

Daniel R. Ranke, Office of the Attorney General, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.


Harry R. Reinhart, Reinhart Law Office, Columbus, Ohio, Carol Wright, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant.

Daniel R. Ranke, Office of the Attorney General, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: BOGGS, Chief Judge; and CLAY and GIBBONS, Circuit Judges.

BOGGS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which GIBBONS, J., joined. CLAY, J. (pp. 679 - 90), delivered a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.


BOGGS, Chief Judge.

Kevin Keith appeals the district court's order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Six claims were certified for appeal. Three claims concern ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) failure to properly investigate and present mitigation evidence; (2) failure to object to the court's removal of "scrupled jurors" during voir dire; and (3) failure to conduct meaningful voir dire. two claims concern the trial court's actions: (4) removing scrupled jurors without attempting to rehabilitate them; and (5) failure to inquire into Keith's reasons for filing an affidavit of indigency. The final claim (6) is that the cumulative effects of the above errors deprived Keith of his rights to effective assistance of counsel, a fair trial, and fair sentencing. Finding no prejudicial error in the proceedings below, we affirm the denial of Keith's petition for habeas corpus.


Keith filed his habeas corpus petition in September 1999, well after the 1996 effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"); therefore, the provisions of that Act apply to this case. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997); Frazier v. Huffman, 343 F.3d 780, 787 (6th Cir.2003), opinion altered on denial

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of reh'g, 348 F.3d 174 (2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1095, 124 S.Ct. 2815, 159 L.Ed.2d 261 (2004). The Ohio Supreme Court determined the facts that are quoted below, on direct appeal. Under AEDPA, "[i]n a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Also, Keith does not contest any of these factual findings.

Appellant, Kevin Keith, appeals from his convictions and sentence to death for the aggravated murders of Marichell Chatman, Linda Chatman, and Marchae Chatman and his convictions for the attempted aggravated murders of Quanita Reeves, Quinton Reeves, and Richard Warren.

On the evening of February 13,1994, Marichell Chatman, her seven-year-old daughter, Marchae, and Richard Warren, who had been living with Marichell and Marchae for several weeks, were at Marichell's apartment in the Bucyrus Estates. At the time, Marichell was babysitting her young cousins, Quanita and Quinton Reeves. At approximately 8:45 p.m., Marichell's aunt, Linda Chatman, arrived at the apartment to pick up Quanita and Quinton, Linda's niece and nephew.

A few minutes after Linda arrived, Warren, momentarily diverted from a basketball game he was watching on television, noticed a man standing outside the apartment door. Although the man began to walk away without knocking, Warren opened the door. The man turned and asked for Linda.

While Linda went outside and spoke with the man, Marichell told Warren the man's full name. Although Warren could recall only the first name, Kevin, he later identified appellant as the man at the door. Marichell also mentioned that Kevin had been involved in a big drug bust.

After a short time, Linda and appellant returned to the apartment, where appellant and Warren had a brief conversation. According to Warren, appellant appeared to have his turtleneck shirt pulled up over the bottom part of his face and even drank a glass of water through it.

After drinking the glass of water, appellant pulled a nine-millimeter handgun from a plastic bag he carried and ordered everyone to lie on the fioor. Appellant repeatedly scolded Marichell for using his first name when she asked what he was doing and why. Despite Marichell's pleas with appellant on behalf of the children, appellant placed the gun to her head. After ordering Marichell to be quiet, appellant said, "Well, you should have thought about this before your brother started ratting on people." Marichell responded, "Well, my brother didn't rat on anybody and even if he did, we didn't have anything to do with it." Testimony at trial confirmed that Marichell's brother, Rudel Chatman, was a police informant in a drug investigation involving appellant. According to the presentence report, the month prior to the murders, appellant was charged with several counts of aggravated trafficking.

Next, Warren heard a gunshot but was forced to turn away when a bullet struck him in the j aw. Warren heard ten to twelve additional shots, two more striking him in the back. After he heard the apartment door close, Warren ran out of the apartment, across a snow-covered field to Ike's Restaurant, yelling for help. Four or five more shots were fired, one striking him in the buttocks

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and knocking him down. Warren was able to get up and obtain help from the restaurant.

Another Bucyrus Estates resident, Nancy Smathers, heard several popping noises at approximately 9:00 p.m. As she looked out her front door, Smathers saw a large, stocky black man run to the parking lot and get into a light-colored, medium-sized car. As the car sped away, it slid on the icy driveway and into a snowbank. When the driver got out of the car, Smathers noticed that the car's dome light and the light around the license plate did not work. The driver rocked the car back and forth for nearly five minutes before he was able to free the car from the snowbank. Several weeks later, Smathers informed Bucyrus Police Captain Michael Corwin that, after seeing appellant on television, she was ninety percent sure appellant was the man she had seen that night.

When medical personnel arrived at the Bucyrus Estates apartment, Linda and Marichell Chatman were dead, having suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including fatal wounds to the neck or head. All three children initially survived the attack. However, Marchae's two gunshot wounds to her back proved fatal. The Reeves children each sustained two bullet wounds and serious injuries.

Approximately eight hours after the shootings, Warren was recovering from surgery at a Columbus hospital. During a postoperative interview with a nurse, Warren wrote "Kevin" on a piece of paper as the name of his assailant. Later that day, Bucyrus Police Captain John Stanley had two telephone conversations with Warren. During the second conversation, Stanley mentioned three or four possible last names for Kevin. At trial, Stanley could only recall that he mentioned the names Kevin Thomas and Kevin Keith. Warren stated that he was seventy-five percent sure the name he heard from Marichell was Kevin Keith. When shown a photo array of six suspects, Warren chose appellant's picture and told police he was ninety-five percent sure that appellant was the murderer.

Investigators recovered a total of twenty-four cartridge casings from the crime scene area, which had all been fired from the same gun. In addition to those, investigators recovered a casing found on the sidewalk across from the entrance to a General Electric plant. On the night of the murders, appellant picked up his girlfriend, Melanie Davison, from work at the entrance to the General Electric plant where the casing was found.

At the snowbank where Smathers witnessed the getaway car slide, investigators made a cast of the tire tread and of the indentation in the snowbank made by the car's front license plate number--"043." The indentation from the license plate matched the last three numbers of a 1982 Oldsmobile Omega seized from Melanie Davison shortly after she visited appellant in j ail, under the pseudonym of Sherry Brown, a few weeks after the murders.

The Oldsmobile was registered to Alton Davison, Melanie's grandfather, and was also regularly used by Melanie. Davison had put four new tires on the Omega six months prior to the murders. Davison estimated that by February 1994, the new tires had been driven less than 3,000 miles without any problems or need for replacement. Although the cast taken of the tire tread at the crime scene did not match tires found on the Oldsmobile Omega one month later, the cast did match the tread of the tires purchased by Alton Davison as shown on

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the tire's sales brochures. Additionally, the tires found on the Oldsmobile Omega had been manufactured in January 1994 and showed a minimal amount of wear.

The grand jury indicted appellant on three counts of aggravated murder, each carrying a specification that the murder was committed as part of a course of conduct involving the killing of two or more persons. R.C. 2929.04(A)(5). Appellant was also indicted on three counts of attempted aggravated murder. R.C. 2923.02.

After a two-week trial, a...

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