545 F.3d 265 (4th Cir. 2008), 07-17, Moseley v. Branker

Docket Nº:07-17.
Citation:545 F.3d 265
Party Name:Carl Stephen MOSELEY, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Gerald J. BRANKER, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Attorney General, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:November 03, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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545 F.3d 265 (4th Cir. 2008)

Carl Stephen MOSELEY, Petitioner-Appellant,


Gerald J. BRANKER, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Attorney General, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 07-17.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

November 3, 2008

Argued: Sept. 23, 2008.

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Paul MacAllister Green, Durham, North Carolina, for Appellant.

Valerie Blanche Spalding, North Carolina Department of Justice, Capital Litigation, Federal Habeas Corpus Section, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees.


Jonathan E. Broun, Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Durham, North Carolina, for Appellant.

Roy Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees.

Before TRAXLER, SHEDD, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge TRAXLER wrote the opinion, in which Judge SHEDD and Judge DUNCAN concurred.


TRAXLER, Circuit Judge:

Carl Stephen Moseley was convicted by a North Carolina jury of the capital murder of Deborah Henley and sentenced to death. After unsuccessfully challenging his conviction and sentence on direct appeal and in state post-conviction proceedings, Moseley filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. See 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254 (West 2006). The district court denied relief. We granted a certificate of appealability, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 2253(c)(1) (West 2006), to consider a claim raised by Moseley under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). Because the North Carolina Supreme Court's disposition of Moseley's Brady claim was neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by United States Supreme Court precedents, we now affirm.



Deborah Henley was a 38-year-old petite woman with a speech impediment who

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lived with her mother in the Old Town section of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. On Thursday evening, July 25, 1991, Henley's sister dropped her off at the SRO Club, a local dance club in Winston-Salem. According to her mother, Henley had approximately eight dollars with her when she left for the club.

Appellant Carl Moseley and two of his friends, Travis Key and Tony Casstevens, also frequented the SRO Club and were there that evening. Moseley and Key had spent most of the day together and had thoroughly washed Key's car, inside and out. Moseley then borrowed Key's car to go home and get ready to go to the club. Key later rode to the club with another friend, where he met Moseley and Casstevens about 9:00 p.m.

When the club closed at approximately 1:30 a.m., Henley went outside and asked Duane Shouse for a ride home, but he was unable to help her. An employee of the club offered to let Henley use the telephone, but Henley declined. According to several witnesses, Henley was instead telling patrons that she would pay $50 for a ride home. Moseley, Key, and Casstevens were also outside the club at the time. Key saw Henley talking to Shouse and, later, to Moseley. A few minutes later, Moseley approached Key and asked to borrow Key's car to take Henley home. Moseley told Key that Henley had offered to pay him $50 for the ride and that he would split the money with Key. Key initially resisted, but finally agreed. Key and Casstevens saw Henley get into Key's car with Moseley and drive away at approximately 1:40 a.m. Henley never arrived home.

Key and Casstevens stayed behind at the club to wait for Moseley to return with Key's vehicle. Based upon where Moseley said Henley lived, they expected Moseley to return in approximately 15 to 30 minutes. When Moseley did not return for more than an hour, the two men left the club in Casstevens' vehicle. As they were driving, they saw Moseley coming towards them in Key's vehicle. Moseley was alone. Both vehicles pulled over and the men got out. When Key asked Moseley where he had been, Moseley told the men that “ the damn bitch didn't live where she said she did." J.A. 883. Moseley told the men that she lived on the other side of King, North Carolina, presumably to explain his delay. That statement was untrue, but even if it had been true, the additional distance did not explain the inordinate delay in Moseley's return. In addition, Moseley told the men that Henley did not have any money. A law enforcement officer who happened by the area witnessed the three men standing beside the road and briefly stopped to ask if there was a problem. After taking Moseley home, Key returned to his home and went to bed. The next morning, Key noticed a small amount of dirt and weeds on the floorboard of the driver's side of his vehicle. As noted previously, Key's car had been thoroughly washed just before Moseley drove it to the SRO Club the previous evening.

On Friday evening, Tommy Beroth, a property owner in a rural area of Forsyth County, discovered Henley's body partially hidden under cut corn stalks in his cornfield. The cornfield was approximately five miles and a nine-minute drive from the SRO Club and within one mile of Henley's home. There was testimony that Moseley had travelled the roads near the cornfield in the past and, therefore, was presumably familiar with them. Henley was completely naked, and her clothing was never found. She had been brutally beaten about the head, face, neck, chest, and abdomen, sexually assaulted with a blunt instrument, stabbed twelve times in the chest, tortured by means of two long incisions

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on her chest and two more across her neck, and manually strangled. A single dark hair was found underneath one of her fingernails. There was no spermatozoa or semen detected.

The following day, Moseley called both Casstevens and Key and asked them not to tell anyone that he had been at the SRO Club on Thursday night because he was on probation and was not supposed to be drinking alcohol in such environments. Key and Casstevens, however, had been to clubs with Moseley before and Moseley had never previously made such a request. When Casstevens pointed out to Moseley that his name would be on the sign-in sheets at the SRO Club, Moseley told Casstevens that he had gone to Nancy Bolt's house that evening and that she would be his alibi.1

Aware by that time of rumors that a woman had disappeared from the SRO Club on Thursday night, Casstevens and Key contacted the police. The police obtained search warrants and retrieved the clothing that Moseley was wearing that evening at the SRO Club, as well as two pocket-knives among his possessions. Traces of blood were present on Moseley's boots, shirt, and jeans, indicating secondary transfer or spattering, but the quantities were insufficient to determine the origin. A pathologist testified that the size and shape of the wounds inflicted on Henley were consistent with the two knives seized by authorities. Although there was conflicting testimony from Moseley's soil expert, the state's soil analyst found the soil on Moseley's boots to be consistent with soil samples taken from the crime scene.


During the trial, the prosecution was allowed to present evidence of Moseley's alleged involvement in the similar rape and murder of Dorothy Woods Johnson, whose body was found in adjoining Stokes County, North Carolina, approximately three months before Henley was murdered.

Dorothy Johnson was also last seen alive at the SRO Club. She was 35 years old, petite, and also suffered from a speech impediment. On the evening of April 12, 1991, she drove to the SRO Club where she met her friend Sherry Hoss and Hoss's then-boyfriend, Dexter Mabe. During the evening, two witnesses at the club saw Johnson dancing and talking with Moseley, whose name appeared on the SRO Club's sign-in sheets. Moseley was wearing a cowboy hat and dark jeans. Hoss and Mabe left the club around 11:00 p.m. and walked to a nearby motel where they stayed for the remainder of the night. Johnson was still at the SRO Club when they left.

Johnson's nude body was later found in a rural area called Friendship Forest. She had multiple blunt force injuries to her head, neck, chest, abdomen, and body, and had been sexually assaulted. Spermatozoa and semen were present on vaginal and rectal smears. The semen was estimated to have been deposited within twelve hours of Johnson's death. Johnson had a single black hair underneath one of her fingernails. Johnson's car and her purse were left at the SRO Club. Pam James, a former girlfriend of Moseley, testified that she and Moseley would sometimes drive to the Friendship Forest area,

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near where Johnson's body was found, to have sexual relations. A resident of the area, and acquaintance of Moseley and James, testified that Moseley had once questioned her and her husband about their property and remarked that it would be a good place to leave a body because it would take days before it would be found.

During the initial investigation of Johnson's murder, law enforcement identified Dexter Mabe, Daniel Cannaday, and several other men as possible suspects. Mabe had dark hair, was dating Hoss at the time of the murder, was present at the SRO Club that night, and had been involved in disagreements with Johnson about his relationship with Hoss in the past. Cannaday was Johnson's former boyfriend and was known to have been possessive and jealous of Johnson before he ended his relationship with her. However, both men were ultimately eliminated as suspects. DNA samples obtained from both men did not match the DNA samples retrieved from Johnson's body and each man had provided an alibi for the evening.

The DNA profile from semen found in Johnson did, however, match Moseley's DNA profile, which was...

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