551 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009), 00-4558, Murphy v. State of Ohio

Docket Nº:00-4558, 06-4428.
Citation:551 F.3d 485
Party Name:Joseph D. MURPHY, Petitioner-Appellant, v. State of OHIO, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:January 08, 2009
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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551 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009)

Joseph D. MURPHY, Petitioner-Appellant,


State of OHIO, Respondent-Appellee.

Nos. 00-4558, 06-4428.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

January 8, 2009

Argued: Oct. 29, 2008.

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Pamela J. Prude-Smithers, Ohio Public Defender's Office, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant.

Holly E. LeClair, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.


Pamela J. Prude-Smithers, Kathryn L. Sandford, Ohio Public Defender's Office, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant.

Holly E. LeClair, Charles L. Wille, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: NORRIS, COLE, and GILMAN, Circuit Judges.


COLE, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner-Appellant Joseph D. Murphy (“ Murphy" ) seeks habeas relief from his conviction and death sentence for the murder and robbery of his elderly neighbor, Ruth Predmore. He appeals from a federal district court opinion and order denying both his petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and his motion to alter or amend the district court's judgment. Murphy v. Ohio, No. 3:96-cv-7244, 2006 WL 3057964 (N.D.Ohio Sept.29, 2006) (denying petitioner's habeas claims but certifying his Atkins claim for appeal); Murphy v. Ohio, No. 3:96-cv-7244 (N.D.Ohio Nov. 9, 2000) (Doc. No. 136) (denying petitioner's motion to alter or amend judgment). The district court certified four claims for appellate review. Because we conclude that these claims are without merit, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of Murphy's petition for habeas relief.


A. Facts1

Ruth Predmore, seventy-two years of age and in frail health, resided alone at 887 Davids Street in Marion, Ohio. Defendant-appellant,

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Joseph D. Murphy, resided with his parents at 1049 Davids Street, was acquainted with Mrs. Predmore and had performed yardwork for her in the past.

Mrs. Predmore was a member of the philanthropic organization known as the “ Kings Daughters and Sons[.]" Since approximately 1983, the organization had collected pennies to support its charitable activities. As treasurer of the organization, Mrs. Predmore maintained custody of the pennies and other funds of the organization (which exceeded $100) at her home. The pennies were not in rolls, but were instead retained loose by Mrs. Predmore.

In mid-January 1987, [Murphy] told his girlfriend, Brenda Cogar, that he intended to write a note to Mrs. Predmore demanding money, and threatening her with death if she did not comply. On January 27, 1987, Mrs. Predmore visited a Lawson's store in her neighborhood near the intersection of Davids Street and Bellefontaine Avenue. While at the store, she talked to Janice Colby, a sales clerk, and displayed to her a note which she had received. The note stated as follows:

“ You don't have no phone. I want your money. put it in a bag and put it in your yard or i'll kill you tonite.

“ No money

“ No life

“ Tonite at 8:00"

On February 1, 1987, at approximately 7:00 p.m., [Murphy] left his parents' home clad in a blue tee-shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes, maroon vest and brown jacket with white fleece lining. He went to the Sohio gasoline station on the corner of Davids Street and Bellefontaine Avenue and requested penny wrappers. A clerk provided used penny wrappers. At approximately 9:00 p.m., [Murphy] telephoned his mother and informed her that he had found a credit card.

That same evening, between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, Mrs. Predmore was killed by a five-inch knife wound to her neck. The knife severed the trachea, the esophagus, and the right and left carotid arteries and jugular veins.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., [Murphy] returned home. Although his hands and face were covered with blood, he displayed no cuts or bruises on his body. There was no blood on his clothing. He explained that the blood was the result of a fight. Thereafter, he went to the bedroom of his brother Michael where they counted pennies and placed them in paper rolls. The next morning, [Murphy] had a black bag of pennies in paper rolls, some of which he offered his mother to purchase cigarettes. On February 3, 1987, [Murphy] entered Lawson's store, showed the manager some rolled pennies in a dark bag and asked whether she would exchange the coins for currency. The manager declined.

Jackie Valentine was a supervisor for the Homemaker and Chore Program of the Marion County Department of Human Services, which delivered meals to the elderly who were unable to leave their homes. On February 2, 1987, Valentine received a telephone call informing her that Mrs. Predmore had not responded when a meal was delivered to her home. Upon arriving at the home of Mrs. Predmore, Valentine entered the unlocked front door and discovered the lifeless body of Mrs. Predmore. Valentine thereafter summoned the Marion city police.

The first officer to arrive, Detective Sammie L. Justice, discovered footprints in blood on the front porch and blood splattered on the screen door and wooden front door. Thereafter, Agents Robert

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D. Setzer and David Barnes of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (“ BCI" ) searched the Predmore residence. They discovered in the living room the note that Ruth Predmore had previously shown to Janice Colby. Agent Setzer also took blood samples from the shoeprints found on the porch of the Predmore house. Subsequent analysis revealed that the blood was of Ruth Predmore's type.

Meanwhile, as some of the members of the Murphy family were preparing to travel to West Virginia, they noticed the police activity at the Predmore home down the street. [Murphy] appeared agitated and ventured the opinion that Mrs. Predmore must have been murdered. Thereafter, [Murphy] placed a telephone call to Cynthia Nichols, his aunt, and asked her whether he could stay with her for a while at her residence in the Wood Valley Trailer Park in Caledonia, Ohio. After she agreed, [Murphy] and Brenda Cogar departed for Caledonia at approximately 8:00 p.m. After their arrival, [Murphy] admitted to Cogar that he had killed Mrs. Predmore by slashing her throat with a knife he had taken from a collection of his brother.

On February 3, 1987, Detective Wayne J. Creasap discovered a wallet belonging to Mrs. Predmore underneath a shrub, approximately fifty yards south of the Murphy residence.

Thereafter, police searched the Murphy residence and found a pair of gloves, a brown windbreaker jacket with white fleece, a woman's purse, penny wrappers, rolled pennies and writing paper of the type upon which the note found in the Predmore home was written. A subsequent search of the residence revealed a pair of blood-stained blue jeans.

Police then traveled to Caledonia, arrested [Murphy] and advised him of his rights to remain silent and have the assistance of counsel.

At approximately 8:06 p.m., BCI agents searched the house trailer of Cynthia Nichols. Among the items recovered were a pair of tennis shoes and a maroon blood-stained vest. Subsequent analysis of the tennis shoes, the gloves, the jacket, the purse and the blue jeans revealed the presence of Type A blood. While both [Murphy] and Mrs. Predmore had Type A blood, Mrs. Predmore had blood containing a PGM +1 enzyme factor while [Murphy] had a PGM +2 enzyme factor. Sixteen percent of the population have blood of the type and enzyme factor of Mrs. Predmore's. The blue jeans recovered from the home of appellant had blood stains of those characteristics.

Meanwhile, [Murphy] was transported to the Marion police station. Upon arrival, [Murphy] was again advised of his constitutional rights and acknowledged that he understood them. Following both oral and written instructions regarding his rights, [Murphy] executed a written waiver prior to any conversation with police detectives. The subsequent interview was taped and a transcription thereof produced. During the interview, Sergeant John Gosnell of the Marion County Sheriff's Department alluded to prior criminal acts of [Murphy] involving arson and breaking and entering. [Murphy] acknowledged that he had written the note found in the home of Mrs. Predmore, which she had previously shown to Janice Colby.

On February 4, 1987, [Murphy] sent word from jail that he wished to continue the interview.

This second interview was likewise taped and transcribed. At approximately

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11:13 p.m., [Murphy] was again advised of his rights and again executed a waiver form. During this interview, [Murphy] denied any involvement in the death of Mrs. Predmore and implicated Alvie Coykendall, his brother-in-law, in the crime. [Murphy] volunteered to submit to a polygraph examination.

On February 8, 1987, police again searched the Murphy residence, and recovered a knife lodged in the concrete foundation of the home. It was part of the collection belonging to David Murphy, [Murphy's] brother. Analysis of the knife revealed traces of blood. Shortly after this search, Murphy's mother discovered a plastic bank card bearing the name of Ruth Predmore under a mattress in a basement bedroom of her home.

Murphy, 605 N.E.2d at 888-90. B. Procedural History

1. State Court

On direct appeal, the state court of appeals affirmed Murphy's convictions and death sentence. State v. Murphy, No. 9-87-35, 1991 WL 117226, at *21 (Ohio Ct.App. June 26, 1991). On December 30, 1992, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court. State v. Murphy, 65 Ohio St.3d 554, 605 N.E.2d 884, 909 (1992).

In 1994, Murphy filed his first petition for post-conviction relief in the state trial court, which denied the petition without conducting an evidentiary hearing on the matter. The Ohio court of appeals affirmed the trial court's decision, ...

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