722 F.3d 739 (6th Cir. 2013), 01-3613, Stumpf v. Robinson

Docket Nº:01-3613.
Citation:722 F.3d 739
Opinion Judge:BOGGS, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:John David STUMPF, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Norm ROBINSON, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Attorney:Alan M. Freedman, Midwest Center For Justice, Ltd., Evanston, Illinois, for Appellant. Alexandra T. Schimmer, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee. Alan M. Freedman, Carol R. Heise, Midwest Center For Justice, Ltd., Evanston, Illinois, for Appellant. Alexandra T. Schi...
Judge Panel:Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; MARTIN, BOGGS, DAUGHTREY, MOORE, COLE, CLAY, GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE, GRIFFIN, KETHLEDGE, WHITE, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges. BOGGS, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BATCHELDER, C.J., GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE,...
Case Date:July 03, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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722 F.3d 739 (6th Cir. 2013)

John David STUMPF, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Norm ROBINSON, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 01-3613.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

July 3, 2013

Argued: June 6, 2012.

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ARGUED:

Alan M. Freedman, Midwest Center For Justice, Ltd., Evanston, Illinois, for Appellant.

Alexandra T. Schimmer, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Alan M. Freedman, Carol R. Heise, Midwest Center For Justice, Ltd., Evanston, Illinois, for Appellant.

Alexandra T. Schimmer, Thomas Madden, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; MARTIN, BOGGS, DAUGHTREY, MOORE, COLE, CLAY, GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE, GRIFFIN, KETHLEDGE, WHITE, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.

BOGGS, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BATCHELDER, C.J., GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE, GRIFFIN, and KETHLEDGE, JJ., joined. DAUGHTREY, J. (pp. 754-63), delivered a separate dissent, in which MARTIN, MOORE, COLE, CLAY, STRANCH, and DONALD, JJ., joined. WHITE, J. (pp. 763-67), delivered a separate dissent.

OPINION

BOGGS, Circuit Judge.

John David Stumpf filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court following unsuccessful state attacks on his conviction and death sentence for a murder that he committed with Daniel Wesley. The district court denied the petition. We reversed that judgment, but the Supreme Court unanimously reversed us. Bradshaw v. Stumpf, 545 U.S. 175, 125 S.Ct. 2398, 162 L.Ed.2d 143 (2005). The court remanded so that we could consider what is now Stumpf's primary argument: that his due-process rights were violated at sentencing. This is so, he argues, because the State, in a wholly separate proceeding following his conviction and sentence, presented new evidence, which arose after his trial, that Wesley may have actually fired the fatal shots.

Because all of the available evidence was at all times presented to all of the courts involved, and because the Ohio courts, both trial and appellate, independently weighed all of the available evidence and found death to be the proper sentence, no due-process violation occurred. We now affirm the district court.

I

On May 14, 1984, Stumpf, Clyde Daniel Wesley, and Norman Leroy Edmonds drove along Interstate 70 near Washington, Pennsylvania. The three had been drinking at a nearby bar and continued to drink from a supply of beer they had in the car. Also in the car were three handguns: a nine-millimeter that belonged to Edmonds, a chrome-plated .25-caliber Raven that also belonged to Edmonds, and a .25-caliber Armi that belonged to Wesley.

Around dusk, Stumpf, Wesley, and Edmonds pulled over in Guernsey County, Ohio. Stumpf and Wesley walked to a home some hundred yards away from the road and rang the doorbell. Both were armed. Norman Stout and his wife, Mary Jane, were seated at their kitchen table. Mr. Stout answered the door. Stumpf and Wesley convinced Mr. Stout to let them in the house, claiming that they needed to use the phone. Robbery, though, was their aim. After Stumpf used the phone— and wiped it with a handkerchief— he and Wesley drew their guns and told the Stouts that a robbery was in progress. Stumpf and Wesley herded the Stouts into a bedroom, where Stumpf held them at gunpoint while Wesley scoured the house.

Mr. Stout eventually moved toward Stumpf. Stumpf shot him between the

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eyes with the Raven. Undeterred, Mr. Stout grappled with Stumpf, who pushed him into a second bedroom across the hall. Although Mr. Stout does not remember when, he was shot again, this time in the top of the head. Mr. Stout also suffered a bruise consistent with being struck by the butt end of a gun. The next thing that Mr. Stout remembers is hearing two male voices conversing in a normal tone, followed by four gunshots. Mr. Stout again lost consciousness; his next recollection was being in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The four shots that Mr. Stout heard were the shots that killed his wife, Mary Jane. Three went into the left side of her face, one went through her left wrist. All four bullets came from the same gun, as did the bullets used to shoot Mr. Stout.1 Stumpf and Wesley drove off in Mrs. Stout's car with the proceeds of their crime. Stumpf threw the Raven out the window.

Edmonds, who had been waiting in the car on the side of the road, saw Mrs. Stout's car pull out of the garage. Frightened, he drove away. He stopped for gas in New Concord, Ohio, made a phone call to his family in Texas, and left without paying for his gas. Two men chased him, but quit their pursuit when Edmonds fired his nine-millimeter pistol at them. Edmonds went back to Washington, Pennsylvania.

The next day, Stumpf and Wesley abandoned Mrs. Stout's car after wiping it clean of fingerprints. They reunited with Edmonds, and sold the nine-millimeter pistol and a .357 Magnum that they stole from Mr. Stout for travel money. Wesley and Edmonds drove back to Texas; Stumpf stayed in Pennsylvania.

Investigators found Edmonds by tracing the phone call that he made from the gas station. After his arrest, Edmonds implicated Stumpf and Wesley. The police issued arrest warrants for both. When he learned of the warrant for his arrest, Stumpf surrendered, denying any involvement in the crimes. After he found out that Mr. Stout survived, however, Stumpf admitted that he participated in the robbery and that he shot Mr. Stout in the head. Still, he claimed that he went straight to Mrs. Stout's car after shooting Mr. Stout, and thus was not in the house when Mrs. Stout was killed.

Prosecutors indicted Stumpf on charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and two counts of grand theft— one of an automobile and the other of a firearm. Included with the aggravated-murder charge were four specifications, three of which made Stumpf eligible for the death penalty. Stumpf waived his right to be tried by a jury, and the case proceeded in front of a three-judge panel. Before trial began, Stumpf decided to plead guilty. The plea bargain provided that Stumpf would plead guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated attempted murder, and the specification of using a firearm while committing a felony. He also admitted to one of the three capital specifications charged— committing murder for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for attempted robbery and attempted aggravated murder. In return, the State would drop the remaining charges. The three-judge panel conducted an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there was a factual basis. Satisfied that there was, the panel conducted a colloquy and accepted Stumpf's plea.

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Because Stumpf was eligible for the death penalty even after his plea, the three-judge panel held a sentencing hearing. There, Stumpf's leitmotif was that he acted under Wesley's influence. He claimed that his propensity for being a follower, rather than a leader, his consumption of alcohol, his youth, 2 and his limited mental abilities made him extraordinarily susceptible to Wesley's influence. Stumpf also suggested that his respect for women generally and his lack of a significant criminal history reinforced the claim that he was simply following Wesley's lead. Finally, Stumpf argued— based on his own unsworn statement and inferences drawn from the evidence— that he was a participant in Mrs. Stout's murder, but not the principal offender.3 He claimed that he dropped the Raven during his struggle with Mr. Stout and ran out of the house in panic, then remained outside of the house until Wesley instructed him to drive Mrs. Stout's car, after Wesley fired the shots that killed Mrs. Stout.

The State told a different story. It emphasized that Stumpf " did most of the talking ... [and was] the one that used the telephone" when Stumpf and Wesley first approached the Stouts' home, noted that Stumpf wiped his fingerprints off of the receiver after he finished using it, and reminded the judges that Mr. Stout did not recall Stumpf dropping his gun and did hear two male voices conversing at a normal volume before hearing the four gunshots that killed his wife. In addressing the principal-offender argument directly, the prosecutor said:

I don't believe it is necessary for this court to conclude that [Stumpf] was the principal offender, that is, the actual shooter. I think there is ample evidence— I'm not conceding that at all. I think there's ample evidence in this record that this defendant fired the four shots into the body of Mary Jane Stout.

The prosecutor then pointed to inconsistencies in accounts that Stumpf had given at various points and continued: " So, there's ample, ample evidence in this record to make the reasonable inference that this defendant shot both those individuals." Still, the State again emphasized, the panel could impose the death penalty even if it did not believe that Stumpf had killed Mrs. Stout himself. The panel, after deliberation, found " beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was the principal offender" in Mrs. Stout's murder and imposed the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Wesley had been arrested in Texas. After being extradited to Ohio, he shared a cell with James Eastman. Eastman claimed that Wesley told him that he, not Stumpf, fired the shots that killed Mrs. Stout. Wesley stood trial in front of a jury. The same judge who presided over Stumpf's three-judge panel presided over Wesley's trial. The same prosecutor tried the case. This time, after presenting...

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