783 F.2d 401 (4th Cir. 1986), 85-4004, Rook v. Rice

Docket Nº:85-4004.
Citation:783 F.2d 401
Party Name:John William ROOK, Appellant, v. Nathan A. RICE, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Appellee.
Case Date:January 31, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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783 F.2d 401 (4th Cir. 1986)

John William ROOK, Appellant,


Nathan A. RICE, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North

Carolina, Appellee.

No. 85-4004.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 31, 1986

Argued Jan. 9, 1986.

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John Charles Boger, New York City (David S. Rudolf, Durham, N.C., on brief), for appellant.

Richard N. League, Sp. Deputy Atty. Gen., Raleigh, N.C. (Lacy H. Thornburg, Atty. Gen. of N.C., Barry S. McNeill, Asst. Atty. Gen., Raleigh, N.C., on brief), for appellee.

Before K.K. HALL and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judges, and HAYNSWORTH, Senior Circuit Judge.

K.K. HALL, Circuit Judge:

John William Rook appeals from the district court's denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254. In his petition, he asserted constitutional infirmities in his convictions for first-degree rape, kidnapping, and first-degree murder and in his capital murder sentence. We affirm.


A detailed account of the facts of this case is set forth in State v. Rook, 304 N.C. 201, 283 S.E.2d 732 (1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1038, 102 S.Ct. 1741, 72 L.Ed.2d 155 (1982). The following is a summary of those facts relevant to this appeal.

On May 12, 1980, Ann Marie Roche was walking along a public road in or near the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, when she was abducted by a white man with long, blond hair worn in a ponytail. She was kidnapped and carried away in an automobile to a remote site several miles away, where she was brutally beaten, assaulted, raped, and run over by an automobile as she lay wounded and bleeding to death. The next day, her body was found.

Witnesses to the abduction had written down the license plate number of the car into which Roche was forced and had reported that license plate number to the Raleigh police. Upon investigation, the police discovered that the car had, at the time in question, been on loan to John William Rook from his neighbor. The police also

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determined that Rook matched the witnesses' description of Roche's assailant.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. on May 15, 1980, Rook was arrested by Raleigh police on unrelated misdemeanor charges of assault on a minor child and failing to appear in court on a charge of driving under the influence ("DUI"). He was transported to a magistrate's office, where he was read the warrants and informed of his rights. Rook advised the arresting officer, Ronnie Holloway, that he understood his rights and that he would answer questions without a lawyer being present. He was then taken before a magistrate, where bond was set at $1,000 on the charge of failing to appear on the DUI charge and $50,000 on the charge of assault on a minor. Thereafter, Rook was transferred to a jail cell.

Later that evening, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Rook was taken from his cell to an interview room. He was provided a copy of his rights and was again read those rights. He advised one of the officers in attendance, Freddie Benson, that he understood his rights and he did not want a lawyer present. He then signed a form in which he waived his rights.

After obtaining some identifying information from Rook, Officer Benson proceeded to question him regarding his whereabouts on May 12, 1980. Rook replied that he had been involved in a fight with some black people on that date. Officer Benson then, in a loud voice, told Rook that he was a liar. He read Rook a warrant obtained approximately two hours earlier, which charged Rook with the murder of Ann Marie Roche, and he advised Rook that he was being charged with murder. Subsequently, Officer Benson left the interview room. The two other officers in attendance, Officers J.C. Holder and Ted Lanier, remained.

After Officer Benson left the interview room, Officer Holder reintroduced himself to Rook and advised him that he was a Raleigh Police Officer. Holder then went over the rights form and waiver with Rook a second time. Rook advised Officer Holder that he understood his rights and the waiver of his rights. He told Officer Holder that he could read, and that he had had his rights read to him several times before.

Rook talked with Officer Holder about his drinking problem, a former girlfriend whom he had beaten up, and about his wife. He also told the officers that while in prison he attended AA meetings and thought that he had his drinking under control, but had started drinking again and needed help for his problems.

Holder advised Rook that neither he nor Officer Lanier could help him and that the only thing that could help him was to tell the truth. Holder told the defendant that it took a strong man to admit that he was wrong.

Rook then told Officer Holder, "Okay, I did it. I hope you're happy." Holder asked Rook to tell them about what had happened, and Rook proceeded to make detailed inculpatory statements concerning his activities involving the death of Ann Marie Roche.

Subsequently, Rook was charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping, and first-degree murder. Counsel was appointed for him, and he pleaded not guilty on all three charges. He was convicted by jury on all counts charged on October 23, 1980. Following the verdict, the trial court convened the sentence determination phase before the same jury, which recommended the death sentence for first-degree murder and consecutive life sentences for kidnapping and rape. Rook appealed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, which affirmed with Justice Exum concurring in part and dissenting in part. State v. Rook, 304 N.C. 201, 283 S.E.2d 732 (1981). The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. Rook v. North Carolina, 455 U.S. 1038, 102 S.Ct. 1741, 72 L.Ed.2d 155 (1982).

On July 26, 1982, Rook filed a motion for appropriate relief, pursuant to N.C.Gen.Stat. Sec. 15A-1411 et seq. (1978), in the Superior Court of Wake County. An amendment to the motion was filed on October 14, 1982. The Superior Court dismissed the motion, with leave to renew. Rook filed a renewed motion for appropriate relief on

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December 7, 1982. An evidentiary hearing was held on August 29--September 2, 1983, and September 19-22, 1983. The Superior Court denied relief and dismissed the renewed motion.

Thereafter, Rook filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, seeking review of the judgment of the Superior Court. That petition was denied, and the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. Rook v. North Carolina, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 608, 83 L.Ed.2d 716 (1984), reh'g denied, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 1237, 84 L.Ed.2d 373.

On June 4, 1985, Rook filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in United States district court. Following respondent's motion to dismiss, the district court entered a memorandum opinion and order dismissing the petition. Rook v. Rice, C/A No. 85-848-HC (E.D.N.C. October 18, 1985). Rook subsequently filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, and it was denied. The district court issued a...

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