Andrew v. Moham

Decision Date09 September 2015
Docket NumberCase No. CIV-08-832-R
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Oklahoma
PartiesBRENDA EVERS ANDREW, Petitioner, v. RICKEY MOHAM, Warden, Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, Respondent.

Petitioner, a state prisoner currently facing execution of a sentence of death, appears with counsel and petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging her convictions in the District Court of Oklahoma County, Case No. CF-2001-6189, of one count of first-degree malice aforethought murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree malice aforethought murder. Respondent has responded to Petitioner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (hereinafter "Petition"),1 and Petitioner has replied. The State court record has been supplied.2


Petitioner was convicted by a jury in the District Court of Oklahoma County of one count of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the death of her husband, Robert Andrew. For the crime of first-degree malice aforethought murder, the jury recommended the imposition of a sentence of death, finding the existence of two aggravating circumstances: (1) the murder was committed for remuneration or the promise of remuneration; and (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. She was also sentenced on the conspiracy count to ten years imprisonment and a $5000.00 fine.

Petitioner appealed her convictions and sentences to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (hereinafter "OCCA"). The OCCA affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence of death in a published opinion dated June 21, 2007. Andrew v. State, 164 P.3d 176 (Okla. Crim. App. 2007). Petitioner's petition for rehearing was denied. At the same time the OCCA corrected its earlier opinion. Andrew v. State, 168 P.3d 1150 (Okla. Crim. App. 2007). Certiorari was denied on April 14, 2008. Andrew v. Oklahoma, 552 U.S. 1319, 128 S.Ct. 1889 (2008). Petitioner filed an Application for Post-Conviction Relief which was denied by the OCCA in an unpublished opinion. Andrew v. State, No. PCD-2005-176 (Okla. Crim. App. Jun. 17, 2008).


Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e), when a federal district court addresses "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). For the purposes of consideration of the present Petition, the Courtprovides and relies upon the following synopsis from the OCCA's opinion summarizing the evidence presented at Petitioner's trial. Following review of the record, trial transcripts, and the admitted exhibits, the Court finds this summary by the OCCA to be adequate and accurate. The Court therefore adopts the following summary of the facts as its own:

Appellant's husband Robert ("Rob") Andrew was shot to death at their Oklahoma City home sometime around 7:00 p.m. on November 20, 2001. Appellant was also shot in the arm during this incident.
The Andrews were separated at the time and Rob Andrew was at the home to pickup the two minor children for visitation over the Thanksgiving holiday. The custom was that Appellant would bring the children out to the car and Rob would take them from there. However, on this night, Appellant asked Rob Andrew to come into the garage to light the pilot light on the furnace because it had gone out.
Appellant's version of the events from that point on was that as Rob was trying to light the furnace, two masked men entered the garage. Rob turned to face the men and was shot in the abdomen. He grabbed a bag of aluminum cans to defend himself and was shot again. Appellant was hit during this second shot.
Undisputed facts showed that after that, Appellant called 911 and reported that her husband had been shot. Emergency personnel arrived and found Rob Andrew's body on the floor of the garage; he had suffered extensive blood loss and they were unable to revive him. Appellant had also suffered a superficial gunshot wound to her arm. The Andrew children were found in a bedroom, watching television with the volume turned up very high, oblivious to what had happened in the garage.
Appellant was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Her behavior was described by several witnesses, experienced in dealing with people in traumatic situations, as uncharacteristically calm for a woman whose husband had just been gunned down.
Rob Andrew was shot twice with a shotgun. A spent 16-gauge shotgun shell was found in the garage on top of the family van. Rob Andrew owned a 16-gauge shotgun, but had told several friends that Appellant refused to lethim take it when they separated. Rob Andrew's shotgun was missing from the home. One witness testified to seeing Appellant at an area used for firearm target practice near her family's rural Garfield County home eight days before the murder and he later found several 16-gauge shotgun shells at the site.
Appellant's superficial wound was caused by a .22 caliber bullet, apparently fired at close range, which was inconsistent with her claim that she was shot at some distance. About a week before the murder, Pavatt purchased a .22 caliber handgun from a local gun shop. Janna Larson, Pavatt's daughter testified that, on the day of the murder, Pavatt borrowed her car and claimed he was going to have it serviced for her. When he returned it the morning after the murder, the car had not been serviced, but Larson found one round of .22 caliber rimfire ammunition on the floorboard. In a conversation later that day, Pavatt told Larson never to repeat that Appellant had asked him to kill Rob Andrew, and he threatened to kill Larson if she did. He also told her to throw away the .22 round she found in her car.
Police searched the home of Dean Gigstad, the Andrews' next-door neighbor, after the Gigstads reported finding suspicious things in their home. Police found evidence that someone had entered the Gigstads' attic through an opening in a bedroom closet. A spent 16 gauge shotgun shell was found on the bedroom floor, and several .22 caliber rounds were found in the attic itself. There were no signs of forced entry into the Gigstad home. Gigstad and his wife were out of town when the murder took place, but Appellant had a key to their home. The .22 caliber round found in Janna Larson's car was of the same brand as the three .22 caliber rounds found in the Gigstads' attic; the .22 caliber bullet fired at Appellant and retrieved from the Andrews' garage appeared consistent with bullets in these unfired rounds. These rounds were capable of being fired from the firearm that Pavatt purchased a few weeks before the murder; further testing was not possible because that gun was never found. The 16 gauge shotgun shell found in the Gigstads' home was of the same brand as the 16 gauge shell found in the Andrews' garage. Ballistics comparison showed similar markings, indicating that they could have been fired from the same weapon. Whether these shells were fired from the 16-gauge shotgun Rob Andrew had left at the home was impossible to confirm because, as noted, that gun remains missing.
Within days after the shooting, before Rob Andrew's funeral, Appellant, James Pavatt and the two minor children left the State and crossed the border into Mexico. They were apprehended while attempting to re-enter the United States in late February 2002.
Appellant and Pavatt met while attending the same church. At some point they began teaching a Sunday school class together. Appellant and Pavatt began having a sexual relationship.[3] Around the same time, Pavatt, a life insurance agent, assisted Rob Andrew in setting up a life insurance policy through Prudential worth approximately $800,000. In late September 2001, Rob Andrew moved out of the family home, and Appellant initiated divorce proceedings a short time later.
Janna Larson, Pavatt's adult daughter, testified that in late October, Pavatt told her that Appellant had asked him to murder Rob Andrew. On the night of October 25-26, 2001, someone cut the brake lines on Rob Andrew's automobile. The next morning, Pavatt persuaded his daughter to call Rob Andrew from an untraceable phone and claim that Appellant was at a hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, and needed him immediately. An unknown male also called Rob that morning and made the same plea. Rob Andrew's cell phone records showed that one call came from a pay phone in Norman (near Larson's workplace), and the other from a pay phone in south Oklahoma City. Rob Andrew discovered the tampering to his car before placing himself in any danger. He then notified the police. The next day, Appellant told Rob that she read in the newspaper that someone cut his brakes, but no media coverage of this event had occurred.
One contentious issue in the Andrews' relationship was control over the insurance policy on Rob Andrew's life. After his brake lines were cut, Rob Andrew inquired about removing Appellant as beneficiary of his life insurance policy. Rob Andrew spoke with Pavatt's supervisor about changing the beneficiary. He also related his suspicions that Pavatt and Appellant were trying to kill him. At trial, the State presented evidence that in the months preceding the murder, Appellant and Pavatt actually attempted to transfer ownership of the insurance policy to Appellant without Rob Andrew's knowledge, by forging his signature to a change-of-ownership form and backdating it to March 2001.[4]In the days following the murder, Pavatt obtained information over the Internet about Argentina, because he had heard that country had no extradition agreement with the United States. Larson also testified that after the murder, Appellant and Pavatt asked her to help them create a document, with the forged signature of Rob Andrew, granting permission for his children to travel with Appellant out of the country. Appellant also

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