Brinkley v. Houk

Decision Date05 December 2011
Docket NumberCase No. 4:06CV0110.
Citation866 F.Supp.2d 747
PartiesGrady BRINKLEY, Petitioner, v. Marc C. HOUK, Warden, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio


John P. Parker, Timothy F. Sweeney, Cleveland, OH, for Petitioner.

Holly E. Leclair, Thomas E. Madden, Office of the Attorney General—Capital Crimes Section, Columbus, OH, for Respondent.


JOHN R. ADAMS, District Judge.

Petitioner, Grady Brinkley (“Brinkley” or Petitioner), has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Petition”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF 15). He challenges his conviction and sentence for the aggravated murder of Shantae Smith that were imposed by the Lucas County, Ohio Common Pleas Court. Brinkley also asserts that the Ohio death penalty statutes, R.C. 2903.01 through 2929.05, are unconstitutional. Along with the Petition, the Court has reviewed the Respondent, Marc C. Houk's (Respondent), Return of Writ (ECF 47), the Petitioner's Traverse (ECF 53) and the Respondent's Sur-reply. (ECF 54). For the following reasons, Brinkley's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is denied.

I. Factual Background

Brinkley was indicted three times.1 The first indictment, July 7, 2000, included counts of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design, the offense committed while the offender was committing aggravated robbery and aggravated murder in the course of an aggravated robbery. The second indictment on August 14, 2000, added the aggravating circumstance of committing the crime for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, or punishment for another offense committed by the offender. The final indictment, which occurred on October 24, 2000, consisted of five counts: (1) aggravated robbery of the City Diner on November 6, 1999, with a firearm specification, in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1); (2) robbery of the City Diner, in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(2); (3) aggravated murder of Shantae Smith on January 7, 2000, in violation of R.C. 2903.01(A) (i.e., purposely causing death with prior calculation and design), and including the (A)(3) and (A)(7) aggravating circumstances; (4) aggravated murder of Shantae Smith on January 7, 2000, in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B) (i.e., felony murder), and including the (A)(3) and (A)(7) aggravating circumstances and; (5) aggravated robbery of Shantae Smith on January 7, 2000, in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(3).

Attorneys Timothy F. Braun and David L. Klucas were appointed to represent Brinkley on November 30, 1999. Apx. Vol. 1, pg. 19. On September 15, 2000, July 18, 2000 and August 4, 2000, Donald Cameron and Ronnie L. Wingate were appointed to represent Brinkley replacing Klucas and Braun. Apx. Vol. 1, pg. 43, Vol. 2, pgs. 16, 31. He entered a plea of not guilty on November 3, 2000. Tr. Vol. 1, pgs. 2, 3. On the same day, the State requested, and the trial court granted, dismissal of the first two indictments as well as the case related to the City Diner robbery. Apx. Vol. 1, pg. 47.2

Brinkley appeared in court on September 26, 2001. On that date the court set a trial date for January 9, 2002, a pretrial conference for October 4, 2001 and a suppression hearing for October 26, 2001. Tr. Vol. 4, pgs. 1–18. On January 16, 2002, the court denied Brinkley's Motion to Suppress. Apx. Vol. 4, pg. 198.

At a hearing on December 4, 2001, the court, granting Brinkley's Motion to Change the Trial Date, continued the trial until April 3, 2002. Tr. Vol. 4, pg. 3.

Another hearing was held on March 21, 2002 at which time Brinkley's counsel moved to withdraw. Tr. Vol. 4, pgs. 2–16. On March 27, 2002, the court replaced them with Merle Dech and John Thebes. Trial was reset for September 23, 2002. Tr. Vol. 4, pgs. 2–10.

On May 1, 2002, Brinkley filed a Motion for Relief from Prejudicial Joinder to sever the City Diner robbery charge which the court denied on September 5, 2002. Apx. Vol. 4, pg. 238, Tr. Vol. 4, pg. 16.

Trial commenced on September 18, 2002. Tr. Vol. 5–9, pgs. 2–1160. Opening statements began on September 24, 2002. Tr. Vol. 10, pg. 1178. Before the opening statements began, counsel for Brinkley again moved for severance of the City Diner robbery charges. The Motion was denied, but counsel was allowed a continuing objection as to each witness that would testify as to those charges. Tr. Vol. 9, pgs. 1162–63.

The facts as stated by the Ohio Supreme Court are as follows:

On November 6, 1999, Grady “Snoop” Brinkley, defendant-appellant, robbed Rick's City Diner in Toledo, and police pursued and arrested him that same afternoon. On December 17, 1999, Brinkley's girlfriend, Shantae Smith, posted bond for him, and he was released from pretrial confinement. On January 7, 2000, Brinkley killed Smith in her apartment by cutting her throat. Then he stole her ATM card and winter coat and fled to Chicago. On January 13, 2000, the FBI arrested Brinkley in Chicago. Thereafter, Brinkley was convicted of the aggravated robbery of the City Diner and the aggravated robbery and aggravated murder of Smith and was sentenced to death.

City Diner Robbery

In November 1999, Brinkley worked at Rick's City Diner on Monroe Street in Toledo. Though scheduled, Brinkley did not report for work on November 6, but he arrived at the diner at 1:00 p.m. and told the staff that he was waiting for the owner. At times, Brinkley waited inside the diner and joked with Marissa Brown, the hostess. At other times, he waited outside with Olivia Hunter, who had driven him to the diner. After the 2:00 p.m. closing time, Brown counted the money in the cash register, placed a bank deposit slip and the day's proceeds, $2,211, into a paper bag, and put the paper bag into her orange purse.

After Brown got into her car, Brinkley “came up with a [silver] gun and told [Brown] to give him the bag.” Brown “thought he was joking” and “slapped the gun out of [her] face.” In response, Brinkley “cocked the gun back and then punched [her] and told [her] he wasn't playing, so [she] gave him the bag.” Brinkley then demanded her orange purse and car keys and “told [her] to get out of [her] car and run.” Hunter confirmed that Brinkley had a small, “silver” handgun with him that day.

After Hunter and Brinkley drove off, Brown went back into the diner and told the cook, “Snoop robbed us.” The cook noticed that Brown's “mouth [was] full of blood” and she was all scared.” Toledo police were called and responded.

Hunter testified that after Brinkley got back into her car, he told her to drive him to the Greyhound bus station. He then changed his mind and directed Hunter to drive to a house on Junction Street. Once there, Brinkley introduced Hunter to his girlfriend, Shantae Smith, and gave the orange purse to an older man. Then Hunter drove Brinkley to an apartment complex in Toledo. Police later recovered the purse, which contained the City Diner bank-deposit slip, from a trash can behind that Junction Street house.

After talking with witnesses at the City Diner, police traced Hunter and Brinkley to the Toledo apartment complex and arrested them that afternoon. Police found $800 hidden in Brinkley's sock and recovered $400 from Hunter. However, police never recovered the balance of the City Diner receipts, approximately $1,011.

Events After the Robbery and Before the Murder

On December 3, 1999, Brinkley was arraigned on the City Diner robbery charge, and a bond of $20,000 was set. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for January 6, 2000, and Brinkley's trial was scheduled for January 18, 2000. Brinkley was confined in the county jail from November 6 until being released on bond on December 17, 1999. Brinkley's 18–year–old girlfriend, Smith, changed her life after Brinkley's arrest. She moved into an apartment on Collingwood, started a new job, and met new co-workers and friends, Lamont Pettaway and Valarie Vasquez. Smith told Vasquez that she wanted to “be free from” Brinkley, and she told Vasquez and Pettaway that she was afraid of Brinkley. Smith became romantically involved with Pettaway; they planned to live together and talked of marriage.

While in the county jail, Brinkley talked with fellow inmate Samuel Miller about the City Diner robbery. Brinkley told Miller that he had “waited on [Brown] to come out and stuck the pistol in her face and took the money from her.” Brinkley told Miller that “the gun was real.”

Brinkley told Miller that Brinkley's girlfriend, Smith, had visited him every week during most of November but less frequently after Thanksgiving. Brinkley also told Miller that Smith “was sleeping with [a co-worker] and riding back and forth to work with him, and she [Smith] wanted to know * * * was [Brinkley] going to do anything to her if she got him out on bond.” Brinkley told Miller that he played along with [Smith] so she can go ahead and pay the bond. * * * [But] when he got out he was going to hit a lick [i.e., get some cash],” and he “wasn't coming back to court * * * on the robbery charge.” Instead, he “was going back home, to Chicago.” Brinkley also said, “I'm going to kill that bitch [Smith] before I leave town.”

On December 17, 1999, Smith withdrew $2,000 from her Huntington Bank account and arranged with a bail bond company to post a $20,000 bond to secure Brinkley's release. Smith and Brinkley each personally guaranteed payment of $20,000 if Brinkley did not show up for future court appearances. Brinkley was released that day, and after his release, he stayed with Smith at her Collingwood apartment.

On January 6, 2000, at approximately 12:35 p.m., Smith withdrew $50 from her bank account using her Huntington Bank automatic teller machine (ATM) card. That day, Smith worked her normal shift of 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. In the early morning of January 7, Pettaway dropped her off at home after work. Smith never arrived at work that afternoon.

On January 6, 2000, Brinkley did not appear for his pretrial hearing on the City Diner robbery charge, and the trial court issued a...

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