Bullock v. Lucas

Decision Date21 September 1984
Docket NumberNo. 83-4702,83-4702
Citation743 F.2d 244
PartiesCrawford BULLOCK, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant, v. Eddie LUCAS, Warden, and State of Mississippi, Respondents-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Shearman & Sterling, Joseph T. McLaughlin, Henry Weisburg, New York City, for petitioner-appellant.

Bill Allain, Atty. Gen., William S. Boyd, III, Marvin L. White, Asst. Attys. Gen., Jackson, Miss., for respondents-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before POLITZ, WILLIAMS and GARWOOD, Circuit Judges. *

POLITZ, Circuit Judge:

Informed by the teachings of Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782, 102 S.Ct. 3368, 73 L.Ed.2d 1140 (1982), and guided by, inter alia, our recent decision in Reddix v. Thigpen, 728 F.2d 705 (5th Cir.), reh'g denied, 732 F.2d 494 (5th Cir.1984), we direct issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, to the end that Crawford Bullock, Jr. be sentenced to life imprisonment or accorded a sentencing hearing consistent herewith.

Contextual Background

Crawford Bullock, Jr., was found guilty of the offense of capital murder, in a felony-murder setting, by a Mississippi state court jury and sentenced to death by lethal gas. His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Bullock v. State, 391 So.2d 601 (Miss.1980), cert. denied, 452 U.S. 931, 101 S.Ct. 3068, 69 L.Ed.2d 432 (1981). The Mississippi high court subsequently rejected Bullock's application for leave to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis.

With state remedies exhausted, Bullock sought Great Writ relief, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254, alleging that his death sentence was prohibited by the eighth and fourteenth amendments, as explicated in Enmund, because he neither killed, attempted to kill, intended the death of the robbery victim, nor contemplated the use of lethal force. After a trial by consent before a magistrate, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 636(c), Bullock's petition was denied. Judgment was entered by the district court. Bullock appeals, urging the foregoing constitutional argument. He further urged a due process deprivation based on the assertion that the Mississippi Supreme Court failed to make an appropriate proportionality review. In light of the intervening decision in Pulley v. Harris, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 871, 79 L.Ed.2d 29 (1984), that assignment of error is abandoned. We address only the Enmund -based contention.


The events leading to the brutal homicide which is at the core of this case began in the evening hours of September 21, 1978, when Bullock, with one leg encased in a cast, and Ricky Tucker repaired to the Town Creek Saloon in Jackson, Mississippi for a night of drinking. Sometime after midnight they left the tavern accepting a ride from Mark Dickson because their driver had left earlier. On the way to Tucker's house Bullock asked Dickson to stop at a convenience store so he could buy a loaf of bread. Dickson gave Bullock money for the purchase. The store had no bread, Bullock returned Dickson's money and the drive resumed.

As the three men continued the journey towards Tucker's place, they drank heavily from a bottle of whiskey. At some point Bullock asked Dickson to stop the car so he could answer a call of nature. Upon returning to the vehicle, Bullock heard Tucker and Dickson arguing and heard Tucker say, "Don't make me pull this gun." Apparently Dickson was indebted to Tucker for illicit drugs and after insisting he had no money offered Tucker his auto in payment. Bullock reentered the vehicle and both the argument and the trip resumed with Dickson driving. Dickson finally stopped the car near a construction site and he and Tucker exchanged blows. At Tucker's importuning, Bullock grabbed Dickson but Dickson broke away and ran from the car with Tucker in pursuit wielding the whiskey bottle. Bullock, slowed down by his cast, trailed behind. Tucker tackled Dickson and when Bullock reached them the two were fighting. Bullock grabbed for Dickson and was holding him by the head when Tucker struck Dickson on the head with the whiskey bottle. The blow broke the bones in Bullock's hand and cut it. Tucker struck Dickson with his fists until Dickson fell to the ground, then kicked him in the head. Tucker continued the assault by smashing Dickson in the head with a concrete block over and over until Dickson died.

Tucker suggested that they burn Dickson's body and car; Bullock countered by suggesting that they dispose of Dickson's body in a nearby lake. The latter course was followed and Dickson's body was loaded in the car. Tucker took Dickson's wallet but threw it away when he saw it contained no money. Tucker and Bullock then drove to a carwash and cleaned the blood from the car's exterior. Thereafter, they drove to Bullock's house, secured a garden hose and then motored to a lake near Byram, Mississippi. At the lake, they removed Dickson's outer clothing, placed concrete blocks inside his underclothes, wrapped the hose around his body and submerged the body in the lake. Tucker pulled the body into the lake, Bullock followed and helped press it into the lake's bottom.

Tucker and Bullock were apprehended and indicted for the capital offense of robbery-murder in violation of Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 97-3-19(2)(e), based on the death of Dickson in connection with the felonious taking of Dickson's auto and wallet. The two miscreants were tried separately. Tucker was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Bullock, as noted, was convicted and sentenced to death.


In Enmund, the Supreme Court held that the eighth amendment forbids "imposition of the death penalty on one ... who aids and abets a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed." 458 U.S. at 797, 102 S.Ct. at 3376-77. The Court further emphasized that "[t]he focus must be on [the particular defendant's] culpability, not on that of those who committed the robbery and shot the victims, for we insist on 'individualized consideration as a constitutional requirement in imposing the death sentence,' " (citations omitted). 458 U.S. at 798, 102 S.Ct. at 3377. See Smith v. Oklahoma, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 324, 78 L.Ed.2d 297 (1983) (vacating a death sentence and remanding for further consideration in light of Enmund ); Skillern v. Estelle, 720 F.2d 839 (5th Cir.1983). In Reddix we sought to capsulate these directives by observing, "Enmund recognizes that the death penalty is unique in its severity and its irrevocability; consequently, before the state may impose it, the state must focus on the personal intent and culpability of the defendant himself, and not merely that of an accomplice." 728 F.2d at 708. Accordingly, while the trier of fact may impute intent to an aider and abettor for the purpose of determining guilt, that imputation may not be done for the purpose of imposing the death penalty. Reddix; Skillern.

Bullock contends that his death sentence is constitutionally infirm under Enmund because the instructions to the jury permitted the death sentence without a specific finding that Bullock either killed, attempted to kill, or intended a killing or the use of lethal force. Such was the argument proffered in Reddix. We were persuaded in Reddix; we are likewise now so persuaded.

Bullock was convicted under Mississippi's capital murder statute which provides in pertinent part:

The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder ...

When done with or without any design to effect death, by any person engaged in the commission of the crime of ... robbery ... or in any...

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