Crawford v. Moore, Case No. 3:14-cv-022

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
PartiesDAMON CRAWFORD, Petitioner, v. ERNIE MOORE, Warden, Lebanon Correctional Institution, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No. 3:14-cv-022
Decision Date27 January 2014

DAMON CRAWFORD, Petitioner,
v.
ERNIE MOORE, Warden, Lebanon Correctional Institution, Respondent.

Case No. 3:14-cv-022

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO WESTERN DIVISION AT DAYTON

January 27, 2014


District Judge Thomas M. Rose
Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This habeas corpus case is before the Court for initial review pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases which provides in pertinent part: "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner."

Petitioner Crawford pleads that he was convicted in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on a count of murder with a firearm specification (Petition, Doc. No. 1, PageID 23, ¶ 5). He was then sentenced to a term of imprisonment of eighteen years to life and seeks release from this term of imprisonment.

After sentencing, Crawford appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals which affirmed the conviction. State v. Crawford, 2012-Ohio-3595, 2012 Ohio App. LEXIS 3187 (Aug. 10, 2012). The Ohio Supreme Court declined jurisdiction over a subsequent appeal. State v. Crawford, 2013-Ohio-158 (2013).

Crawford pleads three grounds for relief:

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Ground One: The trial judge commited [sic] prejjudical [sic] error by failing to suppress statements that were illegally obtained.
Ground Two: The Ohio Constitution and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States [Constitution] require the [sic] every criminal conviction be supported by the appropriate amount and quality of evidence.
Ground Three: The prosecutor['s] closing arguments and disparaging comments served to deny appellant[']s due process and to vitiate the instant conviction.

(Petition, Doc. No. 1, PageID 27-30.)

The court of appeals described the background facts of the crime involved in this case:

[*P2] In the early morning of October 31, 1993, Ebony ("Punkin") Fisher was shot in the head while he was seated in a car in the parking lot of Spunky's bar. Several witnesses saw a man running away in the field adjacent to the bar's parking lot. Soon thereafter, Crawford was apprehended and arrested by Montgomery County deputy sheriffs and returned in a cruiser to Spunky's parking lot. Crawford was subsequently taken to the Jefferson Township police station and questioned by the Jefferson Township police about the shooting. After receiving Miranda warnings, Crawford invoked his right to counsel and to remain silent and was later released. No one was prosecuted for the murder at that time.
[*P3] In January 2008, Detective Brad Daugherty reopened the investigation of Fisher's Halloween 1993 murder. He spoke with the original witnesses as well as newly discovered witnesses and, in April 2009, after communicating with Crawford's parole officer, Daugherty questioned Crawford at the Adult Parole Authority's office. Crawford made incriminating statements during the interview.

State v. Crawford, 2012-Ohio-3595, ¶¶ 2-3, 2012 Ohio App. LEXIS 3187 (2nd Dist. 2012).

In the course of its opinion, the Second District decided on the merits all three claims which Crawford pleads in his Petition. When a state court decides on the merits a federal constitutional claim later presented to a federal habeas court, the federal court must defer to the

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state court decision unless that decision is contrary to or an objectively unreasonable application of clearly established precedent of the United States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 770, 785 (2011); Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 140 (2005); Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002); Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 379 (2000). Therefore the decision of the Second District Court of Appeals must be weighed against relevant Supreme Court case law.

Ground One: Failure to Suppress Statements Obtained in Violation of the Fifth Amendment

In his First Ground for Relief, Crawford asserts he was convicted on evidence obtained from him in violation of his privilege against self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment as applied to the State of Ohio by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Second District decided this claim as follows:

[*P7] In his first assignment of error, Crawford claims that the trial court erred in failing to suppress his statements to Detective Daugherty. [footnote omitted]
[*P8] In reviewing the ruling on a motion to suppress, an appellate court must accept the trial court's supported findings of fact as true. State v. Dudley, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 24904, 2012 Ohio 960,¶6. The court must then determine whether the facts satisfy the applicable legal standard; this is done without deference to the conclusion of the trial court. Id.
[*P9] At the suppression hearing, the State presented the testimony of Krista Burke and Jason Butler, both of the Adult Parole Authority ("APA"), and Detective Daugherty of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. Their testimony established the following facts.
[*P10] In November 2008, Burke became Crawford's parole officer after his release from prison on drug-related and weapon-related offenses. Burke initially met with Crawford at the

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Montgomery County Jail, at which time Burke reviewed with Crawford the conditions of his parole. These conditions included that Crawford refrain from using illegal drugs and alcohol, that he be subject to random urine screens, and that he agree to warrantless searches of his person, vehicle and residence by a supervising officer or other employee of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Crawford signed a form, acknowledging these conditions.
[*P11] On March 9, 2009, Crawford came into Burke's office for a scheduled meeting, including a drug test. After Crawford failed the drug screening, he began to yell that people were trying to kill him and "you're not listening to me and I'm asking for help here." Crawford made "erratic comments" that Burke did not understand. Burke had Crawford walk back to her office so that she could address his failure to comply with his drug treatment program. Along the way, she asked Butler, another parole officer who knew Crawford, to walk with them and to help calm down Crawford.
[*P12] Once in Burke's office, Crawford asked for protection due to his belief that he was being investigated for a murder and that people were trying to kill him. Crawford told the parole officers that he had been at a bar named Spunky's on Halloween in 1992 or 1993, that he was pulled over by the police as he was walking home, and that he thought he was going to prison. Crawford told the officers that he was "real high" that night and had fallen asleep in the police cruiser, and he woke up when the cruiser was at a murder scene. Crawford stated that he was taken to jail and questioned, but was later released. Crawford stated that people had been trying to kill him since that time. Crawford also told Burke that he was taking notes and writing the story of his life, and he wanted to show the notes to her. Burke and Butler had not previously heard about the murder; when Crawford left, Burke told him to talk to her supervisor the following day.
[*P13] The following day, Crawford returned with his notebook and spoke with Burke, Burke's supervisor, and Butler. Butler made a copy of the notebook and returned the original to Crawford. After Crawford left, Burke contacted the Sheriff's Office to look into Crawford's claims. The following day, she spoke with Detective Daugherty, who informed her that he was investigating a cold case murder at Spunky's and that he had been interviewing people about the crime. Daugherty speculated that Crawford may have heard about the investigation.

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[*P14] In mid-April 2009, Crawford was reassigned to Butler. On the morning of April 27, Detective Daugherty contacted Butler and told him that a confidential informant stated that there were weapons and drugs in Crawford's residence. Daugherty also told Butler that Crawford was a suspect in Fisher's murder and that he wanted to speak with Crawford. Daugherty and Butler planned to go together to Crawford's apartment that afternoon.
[*P15] By coincidence, Crawford came unexpectedly to Butler's office later that morning, and he asked Butler to copy a journal that he (Crawford) had. Crawford talked about needing protection. Butler contacted Daugherty and told the detective that Crawford was at the parole office. Daugherty stated that he would be there in five to ten minutes. Before the detective arrived, Butler asked Crawford, "Would you be willing to talk to the detectives without a lawyer present?" Crawford responded, "Yes. I want to get my story out there and I want to let them know what's going on with me." Butler explained to Crawford that he was not under arrest at that point; Butler did not inform Crawford of his Miranda rights.
[*P16] Daugherty and another detective, both in plain clothes, arrived within a few minutes. At Butler's suggestion, they moved to a small conference room, which was also located in a secure area of the office. Daugherty testified that he advised Crawford that he was not under arrest, and Crawford went back and forth about wanting a lawyer.
[*P17] Without Crawford's knowledge, Daugherty audio-recorded the interview. The trial court described
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