Fullwood v. Lee, 01-13.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Citation290 F.3d 663
Docket NumberNo. 01-13.,01-13.
PartiesMichael Lee FULLWOOD, Petitioner-Appellant, v. R.C. LEE, Warden of Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date21 May 2002
290 F.3d 663
Michael Lee FULLWOOD, Petitioner-Appellant,
R.C. LEE, Warden of Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 01-13.
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.
Argued January 22, 2002.
Decided May 21, 2002.

Page 664


Page 665


Page 666


Page 667


Page 668


Page 669


Page 670

ARGUED: Kenneth Justin Rose, Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Inc., Durham, North Carolina, for Petitioner-Appellant. Teresa Harris Pell, Special Deputy Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Respondent-Appellee. ON BRIEF: Stephen P. Lindsay, Cloninger, Lindsay, Hensley, Searson & Arcuri, P.L.L.C., Asheville, North Carolina, for Petitioner-Appellant. Roy Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina, North Carolina, Department of Justice, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before WIDENER, MICHAEL, and TRAXLER, Circuit Judges.

Page 671

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, dismissed in part, and remanded by published opinion. Judge TRAXLER wrote the majority opinion, in which Judge MICHAEL joined. Judge WIDENER wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.


TRAXLER, Circuit Judge.

A North Carolina state court sentenced Michael Lee Fullwood to die for the murder of Deidre Waters. Fullwood appeals an order of the district court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254 (West 1994 & Supp. 2001).1 Fullwood raises a number of claims, but his primary contention is that he was deprived of a fair trial because the jury was subjected to improper third party communications and the jury considered prejudicial factual information that was not in evidence. With respect to his Sixth Amendment claim based on the alleged improper jury contact and improper consideration of facts not in evidence, we conclude that Fullwood "has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C.A. § 2253(c)(2) (West Supp.2001). We grant his application for a certificate of appealability on those issues, and we reverse the decision of the district court only to the extent that the district court denied Fullwood's request for an evidentiary hearing as to whether one of the jurors was improperly influenced by her husband and whether the jury improperly learned that Fullwood had already been sentenced to death for this murder in a previous capital sentencing proceeding, so as to deny Fullwood a fair trial. We affirm the remainder of the district court's disposition of that claim. With respect to the other claims, we conclude that the state court's refusal to grant relief was neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as decided by the Supreme Court. We deny Fullwood's application for a certificate of appealability with respect to his other claims and dismiss them. Accordingly, we affirm in part, reverse in part, dismiss in part and remand.


Fullwood and Deidre Waters were romantically involved for three and one-half years, and Fullwood was the father of Deidre's child Michelle. In March 1985, the relationship between Fullwood and Deidre became strained, and Fullwood eventually began threatening to kill Deidre.

On March 29, 1985, Deidre went to the home of Michael and Camille Hawks where Deidre was employed as a day care worker. The North Carolina Supreme Court summarized the events which occurred next and the evidence introduced during the guilt phase of trial as follows:

At 8:20 a.m. Ms. Mills [Deidre's mother] dropped Deidre off at the Hawks' residence. While Ms. Hawks was still at home, Deidre received calls from defendant's mother and from defendant. Deidre told defendant's mother that she had taken out the warrant because she was tired of defendant threatening to cut her head off and to cut her heart out. Ms. Hawks left her home around 8:30 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m. Robin Ferrell arrived at the Hawks' home to leave her child at the day care center. She went to the front door, found the door locked, and

Page 672

began knocking. When there was no answer, she went to the front window. The window was broken. She saw blood in the house and heard the children crying. Ms. Ferrell phoned Mr. Hawks from a neighbor's house; she then returned to the Hawks' home, coaxed the children to the window, and lifted them out. The children told her that Deidre was sleeping on the floor and that a man was sleeping on the floor with her.

When Mr. Hawks arrived, he and Ms. Ferrell went into the house. They found Deidre on the living room floor with her head against the base of the couch. She had no pulse and her eyes were open, dilated and glassy. Her neck was "severely cut," and her chest was "completely covered with blood." Defendant lay across her legs with his head near her lap. When Mr. Hawks pulled defendant off Deidre, defendant moaned and moved around. Mr. Hawks moved a knife, which was near defendant, to the foyer. He and Ms. Ferrell went outside to wait for the police.

At 10:00 a.m. medical personnel arrived and attempted to give first aid to defendant, who had a wound in his stomach and wounds on his neck and arms. Defendant fought with them. When they got him on the stretcher, he said, "Don't stab me anymore, don't stab me anymore." The paramedic who put defendant in the ambulance expressed the opinion that defendant was not in shock at that time.

Sergeant Ted Lambert and Detective Walt Roberson of the Asheville Police Department arrived at the scene at 10:10 a.m. Sergeant Lambert noticed the broken window and blood on the floor in the foyer. They found the bloody knife which Mr. Hawks had moved lying in the foyer. Deidre was lying on the living room floor with blood on her clothing, underneath her and throughout the living room. The paramedics were treating defendant. They found blood in the sitting room, on the outside of the first floor bathroom door and on the walls, mirror and commode in the bathroom. The bathroom door appeared to have been forced open. In the dining room they found defendant's grey jacket, pieces of the broken window glass, and the plastic from the window covering. The cord of the dining room telephone had been pulled from the jack, and the receiver lay on the floor. There was blood on the jacket, the window glass and plastic, the phone receiver, the walls and the floor.

In the kitchen they found blood on the floor, the counter, and the refrigerator. A bloody butcher knife with defendant's palm print on it lay on the kitchen counter, and a steak knife with traces of blood on it lay under the high chair. There was also blood on the stairway and on the upstairs phone.

Lieutenant William Gibson of the Asheville Police Department took blood scrapings from many areas in the house. The tests revealed that the blood on the butcher knife was consistent with that of defendant and Deidre, the blood on the knife in the foyer was defendant's, and the steak knife did not have enough blood on it that the source of the blood could be traced. The blood throughout the house was consistent with that of either defendant or Deidre.

The autopsy on Deidre's body disclosed twenty-four significant wounds, most of which were slash wounds. Two of the wounds were capable of causing death: a deep slashing wound on her neck which cut her carotid artery, and a penetrating wound on her anterior chest which went into her right lung. Dr. George Lacy, the pathologist, testified that Deidre could have survived from

Page 673

fifteen to forty-five minutes after receiving the fatal wounds. The Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Page Hudson, testified that, in his opinion, she died within a few minutes after receiving these wounds.

Dr. Frank Edwards, an emergency room doctor, testified that defendant was in shock when he was admitted to the hospital. Dr. Joseph Noto, the surgeon who treated defendant, testified that defendant had a series of parallel superficial cuts on his wrists and neck. He had a stab wound in his abdomen. Dr. Noto opined that because the wounds were straight and precise, the neck, wrist and abdomen wounds were all self-inflicted. Dr. Hudson agreed that the wrist and neck wounds were self-inflicted and said that it was "more likely than not" that the abdominal wound was self-inflicted, although "it could have been inflicted by someone else."

Grover Matthews, a police detective, testified that while defendant was in the emergency room he said that his girl-friend had stabbed him. The trial court did not allow this statement into evidence.

From the circumstantial evidence, the State developed the theory that defendant broke the dining room window and came into the house. Deidre, who was trying to phone for help, tried to keep him out. Defendant went to the kitchen and got the butcher knife. Deidre ran to the bathroom and locked herself in, but defendant forced the door open and began stabbing her. She managed to get away and ran into the living room, where he caught her and inflicted the fatal wounds. He then selected a smaller knife from the kitchen and inflicted wounds upon himself.

The defense conceded that defendant had killed Deidre and asked for a verdict of guilty of second degree murder. Defense counsel argued that defendant was in an emotional turmoil, was stabbed in the stomach by Deidre, and did not premeditate or deliberate regarding the killing. Defense counsel presented several character witnesses for defendant. A clinical correctional psychologist testified to defendant's low IQ and opined that defendant's relationships with Deidre and Michelle were "the foundation of his life" and that he could not deal with his perception that Deidre was leaving him and taking Michelle with her.

State v. Fullwood, 323 N.C. 371, 373 S.E.2d 518, 522-24 (N.C.1988) ("Fullwood I"), vacated,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
157 cases
  • Juniper v. Hamilton, Civil Action No. 3:11cv746
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • March 29, 2021
    ...for Evans to be involved in Mings’ probation violations, the prosecution cannot have suppressed that information.See Fullwood v. Lee , 290 F.3d 663, 686 (4th Cir. 2002) ("[I]nformation that is not merely available to the defendant but is actually known by the defendant ... fall[s] outside o......
  • United States v. Bryant, Criminal Case No. 3:04cr00047-1
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • January 31, 2013
    ...States v. Nicholson, 475 F.3d 241, 249 (4th Cir. 2007) (citing Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 349-50 (1980)); see also Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 689 (4th Cir. 2002). If the petitioner establishes both actual conflict of interest and an adverse effect on counsel's performance from th......
  • Atkins v. Polk, CIVIL CASE NO. 1:06cv372
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • August 16, 2011
    ...for any reason it appears that the state trier of fact did not afford the habeas applicant a full and fair fact hearing.Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 681 n.7 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks omitted). 16.Because the Court concludes that Petitioner has failed to allege additional f......
  • Fowler v. Branker, CIVIL CASE NO. 3:09cv51
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • March 26, 2013
    ...of the Brady doctrine.'" Id. at 975 (quoting United States v. Wilson, 901 F.2d 378, 381 (4th Cir. 1990)); see also Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 686 (4th Cir. 2002) (Brady "does not compel the disclosure of evidence available to the defendant from other sources, including diligent investig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Harrington's wake: unanswered questions on AEDPA's application to summary dispositions.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 64 No. 2, February 2012
    • February 1, 2012
    ...this case, state habeas relief is denied without an opinion."); Chadwick v. Janecka, 312 F.3d 597, 605-06 (3d Cir. 2002); Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 677 (4th Cir. 2002) ("When the state court decision being reviewed by a federal habeas court fails to provide any rationale for its decisi......
  • Sentencing
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal No. 110-Annual Review, August 2022
    • August 1, 2022
    ...be capable of understanding.” Id. (quoting Jurek v. Tex., 428 U.S. 262, 279 (1976) (White, J., concurring)); see, e.g. , Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 694 (4th Cir. 2002) (North Carolina statutory aggravating circumstance of “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel” conduct unconstitutiona......
  • Trials
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal No. 110-Annual Review, August 2022
    • August 1, 2022
    ...did not merit reversal because defendant did not show counsel failed to pursue any plausible alternative defenses); Fullwood v. Lee, 290 F.3d 663, 690-91 (4th Cir. 2002) (trial court’s failure to conduct evidentiary hearing on potential conf‌lict of interest did not merit reversal because c......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT