Goins v. Angelone

Decision Date10 June 1999
Docket NumberNo. Civ.A. 97-1406-A.,Civ.A. 97-1406-A.
Citation52 F.Supp.2d 638
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
PartiesChristopher GOINS, Petitioner, v. Ronald G. ANGELONE, Director, Virginia Dept. of Corrections, Respondent.

Steven David Benjamin, Richmond, VA, Robert Stanley Powell, Arlington, VA, Frank Salvato, Alexandria, VA, for Christopher C. Goins, petitioner.

Katherine Pharis Baldwin, Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, VA, for Ronald Angelone, Director, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections, respondent.


ELLIS, District Judge.

Petitioner Christopher Goins was convicted of capital murder in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond on June 13, 1995. A month later, he was sentenced to death for this crime. His direct appeal and collateral attacks in state court having failed, Goins now petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal forum. The matter is before the Court on respondent's motion to dismiss, which, for the reasons set forth here, must be granted.

I. Facts1

Petitioner Christopher Goins and his friend Barry Scott arrived at the Richmond, Virginia, apartment of Tamika Jones and her family on the morning of October 14, 1994. That day, six other members of Tamika Jones' family were present in the apartment, including her parents, Daphne Jones and James Randolph, Jr., her nine-year-old sister Nicole, her four-year-old brother David, her three-year-old brother Robert, and her twenty-one-month-old sister Kenya. Goins and Scott were friends of the Jones family.

At that time, Tamika was fourteen years old and seven months pregnant with Goins' child. She had recently returned home from the hospital after receiving treatment for pregnancy-related complications. On the morning of the murders, Goins apparently became angry when Scott attempted to show Goins an ultrasound photograph of Tamika's fetus. Tamika testified at trial that she heard Goins in the other room saying, "Why you bringing it to me? I don't want to see it. Take it back."

Later that morning Tamika saw Goins briefly in the living room of the family apartment. While she was in her bedroom with her sister, Kenya, she heard him participating in a conversation in the kitchen and then heard rapid gunfire in the kitchen, followed by screams, crying, and the sound of a single set of footsteps in the hall. Tamika then heard more shots and saw "flashes in the hall." Immediately thereafter, she saw Goins appear in the doorway of her bedroom and proceed to shoot her nine times. He also shot her sister, Kenya, whom Tamika had attempted to shield with her body. As soon as Tamika thought Goins had left the apartment, she called 911 for assistance and told the 911 operator that Goins had shot her. When asked by the operator if anyone was with her, Tamika responded, "Yes, he shot them too."

The police arrived soon thereafter at the Jones' apartment, where they found that the entire family had been shot and only Tamika and Kenya had survived. Daphne had been shot four times, twice in the head, once in the left wrist, and once in the right leg. Both shots to the head were lethal. James Randolph, Jr., was shot nine times, twice in the head, three times in the left arm and chest, once in the abdomen, once in the right arm, once in the left leg, and once on the chin. Four of these wounds were lethal. Four-year-old David died as a result of a lethal gunshot wound to the head, apparently fired at close range. Daphne, James Randolph, Jr., and David were all found in the kitchen.

In a bedroom, police found the bodies of nine-year-old Nicole and three-year-old Robert. Nicole suffered two lethal gunshot wounds: one bullet passed through her heart and a lung and the other bullet was fired into her head at close range. Robert sustained two lethal gunshot wounds to his head.

Kenya sustained a wound measuring between two and three inches long through her left wrist. Tamika was shot three times in her abdomen, three times in her thighs, once in her right hand, once in her neck, and once in her left shoulder. Because multiple bullets had perforated her uterus, her right ovary, and a fallopian tube, Tamika's uterus and one ovary were removed. Her fetus was killed by a gunshot wound to its face.

In the apartment, the police found multiple .45 caliber cartridge casings, various bullets, and bullet jacket fragments. No weapon was found. A firearms identification expert testified at trial that all the recovered bullets, bullet jackets, and jacket fragments were ".45 auto caliber." He also concluded that the bullet jackets were ejected from a firearm constructed by a manufacturer that uses polygonal rifling. Glock, Inc., he stated, is the major manufacturer using this type of rifling in the design of its firearms. A second expert in firearms identification concluded, on the basis of the cartridge casings, that all the bullets used in the shootings were fired from the same .45 caliber Glock pistol.

Police searched the apartment of Monique Littlejohn, Goins' girlfriend, on two occasions. There they found an unfired .45 caliber cartridge that one of the firearms experts testified had been in the same weapon as the cartridge casings found at the crime scene. Also found in Littlejohn's apartment, lying on the floor next to some men's clothing, was an instruction manual for Glock pistols.

Parrish Davis, a cab driver who had known Goins for several months prior to the shootings, testified at trial that about one week before the murders, Goins told him that he was upset because Tamika had become pregnant. Davis stated that Goins told him he "wanted to do away with her and her family." Further, Davis revealed that he and Goins had occasionally discussed .45 caliber pistols. Significantly, Davis also testified that on October 14, 1994, the day of the murders, Goins asked Davis to drive him out of town concealed in the trunk of a friend's car, which Davis refused to do. Approximately a month after the shootings, Goins and Littlejohn were apprehended in New York.

II. Procedural History

At trial and during sentencing, Goins was represented by appointed counsel Robert Johnson and Susan Hansen. On June 13, 1995, a jury in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond convicted Goins of one charge of capital murder, four charges of first degree murder, two malicious wounding charges, and seven charges of illegal use of a firearm. In a separate sentencing proceeding, the jury recommended the imposition of the death sentence for the capital murder after finding that Goins' conduct was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman" and concluding that he represented a continuing serious threat to society. Va.Code § 19.2-264.2. For the noncapital offenses, the jury sentenced Goins to four life terms plus 78 years in prison. After considering the probation officer's report and conducting a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Goins to death in accordance with the jury's recommendation.

Still represented by Attorneys Johnson and Hansen, Goins appealed his convictions and sentences to the Supreme Court of Virginia. This appeal failed; the conviction and sentence were affirmed by published opinion on April 19, 1996. See Goins v. Commonwealth, 251 Va. 442, 470 S.E.2d 114, 132 (1996). The United States Supreme Court denied Goins' petition for a writ of certiorari on October 7, 1996. See Goins v. Virginia, 519 U.S. 887, 117 S.Ct. 222, 136 L.Ed.2d 154 (1996).

Represented by newly-appointed counsel, Goins then filed a 146-page petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia on December 6, 1996. The Supreme Court of Virginia directed Goins to refile the petition to conform to the fifty-page limit set by state rules, and Goins complied by filing an amended petition. On May 5, 1997, without conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the amended petition. See Goins v. Warden, No. 962477 (Va. May 5, 1997).

Thereafter, on August 14, 1997, the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond scheduled Goins' execution for September 15, 1997. On September 5, 1997, Goins filed a motion in this Court for a stay of execution and appointment of counsel to prepare a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This Court stayed execution and granted the motion for appointment of counsel on September 11, 1997, and on January 7, 1998, Goins moved for the appointment of experts and an investigator. The Court denied this motion, without prejudice to Goins' renewal of the motion should circumstances warrant following the filing of the habeas petition and the government's response. Goins then filed his 185-page petition on February 17, 1998, setting out thirty-six grounds for relief as follows:

I. The appointment of unqualified counsel deprived Goins of a fair trial and sentencing;

II. Goins received inadequate assistance of counsel stemming from counsel's inadequate pretrial investigation;

III. The trial court's decision to select the venire from Gloucester County denied Goins the right to an impartial jury and fair trial;

IV. The trial court failed to discharge its duty to select a fair and impartial jury;

V. The trial court improperly denied Goins the opportunity to mail a questionnaire to potential jury members;

VI. The trial court erred in denying additional peremptory challenges;

VII. The trial court improperly limited questions during voir dire;

VIII. The trial court improperly failed to remove three jurors;

IX. Prospective jurors were improperly dismissed for cause;

X. The trial court erred in not allowing Goins to question or educate jurors about parole during voir dire;

XI. The trial court denied fatigued counsel a recess;

XII. Trial counsel failed to provide Goins with effective assistance of counsel during jury voir dire;

XIII. The...

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