Jefferson v. Terry, Civil Action No. 1:96-CV-0989-CC.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
Citation490 F.Supp.2d 1261
Decision Date10 May 2007
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 1:96-CV-0989-CC.
PartiesLawrence JEFFERSON, Petitioner, v. William TERRY,<SMALL><SUP>1</SUP></SMALL> Respondent.

Jeffrey Lyn Ertel, Suzanne Hashimi, Federal Defender Program, John Richard Martin, Martin Brothers, Atlanta, GA, for Petitioner.

Michael J. Bowers, Balch & Bingham LLP, Paula K. Smith, Susan Virginia Boleyn, Office of State Attorney General, Atlanta, GA, for Respondent.


COOPER, District Judge.

Lawrence Jefferson, a Georgia prisoner who was convicted of the felony murder and armed robbery of Edward Taulbee and sentenced to death, petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth herein, the Corrected Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody is hereby granted in part and denied in part.


On August 8, 1985, Petitioner Lawrence Jefferson ("Petitioner" or "Jefferson") was indicted in the Superior Court of Cobb County, Georgia, for the offenses of malice murder and armed robbery. (Respondent's Ex. ("R.Ex.") 1 at 3-5.) Petitioner was tried before a jury on February 24 through March 9, 1986, and was found guilty of committing the offenses of armed robbery and felony murder in the commission of an armed robbery. (R. Ex. 2 at 327.) During the sentencing phase of the bifurcated trial, the jury sentenced Jefferson to death, after finding the existence of two statutory aggravating, circumstances. (Id. at 328.)

The evidence presented at Jefferson's trial revealed the following facts: Jefferson and the victim, Edward Taulbee, were both employed by the Zenith Construction Company. (R. Ex. 21 at 320.) Taulbee was Jefferson's immediate supervisor. (Id. at 321.) Some time after Taulbee purchased an automobile, Taulbee would take Jefferson home, and Taulbee would sometimes bring Jefferson to work in the morning. (Id.)

On the day that Taulbee was murdered, May 1, 1985, the employees at Zenith Construction Company got paid. (Id. at 325.) Brad Stewart, the construction superintendent at Zenith, personally distributed the paychecks to the employees, and he testified that both Taulbee and Jefferson were paid on that day. (Id. at 326.) Stewart also testified that he had assigned Taulbee and Jefferson to a specific work task that afternoon. (Id. at 324.) Stewart left the job site at about 4:00 p.m. (Id. at 324-25.) When Stewart left, he saw Taulbee and Jefferson working together. (Id. at 325.) Stewart did not know when Taulbee and Jefferson left the job site. (Id.)

Taulbee was killed some time after he left work on May 1, 1985. His body, which was lying in the woods off of Highway 41 in Cobb County, was spotted by two construction inspectors from Cobb County who were passing by in an automobile the next morning. (R. Ex. 20 at 216-17, 226-27.) The two inspectors then notified the Cobb County Police, who immediately went to the crime scene and preserved the area. (Id. at 218, 234-35, 238-39.)

Taulbee's body was found face down in kudzu, and Taulbee was dressed in a yellow shirt, overalls, and boots. (Id. at 235-36.) The body was wet and some "lividity" remained in one of his hands. (Id.) A large log was laying across Taulbee's head, and the log had blood on it. (Id. at 220, 235; R. Ex. 21 at 268.) The police also found near Taulbee's body two sticks or clubs, and one of the sticks appeared to have been shattered in several places. (R. Ex. 21 at 270-71.) On the stick was some blood and hair. (Id.) The police observed that Taulbee's head had been driven into the ground, apparently by the log. (Id. at 268-74.) No wallet was found on Taulbee's body. (Id. at p. 277.) However, the authorities did find on Taulbee a still-ticking Timex watch, a pocket knife, and a small amount of cash. (R. Ex. 23 at 820-21, 840.)

Cobb County Police Lt. Carlton Morris was sent to investigate the body further following its removal to the county Medical Examiner's office. (R. Ex. 21 at 357.) He and the medical examiner found in Taulbee's belongings a pay stub from Zenith Construction Company. (Id.) Morris telephoned Zenith Construction Company and ascertained that the pay stub number corresponded to Taulbee. (Id. at 358.) Morris then talked to Stewart, who informed Morris that Jefferson worked with Taulbee. (Id.) Morris requested that Stewart and Jefferson come down to police headquarters to identify the victim. (Id.) Both Stewart and Jefferson identified Taulbee from the pictures of the body that Morris showed them. (Id. at 374-75.)

During Morris' interview of Jefferson, Jefferson informed Morris that he was originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and that he worked at Zenith with Taulbee. (Id. at 375-76.) He also told Morris that he had been down in Georgia for about six months and that he had worked with and had known Taulbee about that long. (Id. at 376.) With respect to the day of the murder, Jefferson told Morris that he had seen Taulbee leave the Zenith construction site alone around 5:30 p.m. and head north in his automobile to go fishing. (Id. at 376-78.) Jefferson stated that he knew Taulbee was going fishing because Taulbee, around 3:00 p.m. that day, had dug up some worms in order to use them for fishing at Lake Allatoona. (Id. at 376.) Jefferson also told Morris that he did not go fishing with Taulbee because "he didn't have the patience to fish." (Id. at 377.) Jefferson stated that when Taulbee left the Zenith construction site, he got on his bicycle and rode home. (Id. at 378.) Jefferson, who lived alone, stated that he watched television, drank beer, and stayed home that afternoon and night. (Id. at 378-79.)

Jefferson told the police that Taulbee had loaned him $120 and that it was due on Thursday, May 2, 1985. (Id. at 380.) He further stated that he had not paid Taulbee but that he had not gotten his paycheck from Stewart at lunch on payday, the day of the killing. (Id.) Stewart informed Morris that Taulbee and Jefferson had never had any money problems. (Id. at 383.)

During the course of the interview, Jefferson became more nervous. (Id. at 381.) Nevertheless, Jefferson consented to a search of his apartment. (Id. at 381, 386.) Jefferson cooperated with the police, and this included opening drawers and closet doors while the police searched the apartment. (Id. at 385, 388.) Morris did not find anything connecting Jefferson to the murder of Taulbee. (Id. at 388-90.) Morris also did not find any signs of struggle on Jefferson. (Id. at 389.)

Rhonda Glade, one of Jefferson's neighbors, testified that she saw Jefferson, Taulbee, and Dwayne Mitchell, one of her roommates, talking outside of Jefferson's apartment at approximately 4:15 p.m. on the day of Taulbee's murder. (Id. at 395, 398-400.) She testified that she had seen Jefferson and Taulbee leave from Jefferson's apartment to go fishing. (Id. at 401-03.) Rhonda Glade also testified that later on the night of the killing she saw Jefferson return to his apartment on foot and heard no car arrive.2 (Id. at 408.) Ms Glade further testified that Jefferson came to her apartment on May 2, 1985, and gave her an automated teller bank card (referred to herein as an "ATM card") and asked her to get rid of the card. (Id. at 412.) Jefferson also gave her a fishing tackle box. (Id.)

Ronald Glade, Rhonda Glade's brother and another neighbor of Jefferson's, testified that on May 1, 1985, he had gone to Jefferson's apartment around 6:00 p.m. (Id. at 452-53.) He testified that Jefferson had locked the door to his apartment, although Jefferson was inside, which Ronald stated was unusual. (Id. at 453-54.) Ronald Glade further testified that Jefferson was acting funny and that his chest appeared to be red. (Id. at 456, 459.) He testified that Jefferson had, prior to the murder of Taulbee, made a statement about hitting his boss on the head and that, after the murder, had informed him that his "little fat buddy was dead." (Id. at 463-64.) Ronald Glade further testified that on the evening of May 1, 1985, Jefferson stated he had lost his wallet and went out with Dwayne Mitchell to look for it, although Ronald later found the wallet in Jefferson's apartment with approximately $100.00 in cash in the wallet. (Id. at 465-67.)

Dwayne Mitchell testified that he took Jefferson to buy marijuana and liquor on the night of May 1, 1985. (Id. at 500.) He further testified that Jefferson asked him to drive him to Lake Allatoona the night of the murder to find his wallet, which Jefferson claimed was missing. (Id. at 500-01.) Mitchell stated that when they arrived at Lake Allatoona, Jefferson left the car for 5 to 10 minutes and returned with a fishing pole and a tackle box. (Id. at 502, 504-05.) According to Mitchell, Jefferson discarded the fishing pole and gave the tackle box to him. (Id. at 505-06.) Mitchell further testified that, on the way back from the lake, Jefferson asked him to take him to a bank with an automated teller machine, where Jefferson disguised himself with a straw hat and sunglasses and attempted unsuccessfully to make a cash withdrawal. (Id. at 506-07.) Prior to going to the automated teller, Jefferson asked Mitchell if the automated teller machine took pictures of those people who used the machines. (Id. at 507.)

On May 7, 1985, Taulbee's car was located in the parking lot of a food store in Cobb County. (R. Ex. 22 at 586.) The parking lot where the car was located was close to Jefferson's residence. (Id. at 589.) The authorities also found the keys to the car inside the automobile. (Id. at 591.) Also found in the glove compartment of the car was a twenty-four hour automatic teller transaction receipt, and the authorities determined that the receipt was dated May 2, 1985, at...

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