Jones v. Trammell, Case No. CIV-07-1290-D

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Western District of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtTIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI
PartiesJULIUS JONES, Petitioner, v. ANITA TRAMMELL, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No. CIV-07-1290-D
Decision Date22 May 2013

JULIUS JONES, Petitioner,
ANITA TRAMMELL, Warden,1 Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.

Case No. CIV-07-1290-D


SO ORDERED: May 22, 2013


Petitioner, a state prisoner currently facing execution of a sentence of death, appears with counsel and petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his convictions in the District Court of Oklahoma County, Case No. CF-1999-4373, of one count of first-degree felony murder, one count of felonious possession of a firearm, and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony. Respondent has responded to Petitioner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (hereinafter "Petition"),2 and Petitioner has replied. The State court record has been supplied.3

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Petitioner was convicted by a jury in the District Court of Oklahoma County, State of Oklahoma, Case No. CF-1999-4373, of one count of first-degree felony murder for the death of Paul Howell, one count of felonious possession of a firearm, and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony. For the crime of first-degree felony murder, the jury recommended the imposition of a sentence of death, finding the existence of two aggravating circumstances: (1) that the defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person; and (2) that there exists the probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society. Petitioner was also sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment on the felonious possession of a firearm count and twenty-five years imprisonment on the conspiracy count.

Petitioner appealed his convictions and his sentences to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (hereinafter "OCCA"). The OCCA affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence of death in a published opinion dated January 27, 2006. Jones v. State, 128 P.3d 521 (Okla. Crim. App. 2006). The OCCA granted Petitioner's petition for rehearing, but denied recall of the mandate. Jones v. State, 132 P.3d 1 (Okla. Crim. App. 2006). Certiorari was denied on October 10, 2006. Jones v. Oklahoma, 127 S.Ct. 404 (2006). Petitioner filed an Application for Post-Conviction Relief which was denied by the OCCA in an unpublished opinion. Jones v. State, No. PCD-2002-630 (Okla. Crim. App. Nov. 5, 2007).


Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e), when a federal district court addresses "an application for

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a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). For the purposes of consideration of the present Petition, the Court provides and relies upon the following synopsis from the OCCA's opinion summarizing the evidence presented at Petitioner's trial. Following review of the record, trial transcripts, and the admitted exhibits, the Court finds this summary by the OCCA to be adequate and accurate. The Court therefore adopts the following summary of the facts as its own:

On Wednesday, July 28, 1999, Paul Howell was fatally shot in the driveway of his parents' Edmond home. Howell, his sister, Megan Tobey, and Howell's two young daughters had just returned from a shopping trip in Howell's Chevrolet Suburban. Howell pulled into the driveway and turned the engine off. As Tobey exited from the front passenger side, she heard a gunshot. Tobey turned to see her brother slumped over the driver's seat, and a young black male, wearing a white T-shirt, a stocking cap on his head, and bandana over his face, demanding the keys to the vehicle. Tobey rushed to get herself and Howell's daughters out of the Suburban. As Tobey escorted the girls through the carport, she heard someone yelling at her to stop, and then another gunshot. Tobey got the girls inside and summoned for help. Howell's parents ran outside to find their son lying on the driveway. His vehicle was gone. Howell died a few hours later from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Two days after the shooting, Oklahoma City police found Howell's Suburban parked near a convenience store on the south side of town. Detectives canvassed the neighborhood and spoke with Kermit Lottie, who owned a local garage. Lottie told detectives that Ladell King, and another man he did not know, had tried to sell the vehicle to him the day before. Lottie realized at the time that the vehicle matched the description given in news reports about the Howell carjacking. Ladell King, in turn, told police that he had agreed to help Christopher Jordan and Jones find a buyer for a stolen vehicle. On the night of the shooting, Jordan came to King's apartment driving a Cutlass; Jones arrived a short time later, wearing a white T-shirt, a black stocking cap, and a red bandana, and driving the Suburban. King told police that Jones could be found at his parents' Oklahoma City home.

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Police then drove to Jones's parents' home, called a telephone number supplied by King, and spoke to someone who identified himself as Julius Jones. Jones initially agreed to come out and speak to police, but changed his mind. Police made several attempts to re-establish telephone contact; eventually a female answered and claimed Jones was not there. While some officers maintained surveillance at the home, others sought and obtained warrants to arrest Jones and search his parents' home for evidence. Police found a .25-caliber handgun, wrapped in a red bandana, secreted in the attic through a hole in a bedroom ceiling and found papers addressed to Jones in the bedroom. Police also found a loaded, .25-caliber magazine, hidden inside a wall-mounted door-chime housing. Further investigation revealed that the bullet removed from Howell's head, and a bullet shot into the dashboard of the Suburban, were fired from the handgun found in the attic of the Jones home.
Christopher Jordan was arrested on the evening of July 30. Jones, who managed to escape his parents' home before police had secured it, was arrested at a friend's apartment on the morning of July 31. The two men were charged conjointly with conspiracy to commit a felony, and with the murder of Howell. Jordan agreed to testify against Jones as part of a plea agreement. At trial, Jordan testified that the two men had planned to steal a Chevrolet Suburban and sell it; that they followed Howell's vehicle for some time with the intent to rob Howell of it; that once Howell pulled into the driveway, Jordan stayed in their vehicle while Jones, armed with a handgun, approached the Suburban on foot; that after the robbery-shooting, Jones drove the Suburban away and told Jordan to follow him; and that Jones subsequently claimed his gun had discharged accidentally during the robbery.

Jones, 128 P.3d at 532-33.

Additional facts and testimony were submitted to the jury at trial but are not contained in the OCCA's summary. Additional facts necessary for a determination of Petitioner's claims will be set forth in detail throughout this Opinion where applicable.



Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (hereinafter

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"AEDPA"), in order to obtain federal habeas relief once a State court has adjudicated a particular claim on the merits, Petitioner must demonstrate that the adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1-2).

The Supreme Court has defined "contrary to" as a State court decision that is "substantially different from the relevant precedent of this Court." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000) (O'Connor, J., concurring and delivering the opinion of the Court). A decision can be "contrary to" Supreme Court precedent "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases" or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of this Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent." Id. at 405-06. The "unreasonable application" prong comes into play when "the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case" or "unreasonably extends a legal principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply." Id. at 407. In ascertaining clearly established federal law, this Court must look to "the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decisions." Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 660-61 (2004) (quoting Williams, 529

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at 412.

The "AEDPA's purpose [is] to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism. There is no doubt Congress intended AEDPA to advance these doctrines." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 436 (2000). "The question under AEDPA is not whether a federal court believes the...

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