Lyons v. Luebbers, 03-3183.

Decision Date11 April 2005
Docket NumberNo. 03-3183.,03-3183.
PartiesAndrew LYONS, Appellant, v. Al LUEBBERS, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Frederick A. Duchardt, Jr., argued, Kearney, MO, for appellant.

Attorney General Stephen D. Hawke, argued, Jefferson City, MO, for appellee.

Before RILEY, JOHN R. GIBSON, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

RILEY, Circuit Judge.

A Missouri state court sentenced Andrew Lyons (Lyons) to death after he was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence, and affirmed the denial of Lyons's motion for post-conviction relief. Lyons filed a timely application for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court1 denied habeas relief, concluding (1) Lyons was competent to stand trial, (2) Lyons failed to show he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and (3) any error the trial court made in admitting Lyons's confession at trial was harmless. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In September 1992, Lyons lived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with Bridgette Harris (Harris) and their eleven-month-old son, Dontay; Harris's seven-year-old son, Demetrius; and Harris's four-year-old daughter, Deonandrea. The relationship between Lyons and Harris deteriorated. Lyons told his long-time friend Roger McNeely he felt like killing Harris, and the "best thing" for Harris to do would be "to get killed or be killed." On September 18, Lyons and Harris separated. Harris and the three children moved in with Harris's mother, Evelyn Sparks (Sparks). Lyons later saw Harris and her sister, Evelyn, walking from Sparks's house to Harris's house. Lyons pulled up in his truck, threw his house keys at Harris, and pulled the front seat of the truck forward, revealing a shotgun. Harris and Evelyn "took off running."

The next day, Lyons told Harris's best friend, Verna Wiseman, he was "tired of them," pointing to Evelyn's house, interfering in his and Harris's relationship. Lyons stated he would "end up killing them." Later that day, Lyons told another long-time friend, Roscoe Newbern, Jr., that Lyons was having problems with Harris and that Sparks should stop interfering, or Lyons would kill Sparks. Late at night on September 19, 1992, Lyons told his friend, Larry Jackson (Jackson), he was tired of Sparks's involvement in Lyons's personal business and was tired of finding the children home alone. Lyons told Jackson he was going to use a shotgun to kill Sparks, Harris, and Evelyn, then catch a train out of town. Jackson told Lyons to think about what he was saying, and the two talked for two to three hours.

Early Sunday morning, September 20, Lyons had an argument with Harris at Sparks's house. Lyons then left the house. Harris and the children had been sleeping in Sparks's basement and were still in the basement. Sparks, who was upstairs, spoke to a friend by telephone a little after 8:00 a.m., and again shortly after 10:00 a.m. From the basement, Demetrius heard a loud noise that sounded like a shot, and Harris told Demetrius to go upstairs to see what happened. As Demetrius went up the stairs, he met Lyons coming down the stairs with a shotgun, and Demetrius recognized the shotgun as belonging to Lyons. When Demetrius arrived upstairs in the kitchen, he saw his grandmother, Sparks, lying on the floor and not moving. After Lyons went downstairs, Deonandrea joined Demetrius upstairs. Hearing two more shots, Deonandrea and Demetrius hid under a bed until Lyons left. Evelyn stopped by the house later Sunday, and Deonandrea and Demetrius then came out of the bedroom. When Evelyn asked about Sparks, Demetrius said she was dead and Lyons had shot her. Evelyn found her mother, Sparks, lying on the kitchen floor and called the police. Police arrived and discovered both Sparks and Harris had been killed by gunshot wounds inflicted from a distance of twenty to forty-two inches. Eleven-month-old Dontay was found dead with a gunshot wound to his left eye that "had split the sides of the skull and blew the back of [his] head out."

After the shootings, Lyons contacted his half-brother, Jerry DePree (DePree), for a ride and told DePree to meet him at John and Gail (Gail) Carter's house. When Lyons arrived at the Carters' house, he told Gail he had killed Sparks, Harris, and Sparks's boyfriend, and that he had killed Dontay by accident. When DePree arrived, Lyons put his shotgun in DePree's car and told DePree he had "done some shooting." Lyons told DePree to drop him off at the Trail of Tears State Park (State Park). Lyons also told DePree to keep the shotgun, to pick up his check for him, but not to drive Lyons's vehicles because the police would be looking for them. Lastly, Lyons told DePree not to tell anyone where Lyons could be found. DePree later turned in the shotgun to the Cape Girardeau Police Department. Examination of the gun revealed it was the shotgun that fired the shots that killed Sparks, Harris, and Dontay.

Lyons was arrested that afternoon at 3:15 p.m. at the State Park. When law enforcement arrived at the park, Lyons fled from the officers towards the woods, but halted when the officers threatened to shoot. The arresting officers advised Lyons of his Miranda rights2 at the time of his arrest, and Lyons stated he understood those rights. The only interrogation question from law enforcement was "what [Lyons] had done with the gun." Lyons said he threw the gun in the river. After being placed in Deputy Vincent Diebold's (Deputy Diebold) car, Lyons asked, "Can I get a lawyer?" Deputy Diebold responded that Lyons could get an attorney. Without any questioning from Deputy Diebold, Lyons asked, "Didn't nobody die, did they?" When Deputy Diebold responded affirmatively, Lyons asked if "all of them" had died.

At the police station, Lyons asked Detective Judy Gentry (Detective Gentry) if he could call an attorney. After Detective Gentry told Lyons he could, and without questioning from Detective Gentry, Lyons stated he "just snapped" and "didn't plan on this." Detective Gentry then gave Lyons a telephone book to find an attorney to call. Lyons then decided he did not want to talk to an attorney, but wanted to call his sister, Lily Mae Foster (Foster). After Lyons called Foster, and while she was en route to the station, Lyons initiated a conversation with Detective Gentry about Harris, her family, Harris's mistreatment of Lyons and the children, Harris's use of drugs, and the problems he and Harris had been having. Detective Gentry introduced Lyons to Trooper Dennis Overbey (Trooper Overbey). Lyons stated he would talk to Trooper Overbey, but that he first wanted to talk to Foster.

When Foster arrived, she and Lyons met in an interview room. After about forty-five minutes, Detective Gentry asked Lyons if he wanted to talk to Foster longer or if he was ready to talk to Detective Gentry and Trooper Overbey. Lyons stated he already had told Detective Gentry and his sister what happened, and Detective Gentry pointed out she had not yet asked Lyons any questions about the incident.

Either Lyons or Foster then stated they wanted to talk to an attorney, and Detective Gentry said she would retrieve a telephone book. When Lyons stated he could not afford an attorney, Detective Gentry told Lyons he could get a court-appointed attorney. Lyons stated he would wait until he went to court.

Detective Gentry then told Lyons she would not contact him again because he had requested an attorney, and if Lyons wanted to talk to her, he would have to initiate contact. Ten minutes later, Detective Gentry, Trooper Overbey, and Detective Keith May (Detective May) returned to take Lyons to his holding cell. As Trooper Overbey and Detective May escorted Lyons, Foster asked Detective Gentry to tell Lyons she would come back if he wanted to talk with the police. Detective Gentry brought Lyons back to Foster, and Detective Gentry and Foster each told Lyons that Foster would come back and sit with Lyons if he decided to talk with the police. Lyons again was informed he would have to initiate any contact with the police since he had requested an attorney.

As Lyons was placed in a holding cell, he told Trooper Overbey he wanted to talk. Detective Gentry was notified and she returned to the holding cell. Trooper Overbey again advised Lyons of his Miranda rights. The deputies used a Participatory Miranda Rights Form, which employs a question and answer format. Lyons stated he understood his rights and wanted to make a statement. Using a Cape Girardeau Police Department Advice of Rights Form, Detective Gentry also informed Lyons of his rights. Lyons again stated he understood his rights and wished to make a statement. Lyons consented to have his statement tape-recorded. In Lyons's tape-recorded statement, Lyons acknowledged he was advised of his rights, that he understood them, and that he wanted to talk to Detective Gentry and Trooper Overbey. Lyons also made a written statement. Lyons confessed, in specific detail, to the killings.

While in jail after arrest, Lyons attempted to electrocute himself. Lyons was then placed on suicide watch and committed to the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH). After Lyons was indicted, the State of Missouri (State) moved for a psychiatric examination, which the trial court granted over the objections of Lyons's counsel.3 Two state forensic examiners, Dr. Bruce Harry (Dr. Harry) and Dr. Michael Stacy (Dr. Stacy), examined Lyons from November 2 to 19, 1992. In a report dated November 23, Drs. Harry and Stacy concluded "Lyons [did] not have the mental capacity to understand the proceedings against him [and was un]able to assist his attorney in his own defense because of his severe depression." The trial court suspended criminal proceedings and committed Lyons to the DMH's custody and care.

In November 1993, Dr. William...

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