Mammone v. Jenkins, Case No. 5:16CV900

CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJames G. Carr Sr. U.S. District Judge
PartiesJames Mammone, Petitioner v. Charlotte Jenkins, Warden, Respondent
Docket NumberCase No. 5:16CV900
Decision Date09 October 2019

James Mammone, Petitioner
Charlotte Jenkins, Warden, Respondent

Case No. 5:16CV900


October 9, 2019


This is a capital habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

In 2010, a jury sitting in the Common Pleas Court of Stark County, Ohio convicted the petitioner, James Mammone, of murdering his two children and his former mother-in-law. The same jury recommended that Mammone be put to death, and the trial court imposed a death sentence. The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence on direct appeal, State v. Mammone, 139 Ohio St. 3d 467 (2014), and the Ohio courts rejected Mammone's collateral attack, State v. Mammone, 2012 WL 3200685 (Ohio App. 2012).

Pending is Mammone's amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which raises nineteen grounds for relief. (Doc. 23). For the following reasons, I deny the petition.


In June, 2009, the Stark County grand jury indicted Mammone on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated battery, and one count each of violating a protection order and attempted arson.

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Each aggravated-murder charge carried two death-penalty specifications that, if proved, would make Mammone eligible for a death sentence.

Count one, which charged Mammone with killing his mother-in-law Margaret Eakin, carried a course-of-conduct specification and a specification that Mammone had killed Margaret in the course of an aggravated burglary. Counts three and four, which charged Mammone with killing his daughter Macy (age five) and son James IV (age three), contained course-of-conduct and child-murder specifications.

Mammone pleaded not guilty and went to trial in January, 2010.

A. Trial

According to the Ohio Supreme Court, whose factual determinations are presumptively correct on habeas review, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), the prosecution:

called Mammone's ex-wife, Marcia Eakin, to testify. Marcia testified about the breakdown of her relationship with Mammone and stated that she first told Mammone in August 2007 that she intended to leave him. On that day, Mammone stayed home from work and refused to let her or their two children, Macy and James IV, leave the family's Canton residence. Mammone broke Marcia's cell phone and took all the house phones. She did not leave him that day.

{ ¶ 6} Marcia and Mammone sought counseling, but she did not feel that the marital relationship improved. She testified that Mammone threatened her, warning that "if I tried to leave he would kill me and the children." Unbeknownst to Mammone, Marcia contacted a lawyer to initiate the process of filing for divorce.

{ ¶ 7} On June 13, 2008, Mammone learned that Marcia was seeking a divorce when he intercepted a call from Marcia's lawyer. According to Marcia, Mammone again threatened to kill her, declaring: "I told you if you tried to leave me I was going to kill you." He told Macy and James on that date that "it was time for mommy to go to her grave." Mammone did not let Marcia or the children out of his sight for the rest of the day.

{ ¶ 8} Marcia explained that she and the children managed to get away from Mammone, and she sought a civil protection order against him. On July 10, 2008, the Stark County Common Pleas Court issued a two-year protection order

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requiring Mammone to stay more than 500 feet away from Marcia. He was permitted only supervised contact with the children.

{ ¶ 9} Marcia testified that the Mammones' divorce was finalized in April 2009. Under the final divorce decree, Mammone was permitted overnight visitation with the children four times a month and evening visitation twice a week. Marcia explained that Mammone picked up and dropped off the children at the home of her parents, Margaret and Jim Eakin, so that Mammone would not have direct contact with Marcia or know where she lived. During visits, Mammone was permitted to text Marcia about matters pertaining to the children.

{ ¶ 10} Marcia testified that on Sunday, June 7, 2009, Mammone picked up five-year-old Macy and three-year-old James at the Eakins' home for a scheduled overnight visit. Mammone was driving his green BMW.

{ ¶ 11} Marcia met a friend, Ben Carter, to play tennis and have dinner. At 4:25 p.m., Mammone began to text Marcia. Although the two never spoke that night, they exchanged dozens of text messages over the next 15 hours, and records of these messages were introduced at trial.

{ ¶ 12} At first, Mammone sought advice about consoling Macy, who was upset. But he quickly shifted to blaming Marcia for the children's suffering, texting: "How long are we going to let these children that you * * * had to have suffer?" Throughout the evening Mammone repeatedly texted Marcia, accusing her of "ruin[ing] lives" by putting herself first. He admonished her to put her children first and demanded to know what was more important than the kids at that moment. Marcia replied by texting that Mammone should "stop tormenting" the children. No fewer than five times, she offered to have Mammone return the children to her mother's house or asked if she could meet him to pick up the children.

{ ¶ 13} Mammone advised Marcia in a text that he was "at [the] point of no return" and that he "refuse[d] to let gov restrict my right as a man to fight for the family you promised me." At 9:11 p.m., he warned Marcia that "safe and good do not apply to this night my love." Marcia promptly responded, texting: "Do not hurt them." At 9:35 p.m., she asked him to "[k]eep them safe." Mammone texted:

You got five minutes to call me back on the phone. I am not fucking around. I have stashed a bunch of pain killers for this nigh[t] * * * i hope u would never let happen. I have put on my wedding band, my fav shirt and I am ready to die for my love tonight. I am high as a kite * * * bring o[n] the hail of bullets if need be.

{ ¶ 14} At this point, Marcia called 9-1-1. The state played a recording of the call at trial. On the recording, Marcia advised the 9-1-1 operator that her children were in a car with her ex-husband, who had threatened to take "a bunch of

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painkillers" and had said that he was "ready to die tonight." While Marcia was on the line with the 9-1-1 operator, the operator attempted to call Mammone, but he would not answer his phone. After speaking to the 9-1-1 operator, Marcia texted Mammone that she would not call him (in accordance with the operator's advice), and again urged him to "keep the kids safe." At 10:18 p.m., Marcia in a text to Mammone asked him to meet her so that she could pick up the kids. Marcia's friend Carter confirmed that he and Marcia then drove around looking for Mammone.

{ ¶ 15} Marcia testified that she then contacted both Mammone's mother and the wife of Richard Hull, Mammone's friend and former employer. Phone records indicate that Richard Hull began to text Mammone, advising him to calm down and keep the kids safe. Hull's texts suggested that Mammone should drop the kids off with Mammone's mother. Hull testified that he and his father also drove around for a time looking for Mammone but did not find him.

{ ¶ 16} At 2:00 a.m. on June 8, Mammone sent a text to Marcia, stating, "I am not one who accepts divorce. * * * I married you for love and for life * * *." At 2:36 a.m., he wrote, "I am so dead inside without u. The children r painful * * * [r]eminders of what I have lost of myself. This situation is beyond tolerable. So what happens next?" At 2:50 a.m., Mammone reiterated in a text to Marcia that the love of his children was "only a source of pain" without her love.

{ ¶ 17} Hull testified that around 3:00 a.m., he spoke to Marcia and decided not to go back out looking for Mammone because they were hopeful that everything would be fine. Marcia attempted to end her text conversation with Mammone, writing, "Please[ ] keep kids safe good night."

{ ¶ 18} At 5:34 a.m., Mammone texted Marcia: "Last chance. Here it goes."

{ ¶ 19} One of the Eakins' neighbors, Edward Roth, testified that around 5:30 a.m., he heard gunshots and screaming through his open bedroom window. Roth said that he saw a goldish-tan-colored car leaving the Eakin residence and several minutes later saw the same car returning to the street to sit in the middle of the intersection near the house. Roth called 9-1-1. A law-enforcement officer testified that he and another officer arrived to find Margaret Eakin lying severely injured on the floor of a second-floor bedroom. The officers observed two shell casings and a broken lamp.

{ ¶ 20} Marcia testified that she heard a car roar up her driveway around 5:40 a.m. From a second-floor bedroom window, she saw Mammone get out of the car and empty a red gasoline container onto Carter's truck, which was parked in the driveway. She called 9-1-1, and a recording of the call was introduced at trial by the state. While Marcia was on the phone, she "heard the glass in my back door breaking in and he was inside my apartment." She did not hear Mammone speak, but she heard something that he had thrown hit the ceiling. He then went back

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outside and threw things at the windows. Mammone left before two deputy sheriffs arrived. According to the deputies, the back door had been forced open, the screen-door glass was broken, and pieces of the door frame were on the kitchen floor.

{ ¶ 21} The deputies quickly realized that the incident at Marcia's apartment was linked to the incident at the Eakins' residence, but law-enforcement officers had not yet located Mammone, and they did not know whether the children were safe.

{ ¶ 22} At 6:04 a.m., Mammone left a voice mail on Hull's phone, in which the jury heard Mammone confess to Hull, "I killed the kids." Mammone's voice mail continued:

I said it when I got locked up fucking 358 days ago that she fucking has to die and unfortunately as fucking sick as it sounds I concluded after a while that she took my family from me and the fucking way to really get her is to take fucking her mom

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