Mauldin v. Searls, 21-0172

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
PartiesJames N. Mauldin, Petitioner Below, Petitioner v. Shelby Searls, Superintendent, Huttonsville Correctional Center, Respondent Below, Respondent
Docket Number21-0172
Decision Date31 August 2022

James N. Mauldin, Petitioner Below, Petitioner
v.

Shelby Searls, Superintendent, Huttonsville Correctional Center, Respondent Below, Respondent

No. 21-0172

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

August 31, 2022


(Berkeley County 2016-C-155)

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Petitioner James N. Mauldin, by counsel S. Andrew Arnold, appeals the Circuit Court of Berkeley County's December 1, 2020, order dismissing his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent State of West Virginia, by counsel Patrick Morrisey and William E. Longwell, filed a response in support of the circuit court's order.[1]

This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the order of the circuit court is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

This petition for a writ of habeas corpus stems from petitioner's felony convictions of death of a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian by child abuse; child abuse causing serious bodily injury; malicious assault; and two counts of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of injury, in addition to presentation of false information regarding a child's injuries (a misdemeanor), all related to the death of petitioner's three-year-old son, Kaiwon "K.C." Connelly. As a result of his convictions, petitioner was sentenced to a forty-year term of incarceration for death of a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian by child abuse. The remaining sentences were ordered to run concurrently to that sentence.

Prior to filing the instant petition, petitioner directly appealed his convictions to this Court, and we affirmed the convictions by memorandum decision in State v. Mauldin, Case No. 14-1142, 2016 WL 6756794 (W.Va. Nov 15, 2016)

1

(memorandum decision).[2] As we set forth in that memorandum decision:

The State's evidence at trial revealed that Mauldin lived in Martinsburg, West Virginia with his girlfriend, Jasmine Dawkins, and the couple's infant son. Mauldin shared custody of his other son, three-year-old [K.C.], with the child's mother, Shevecka Connelly, a Maryland resident K.C. spent Thanksgiving Day 2011 with his mother before being picked up by Mauldin to visit for a few weeks. During the month of December, Ms. Connelly, who was without a vehicle repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to contact Mauldin to arrange for K.C.'s return. On New Year's Eve 2011, an ambulance was dispatched to Mauldin's home in response to a call that K.C. had fallen and "busted his lip." When the ambulance arrived, K.C. was discovered, wet and cold, in full cardiac arrest on the bathroom floor
Paramedics restored K.C.'s pulse and took him to the hospital. There, K.C. was observed to have visible scrapes, bruising, and swelling to the face, a lesion on both sides of his upper lip, and bruising around the entire circumference of his wrists. A mark on his thigh resembled the shape of a handprint. K.C.'s
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