Richmond v. Polk

Decision Date20 July 2004
Docket NumberNo. 03-10.,03-10.
Citation375 F.3d 309
PartiesEarl RICHMOND, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant, v. Marvin L. POLK, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Ann Elizabeth Groninger, Patterson, Harkavy & Lawrence, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant. Diane Appleton Reeves, Assistant Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Burton Craige, Patterson, Harkavy & Lawrence, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant. Roy Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

Before WILKINSON, KING, and GREGORY, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge GREGORY wrote the opinion, in which Judge WILKINSON and Judge KING joined.

GREGORY, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner-appellant Earl Richmond, Jr. was sentenced to death after being found guilty by a North Carolina jury of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree rape. Following exhaustion of his rights of review in the North Carolina courts, Richmond filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina asserting sixteen separate claims. After reviewing the merits of Richmond's claims, the district court granted the State of North Carolina's motion for summary judgment and denied Richmond's habeas petition. The district court thereafter issued Richmond a certificate of appealability for his claims that: (1) the state trial court's voir dire questions were constitutionally inadequate under Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 112 S.Ct. 2222, 119 L.Ed.2d 492 (1992); (2) his counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the guilt phase of his trial by failing to present expert and available lay testimony regarding his inability to form the requisite intent for first-degree murder because of his level of intoxication; (3) his counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the penalty phase of his trial by failing to present expert testimony regarding his substance abuse and its effect on his behavior; and (4) the state trial court's denial of his request for an instruction informing the jury of his parole ineligibility for a prior federal murder conviction violated the Supreme Court's holding in Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154, 114 S.Ct. 2187, 129 L.Ed.2d 133 (1994). We subsequently issued Richmond a certificate of appealability for his claim that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the penalty phase of his trial by failing to (1) retain a sexual abuse expert and (2) request that childhood sexual abuse be presented to the jury as a possible mitigating factor. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the district court's denial of Richmond's habeas petition.

I.

During the early morning of November 2, 1991, Richmond went to the home of Helisa Hayes,1 the ex-wife of his best friend, Wayne Hayes, and allegedly engaged in consensual intercourse with her. Thereafter, Richmond and Ms. Hayes allegedly got into an argument about Ms. Hayes flaunting her relationships with other men in front of her ex-husband. During this argument, Richmond, after supposedly being struck with an object by Ms. Hayes, grabbed and carried Ms. Hayes into her bedroom. Once inside of Ms. Hayes' bedroom, Richmond struck Ms. Hayes in the face with his fist and proceeded to engage in "forceful" intercourse with her. After having "forceful" intercourse with Ms. Hayes, Richmond strangled her to death with his hands and poured rubbing alcohol over her vaginal area. Richmond then grabbed Ms. Hayes' eight-year-old son, Phillip, who was laying down in the hallway outside of his mother's bedroom, carried him into the bathroom, stabbed him approximately forty times with scissors and wrapped an electrical cord five times around his neck. After killing Phillip, Richmond went into the bedroom of Ms. Hayes' seven-year-old daughter, Darien, who was sleeping in her bed, and strangled her to death with the cord from a curling iron. Ms. Hayes' father, William Stewart, discovered the bodies of his daughter and two grandchildren on November 4th when, after having not heard from Ms. Hayes for two days, he became concerned about her safety and broke into her home.

Because Richmond was Wayne Hayes' best friend and because he was well acquainted with Ms. Hayes and her children, even serving as a pallbearer at their funerals, police interviewed Richmond, among others, soon after the dead bodies of Ms. Hayes and her two children were discovered. During this initial interview, Richmond told police that he had not been to Ms. Hayes' home during the weekend of the murders. Moreover, Richmond sought to shift attention from himself by telling police that he believed Wayne Hayes had visited Ms. Hayes' home at some point during the weekend in question. Consequently, police, rather than considering Richmond a suspect, focused their attention on Ms. Hayes' ex-husband, Wayne Hayes, her boyfriend at the time of the murders, Barrett Parks, and her father, William Stewart. Approximately three months after the murders, however, Richmond became a suspect when his sister, Andrea Knight, informed police that she had dropped Richmond off near Ms. Hayes' home on the early morning of November 2nd after they and others attended an all night house party. In light of this information, police requested a suspect rape kit from Richmond, which revealed, through DNA evidence, that the semen found inside of Ms. Hayes' body belonged to Richmond. Based on this DNA evidence, police brought Richmond in for an interview on April 3, 1992.

During this interview, Richmond, after initially denying any involvement in the murders of Ms. Hayes and her two children, confessed to having committed the murders upon being informed that DNA evidence revealed that his semen was found inside of Ms. Hayes' body. When asked to describe the murders, Richmond told police, in sum, the following:

At approximately 3:45 a.m. on the morning of November 2nd, he went to Ms. Hayes' home after leaving an all night house party. Upon arriving at Ms. Hayes' home, he and Ms. Hayes got into an argument about her "messing" around on Wayne Hayes. After arguing, he and Ms. Hayes engaged in "forceful" sex and then got into another argument. During this argument, Ms. Hayes struck him with an object and called her son, Phillip, into the room. In response, he knocked Ms. Hayes to the ground by striking her in the face with his fist, grabbed her son, who at this point had entered the room, and took him into the bathroom where he stabbed him to death with scissors. After killing Phillip, he went into the bedroom of Ms. Hayes' daughter, Darien, and strangled her to death with the cord from a curling iron. He then went back into Ms. Hayes' bedroom where he strangled her to death with his hands and poured rubbing alcohol on her vaginal area.

J.A. 346-67 (testimony of Lieutenant Don Smith). During a subsequent interview on April 5th, Richmond, although altering his recollection of the events, confirmed his confession. During this interview, Richmond told police, in sum, the following:

Upon arriving at Ms. Hayes' home at approximately 3:45 a.m., he engaged in consensual intercourse with Ms. Hayes. After having consensual intercourse, he and Ms. Hayes got into an argument about Ms. Hayes flaunting her relationships with other men in front of Wayne Hayes. During this argument, Ms. Hayes struck him with an object and called her son, Phillip, into the room. In response, he carried Ms. Hayes into her bedroom, struck her in the face with his fist, engaged in "forceful" sex with her strangled her to death with his hands, and poured rubbing alcohol on her vaginal area. After killing Ms. Hayes, he grabbed her son, who had entered and left the room during the aforementioned events and subsequently laid down in the hallway outside Ms. Hayes' bedroom, and took him into the bathroom where he stabbed him to death with scissors. After killing Ms. Hayes' son, he went into her daughter's bedroom, Darien, and strangled her to death with the cord from a curling iron.

Id. at 474-86 (testimony of Captain Art Binder). Based on his April 3rd and 5th confessions, Richmond was indicted on July 6, 1992 for the first-degree rape of Ms. Hayes; the first-degree murder of Ms. Hayes; the first-degree murder of Phillip Hayes; and the first-degree murder of Darien Hayes.

While awaiting trial on these charges, Richmond was charged in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey with the April 4, 1991 murder of Lisa Ann Nadeau, an army dispersing clerk at the Fort Dix military base. On May 28, 1993, Richmond was convicted of Ms. Nadeau's murder and subsequently sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Because the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Pub.L. No. 98-473, Title II, 98 Stat. 1987, abolished parole for federal offenses committed after November 1, 1987, Richmond is not eligible for parole on this conviction.

After being convicted and receiving a life sentence in federal court for Ms. Nadeau's murder, Richmond was tried during the May 1, 1995 criminal session of the Superior Court for Cumberland County, North Carolina for the rape and murder of Ms. Hayes and the murders of her two children. Prior to the commencement of Richmond's trial, the court ruled that the State would be allowed to introduce evidence about Richmond's federal conviction for the murder of Ms. Nadeau, as an aggravating factor, during the penalty phase. Consequently, Richmond's attorneys requested the court's permission to ask potential jurors during voir dire whether "if ... knowing that [Richmond] had a previous first-degree murder conviction, they could still consider mitigating circumstances ... in determining what their...

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