Turner v. Crosby

Citation339 F.3d 1247
Decision Date29 July 2003
Docket NumberNo. 02-14941.,02-14941.
PartiesWilliam T. TURNER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. James CROSBY, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)

James Charles Lohman (Court-Appointed), Austin, TX, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Charmaine M. Millsap, Tallahassee, FL, Sandra Sue Jaggard, Miami, FL, for Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before CARNES, HULL and MARCUS, Circuit Judges.

HULL, Circuit Judge:

William Thaddeus Turner appeals the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition challenging his death sentence. Turner argues that his attorneys rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to introduce certain mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of his trial and that his death sentence violates his constitutional right to a jury trial as established in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556 (2002). After review and oral argument, we affirm Turner's sentence.

A. Turner Murders his Wife and Joyce Brown

The facts concerning the two murders largely are undisputed. In 1969, Turner married Shirley Hart, a victim in this case, and for more than ten years, they had a loving, harmonious marriage. By 1983, however, their marriage had deteriorated. In February 1984, Shirley decided to leave Turner and take their two young daughters, seven-year old Anetra and five-year old Anita, with her. Shirley and the daughters moved in with Joyce Brown, the other victim in this case, and Joyce's fifteen-year old daughter, Irene Hall.1

Turner responded to the separation by spying on Shirley with binoculars, watching Joyce's house, and peeping into the windows of Joyce's apartment. Turner repeatedly arrived at Joyce's apartment asking to speak to his estranged wife, but Shirley refused to see or talk to him. Joyce informed Turner on several occasions that Shirley did not want to talk to him.2

During visits to Joyce's house, Turner threatened to kill both Shirley and Joyce and blamed Joyce for the disintegration of his family. Turner believed that his wife and Joyce were lesbians and prostitutes, who sold drugs and participated in illicit behavior in the presence of his daughters, especially seven-year old Anetra.

At approximately 6:30 a.m. on July 3, 1984, Turner walked to Joyce's apartment. Turner was armed with a large knife and his father's single-shot shotgun, which he obtained without his father's permission. While kneeling on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building, Turner fired the shotgun two or three times into the building, shooting directly into the front door and windows and reloading after each shot.

At trial, Irene testified that she heard the shots and that Shirley ran into Irene's bedroom and "ask[ed] her how to lock the door." Anetra also was present in Irene's bedroom. Shirley was unable to lock the door, and Turner entered the bedroom carrying the shotgun and the knife. While lrene hid under the bed, Turner pushed Shirley onto the floor, where he stabbed her approximately twenty-two times in the presence of fifteen-year old Irene and seven-year old Anetra. According to the two girls, Turner repeatedly cursed at Shirley as he continually stabbed her, saying: "bitch, I hate you;" "I'm sick and tired of you;" "you won't let me see my kids;" and "[y]ou're the bitch I want."

Anetra attempted to save her mother by beating on her father's back and telling him to stop. Anetra ran out of the room when she heard Joyce call for her. Turner did not say anything to Anetra or Irene and did not react to anything the children said or did. Irene remained under the bed while Turner continued to stab Shirley to death.

After stabbing Shirley, Turner left the apartment building and went to the telephone booth where Joyce was on the phone with the police.3 As approximately forty people watched, Turner stabbed Joyce repeatedly. Turner pulled Joyce out of the telephone booth by her hair and continued to stab her as she lay on the ground. Joyce's daughter, Irene, approached a neighbor, handed him a shotgun, and begged the neighbor to shoot Turner. The shotgun, however, was empty; so the neighbor threw rocks at Turner in an attempt to stop the stabbing. Joyce begged Turner not to kill her, but Turner replied, "no, you're the one who kept my family away from me."

The record is in dispute regarding whether Turner ceased stabbing Joyce when a police car passed by the telephone booth. Two witnesses testified that Turner continuously stabbed Joyce despite the fact that a police officer drove by and failed to stop to assist. In contrast, another witness testified that Turner stabbed Joyce a number of times until a police car drove by, and Turner "stood up in a correct position and pretended that there wasn't anything going on." According to this witness, after the police car drove by, Turner started to stab Joyce again. In addition, daughter Irene testified that Turner stabbed her mother, retreated behind a house until the police car passed by the scene, and then returned to the telephone booth to continue the stabbing.

Officers John Venosh, Carlton Aikens, and E.L. MacDonald of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrived at the scene shortly after the murders. Turner fled down an alley, and the police officers chased him. According to Officer Venosh, Turner stopped, raised his hands while keeping a knife in his right hand, and then took a step toward the officer. After a momentary standoff, Turner dropped the knife and surrendered to the officers. Officer Venosh testified that Turner immediately stated, "please don't kill me, please don't kill me." As Turner and the officers walked to the patrol car, Turner remarked, "She was f — king up my family, she was f — king up my life." Officer MacDonald described Turner as quiet and not hysterical, noting that Turner "appeared to be in control of himself."

Turner was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Shirley Turner and Joyce Brown.

B. State's Evidence in Guilt Phase

Turner's murder trial began more than a year later on August 13, 1985.4 Although what happened during the murders is largely undisputed, we recount in detail certain testimony that relates to the issues on appeal. During the guilt phase, the State first called James Edward Andrews, Joyce's neighbor and an eyewitness to her murder. Andrews testified that on the morning of July 3, he "heard two shots[,]... ran on the front porch," and saw Turner fire a third shot from in front of Joyce's apartment building, handling the shotgun "like a professional." Andrews then returned to the inside of his house to call the police and upon returning outside saw Joyce "running to the telephone booth." Andrews testified that Turner "opened the telephone booth door and ... stabbed her several times," and then he "pulled her out of the telephone booth on the left-hand side and he got down on her and stabbed her several more times." According to Andrews, Turner stabbed Joyce "[b]etween 40 and 45" times. At one point, Turner stopped the stabbing, and, as a police car drove by, Turner "stood up in a correct position and pretended there wasn't anything going on." Andrews also testified that Turner did not respond in any way when seven other bystanders yelled and threw bricks and other debris at Turner.

Regarding Turner's behavior prior to the murders, Andrews testified that he had seen Turner approximately "eight times" spying on the apartment building where Turner's wife and Joyce resided, including "a few times with binoculars." Andrews heard Turner threaten to kill Shirley, Joyce, and another neighbor, Daniel Robinson.

The State then called Daniel Robinson who testified that he heard the shotgun blasts and ran out the back door of his apartment building. When Robinson got to the front of the building, "Mr. Turner was coming out [of] the house with blood all over him and he had a knife in his hand." Robinson testified that Turner then ran "down to the telephone booth and grabbed Joyce and was cutting on Joyce." According to Robinson, Joyce's daughter, Irene, came to him "with a shotgun and she handed the shotgun to [him] and she kept hollering ... stop Mr. Turner, don't let Mr. Turner kill my mother, please stop him." The shotgun, however, was empty, so Robinson threw rocks at Turner but "he just kept on stabbing her." Robinson also testified that Turner did not stop stabbing Joyce when the police drove by and that "he could tell [Turner] was mad because he was slobbering all out of the mouth" while he stabbed Joyce. Robinson stated that approximately forty people witnessed Turner stabbing Joyce.

Robinson testified that prior to the date of the murders, Turner was in the neighborhood "everyday ... [p]eeping and ... harassing" Shirley and Joyce. On a prior occasion, Turner threatened to kill him, Joyce, and Shirley. Robinson further testified that Turner's spying, including watching the apartment with binoculars, had been occurring for four or five months and that Turner moved into a boarding house one block away from Joyce's apartment.

The State then called two officers from the Sheriff's Office in Jacksonville. Officer MacDonald responded to the call for help near Joyce's apartment complex and testified about Turner's demeanor and condition upon arrest. According to MacDonald, Turner's "hands were cut" and "soaked in blood," and "[h]e appeared to be in control of himself. He wasn't hysterical... just quiet." Officer L.M. Burton, an evidence technician, testified extensively about the physical evidence, photographs, and diagrams that he gathered at the crime scene. The evidence included Turner's knife and shotgun; photographs of the victims, the phone booth, and the damage inflicted by the shotgun blasts to the front door and windows of the apartment; and diagrams of the...

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