U.S. v. Lankford, No. 98-10645

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore KING, Chief Judge, and SMITH and STEWART; KING
Citation196 F.3d 563
Docket NumberNo. 98-10645
Decision Date16 November 1999
Parties(5th Cir. 1999) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff-Appellee v. WILLIAM DOUGLAS LANKFORD, III Defendant-Appellant

Page 563

196 F.3d 563 (5th Cir. 1999)
No. 98-10645
November 16, 1999
Rehearing Denied Dec. 27, 1999.

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Copyrighted Material Omitted

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Copyrighted Material Omitted

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

Before KING, Chief Judge, and SMITH and STEWART, Circuit Judges.

KING, Chief Judge:

Following a jury trial, Defendant-Appellant William Douglas Lankford, III ("Lankford") was convicted of one count of kidnapping in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1201, one count of interstate domestic violence in violation of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ("VAWA"), Pub. L. 103-322, Title IV, 40221(a), 108 Stat. 1926, and one count of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to commission of the above crimes of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c). He appeals both his conviction and sentence, asserting that (1) the kidnapping count was insufficient and as a result, his conviction was potentially based on legally inadequate grounds; (2) the kidnapping and interstate domestic violence counts were multiplicitous; (3) the interstate domestic violence count was based on an unconstitutional statute; (4) comments and questions by the judge and arguments by the prosecutor rendered his trial unfair; (5) jury instructions were incomplete; (6) evidence was insufficient to support conviction on any count; and (7) his sentence was in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause

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and exceeded the statutory maximum. We affirm.


Lankford's conviction and sentence stem from events occurring August 8 and 9, 1995. Lankford's wife, Joanie, had moved out of the house they shared with their three children in Wichita Falls, Texas, in April 1995, taking the children with her. She had indicated a desire for a divorce in September 1994, and by April, divorce hearings were being held. They were still married at the time of Lankford's trial.

On August 8, Lankford purchased a set of handcuffs, proceeded to Wichita Falls' Midwestern State University, where his estranged wife was employed, and there waited for his wife to leave for lunch. Upon seeing her, Lankford ran to her, and claimed to have a gun. He attempted to force her into her car, but she resisted and a struggle ensued. During this struggle, Joanie saw a gun. Lankford told his wife that if she did not get into the car, he would kill her, and then himself. She believed him. Lankford eventually forced his wife into her car, took her keys, and then drove to a nearby church parking lot where he had parked his car. During this time, Lankford was yelling at Joanie, angry about her attempts to avoid him. He told her that he was going to make her talk to him. At the church lot, Lankford forced her into his car, and once she was in the passenger seat, handcuffed her left wrist to the gear shift. Lankford's gun was in his car. They proceeded to the interstate. Lankford put a towel over Joanie's handcuffs and warned her not to flag down police officers or anyone else. He informed Joanie that they were going to Oklahoma to talk and that "they were going to make this work out one way or the other." He also told her that they were going to get a motel room and spend the night. Joanie protested going to Oklahoma, citing her work and her need to take care of her mother.

During the trip to Oklahoma, Lankford's behavior frequently shifted from displays of anger to being calm. They made several stops while still in Texas, once at a rest stop, once at a convenience store, and once to get gas. The handcuffs were removed when they reached the rest stop. Lankford at all times stayed close to his wife. He waited outside while she went into a restroom, and stood near her when she did as Lankford instructed and called her workplace to say she was sick and would not be returning. He had someone else fill the gas tank for him. Joanie believed he had a gun in his pocket at the rest stop and saw the gun when they stopped at the convenience store. She did not cry out or attempt to flee because she feared that Lankford would shoot her.

Once in Lawton, Oklahoma, Lankford rented a motel room. Joanie accompanied him to the office, but did not attempt to escape because of her fear of what he would do. Rather than go to the room right away, Joanie told him that they should pick up some things she needed, as Lankford had promised they would. She did not want to go to the room because she believed Lankford would try to have sex with her, which she did not want. Finding a cleaning cart at the door of the room, the pair went to Wal-Mart to purchase some make-up and clothes for Joanie, and to a drive-through restaurant to pick up some dinner. While at Wal-Mart, Joanie attempted to delay going to the motel by insisting she try on clothes other than the work-out clothes Lankford had picked out.

When they returned to the motel room, Joanie requested that Lankford not get drunk and not bring the gun into the room. He agreed, but brought beer into the room along with the dinner they had picked up and the packages from Wal-Mart. Joanie tried to eat, but felt sick. She told Lankford she felt as though she had to be ill. He told her to get in the bed, and began taking off her clothes. She got in bed, still wearing her underclothes, and pretended to go to sleep. Later, he also got in to

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bed, and began to take off her underclothes. She had her arms across her stomach, and said "Please don't." He nonetheless proceeded to have sex with her. Sometime after that, he had sex with her again. Joanie testified that she was still afraid of Lankford at this time, and felt there was no way out. The next morning, August 9, after answering a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call, Lankford returned to bed and again had sex with Joanie.

The first time Lankford left Joanie alone was when they were preparing to leave the motel. His emotional state on the trip back to Wichita Falls was calm. He told Joanie not to tell the police or anyone else about the trip, and dropped her off near her car. Joanie then drove home, but afraid to stay there, went to the home of her boss. From there she went to the hospital. For two weeks afterward, Joanie stayed at a shelter.

Lankford was arrested on October 4, 1995, and indicted on October 31. The indictment charged Lankford with one count of interstate domestic violence, 18 U.S.C. 2261(a)(1), one count of kidnapping, 18 U.S.C. 1201, and one count of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence. 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Lankford filed a motion to dismiss either Count 1 or Count 2 because they were multiplicitous. That motion was denied. The Government was granted its motion for leave to introduce evidence of "other acts" under FED. R. EVID. 404(b) and 413(a). Those "other acts" included 1) a January 1995 incident during which Lankford, after arguing with his wife, prevented her from stopping or exiting the car he was driving by putting her in a head lock and threatening to break her neck. Maintaining the head lock after reaching their home, Lankford dragged his wife into the bedroom, and ordered her to remove her clothes. Joanie struggled and resisted. At one point, Lankford placed her in a potentially lethal karate hold, and at another point, while pinning her down with his knees, threatened that the children would awaken the next morning as orphans. The attack subsided, Lankford begged for sex, and then engaged in sex with Joanie; 2) a May 29, 1995 incident lasting approximately five hours during which Lankford, dressed in black and armed with a gun, broke in to his wife's separate residence at around 1:00 a.m. and, finding her sleeping with her boyfriend, struck and threatened to kill both of them. With the boyfriend ordered to lay face down on the floor, Lankford ordered Joanie to perform oral sex on him, he performed sexual acts on her, and then ordered Joanie and her boyfriend to engage in specific sexual acts with each other; 3) a July 30, 1995 incident during which Lankford threatened to bind his wife with strips of duct tape that were hanging on the wall unless she submitted to having sex with him; and 4) a September 26, 1995 incident during which Lankford, after struggling with Joanie's boyfriend outside her residence, broke in to that residence. Joanie, hearing the struggle outside, had armed herself with a small caliber weapon, and when Lankford, again dressed in black, entered, she fired one shot. That shot entered the side of Lankford's head. Lankford then beat Joanie repeatedly. After Lankford was arrested for this incident, police found a folding knife in Joanie's house.

Lankford's first trial ended in a mistrial. His second trial, which began on June 4, 1996 and lasted eight days, ended with the jury finding Lankford guilty on all counts. Lankford filed a motion for judgment of acquittal or in the alternative for a new trial. This motion was denied October 31, 1996. Lankford was sentenced to a term of 135 months as to Counts 1 and 2 to run concurrently, to a term of 60 months as to Count 3 to run consecutively, supervised release for a term of five years, a special assessment of $150 ($50 per count), and ordered to pay $562.50 in restitution to Joanie Lankford under 18 U.S.C. 2265(c). He received credit for time served.

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Lankford filed his notice of appeal November 6, 1996. This appeal was dismissed June 12, 1997 because Lankford's attorney failed to file a brief within this court's deadline, despite receiving several extensions. Lankford then filed an Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Brief Out of Time with this court, and counsel filed an Unopposed Motion to Reinstate Case. Both motions were denied on June 19, 1997. Lankford then filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct...

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