Waterford v. Washburn

Decision Date21 April 2020
Docket NumberNo. 3:19-cv-00651,3:19-cv-00651
Parties Clark Beauregard WATERFORD #168248, Petitioner, v. Warden Russell WASHBURN, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Tennessee

Clark Beauregard Waterford, III, Hartsville, TN, pro se.

Michael Matthew Stahl, Tennessee Attorney General's Office, Nashville, TN, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALETA A. TRAUGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The petitioner, Clark Waterford, is a state prisoner incarcerated in the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex, where she is serving a forty-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.1 She filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and paid the filing fee. (Doc. Nos. 1, 5.) The court will deny the petition for the reasons explained below.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals summarized the evidence and outcome at the petitioner's trial as follows:

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on May 11, 2010, Clayton Harris found the body of the victim, Faye Burns, lying in a puddle of blood on her bedroom floor next to her bed. There were significant amounts of blood on the bed, the floor, and the victim. By the time the police arrived, the blood appeared to be "somewhat coagulated." The victim's shirt and bra had been partially removed, exposing part of her breasts. The victim's pants were still on, but they had been "unbuttoned and unzipped." The room appeared to be in disarray, as if there had been some kind of struggle. Various objects had been knocked over, items were scattered across the floor, and there was some broken glass on the floor. A knife and a glass ashtray were found in the bedroom. The knife was clean and had no blood or fingerprints on it. A change purse was also found in the bedroom, but it contained no money.
In addition to the blood found in the victim's bedroom, the police found blood stains on the sink and toilet in the victim's bathroom. A towel that appeared to be stained with blood was found on the floor outside the bathroom. There were five red stains that appeared to be blood on the wall of a staircase leading to the downstairs area of the victim's apartment. There were also two small stains that appeared to be blood on the front door of the apartment. There was no evidence that anything had occurred in the downstairs portion of the apartment. The police were unable to obtain any useful fingerprints inside the victim's apartment. The police did locate a receipt from a local Dollar General Store in an unused bedroom in the apartment. The receipt was dated May 10, 2010, and time-stamped at 8:46 p.m.
Mr. Harris testified that he was the victim's boyfriend and that he spent most nights at the victim's apartment. According to Mr. Harris, the victim would drink until she was intoxicated five or six days a week. Mr. Harris testified that when the victim got "full of them drinks" she would "get to raising hell, playing loud ass music, and cursing, and picking up things and throwing them." Mr. Harris stated that when the victim became belligerent, he would leave the apartment and return the next morning. Mr. Harris claimed that the victim had previously scratched his neck and slammed his thumb in a door but that those were the only times she had ever physically hurt him.
Mr. Harris testified that on May 10, 2010, he received some money and gave the victim fifty dollars. He and the victim ran some errands and did some shopping that morning before returning to the victim's apartment. Mr. Harris admitted that he "started getting high" while at the apartment and that he had smoked crack cocaine that day. Mr. Harris believed that the victim had also smoked cocaine that afternoon. The victim's friend, Michael Eubanks, came to the apartment and spent the afternoon with the victim and Mr. Harris. At some point, the victim left to purchase a fifth of whisky. Mr. Harris testified that when the victim returned, she drank "that whole fifth of [whisky] like it was water."
According to Mr. Harris, sometime around 4:30 p.m. "all hell broke loose" and the victim "started acting a fool and cussing" him and Mr. Eubanks, calling them "all kinds of b–––hes and hoes." Mr. Harris testified that the victim took his cell phone and slung it at Mr. Eubanks, "hit[ting] him upside the face." Mr. Eubanks left shortly after that, around 5:00 p.m. A short time later, the victim kicked Mr. Harris out of the apartment. Mr. Harris told the victim that he would be back the next morning to get his clothes. Mr. Harris testified that there was no physical altercation between him and the victim and that he left when she told him to. Mr. Harris then went to a friend's house where he spent the night. The police later confirmed that Mr. Harris had stayed with a friend that night.
Mr. Eubanks testified at trial that he was a close friend of the victim and that he had been at her apartment all day on May 10, 2010. Mr. Eubanks admitted that he sold crack cocaine to Mr. Harris and that he and the victim would "just [get] high together." Mr. Eubanks claimed that he did not have any cocaine that day but had "smoked weed" instead. Mr. Eubanks testified that the victim would get "a little belligerent" and "might get loud" when she was drunk but that she had never assaulted him. Mr. Eubanks testified that he left the victim's apartment sometime after 5:00 p.m. Mr. Eubanks claimed that he did not leave because the victim threw a cell phone at him. According to Mr. Eubanks, the victim "tossed" the phone and "accidently hit [him] in the side of the head." Mr. Eubanks testified that he left because the victim was getting drunk but stated that she "was acting fine" when he left.
Mr. Harris testified that the victim did not have a phone but that she called him around 9:00 p.m. that night from a number he did not recognize. The victim asked Mr. Harris to come back to her apartment, but Mr. Harris said to her, "F—k you, b–––h, I ain't coming back down there no more til in the morning [to] get my clothes." Mr. Harris testified that the victim continued to call him until 3:00 a.m. that morning, but he did not answer any more of her phone calls. The next morning, Mr. Harris went to the victim's apartment and found the screen door and front door both unlocked. Mr. Harris went into the apartment and saw that the bedroom light was on. He called for the victim and went upstairs to the bedroom when he got no response. Mr. Harris saw the victim's body and touched her chest to see if she was still alive. Mr. Harris testified that he believed the victim was dead so he ran outside and called 911. Mr. Harris waited outside for the police and then cooperated with their investigation.
Detective Johnny Crumby of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) testified that he was the lead investigator in this case. Det. Crumby interviewed Mr. Harris and examined Mr. Harris's cell phone. Det. Crumby testified that on May 10, 2010, Mr. Harris received several phone calls between 9:22 and 9:55 p.m. from two phone numbers belonging to the Defendant. Det. Crumby also testified that based upon the Dollar General Store receipt found in the victim's second bedroom, he retrieved the store's video surveillance footage in hopes of seeing who the victim was with that night. Instead, the footage showed the Defendant, wearing an orange reflective vest and with his hair styled in a unique manner, making a purchase alone. Mr. Harris testified that he had never met the Defendant, but the victim had talked about him. Mr. Eubanks testified that he had met the Defendant at the victim's apartment and that the victim "fed [the Defendant], housed him, [and] clothed him." Mr. Eubanks further testified that the victim let the Defendant stay at her apartment "when he didn't have [anywhere else] to go."
After the victim's murder, the Defendant fled to Missouri. The Defendant was eventually apprehended and returned to Tennessee. The Defendant waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with Det. Crumby. During their conversation, the Defendant asked Det. Crumby if "there [was] any such thing as self-defense in this state," and Det. Crumby responded that there was. The Defendant then told Det. Crumby that he had "been a victim of some things before" and that several years earlier he had been kidnapped and severely beaten by a woman. The Defendant told Det. Crumby that he did not "want that to happen a second time." The Defendant claimed that the victim was "very abusive to a number of people" and that she had "victimized" him in the past. The Defendant told Det. Crumby that he was taking a bath at the victim's apartment when she became very upset because he had accidentally used one of her towels and "then that's when the altercation began." The Defendant claimed that the victim "confronted [him] as soon as [he] got out of the bathtub" and that she "started throwing things and pulling that little knife." Det. Crumby asked the Defendant if he then "just defended [himself]," and the Defendant responded, "right." The Defendant told Det. Crumby that the evidence against him appeared "to be irrefutable."
Det. Crumby testified that he did not know who owned the knife found in the victim's bedroom. Mr. Harris testified that he had never seen the knife before and that he did not believe it belonged to the victim because she "wasn't the type to carry [a] weapon around with her." Additionally, the victim's daughter testified that her mother did not carry a knife or any other weapon. The victim's daughter also testified that her mother would carry her money either in her bra or in a change purse that she would sometimes place in her bra. Det. Crumby testified that he decided not to have any forensic tests performed on the blood and DNA evidence found in the victim's apartment after he interviewed the Defendant.
Dr. John B. Davis, an expert in forensic pathology, testified that he performed an autopsy on the victim. Dr. Davis determined that
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