Williams v. Workman, Case No. 09-CV-0164-JHP-TLW

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Northern District of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtJames H. Payne
PartiesJEREMY ALAN WILLIAMS, Petitioner, v. RANDALL WORKMAN, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No. 09-CV-0164-JHP-TLW
Decision Date19 October 2012

JEREMY ALAN WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL WORKMAN, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.

Case No. 09-CV-0164-JHP-TLW

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

Dated: October 19, 2012


OPINION AND ORDER

This is a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus action. Petitioner, Jeremy Alan Williams, is an Oklahoma death row prisoner. Williams appears through counsel, challenging his convictions and sentences in Tulsa County District Court Case No. CF-2004-2805 (Dkt. # 28). Respondent filed a response to the petition (Dkt. # 36), and Williams filed a reply (Dkt. # 46). The state court record has been provided.1 The Court considered all of these materials in reaching its decision. For the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes the petition should be denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual background

The relevant underlying facts of this case were set out in lengthy detail by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) in addressing Williams' direct appeal. Williams v. Oklahoma, 188 P.3d 208, 214-17 (Okla. Crim. App. 2008). A short summary here provides background.

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On June 22, 2004, around 9:15 a.m., two masked gunmen2 entered the First Fidelity Bank at 2432 East 21st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tr. Trans. Vol. III at 625, 645, 801. The gunmen demanded money. During the course of the robbery three persons were shot. Bank president, Mark Poole, and bank customer, Howard Smith, were seriously wounded but recovered from their gunshot injuries. They both testified at Williams' trial. Bank teller, Amber Rogers, died as a result of gunshot wounds suffered during the robbery. Tr. Trans. Vol. VI at 1502.

Within twenty four hours the masked gunmen were identified as Alvin "Tony" Jordan and petitioner Williams. They were arrested, together with the driver of the getaway vehicle, Chris Jordan. Williams was charged with four counts: Count 1 - First Degree Murder, with alternative theories of malice murder or felony murder;3 Count 2 - Robbery with Firearms; and Counts 3 and 4 - Shooting with Intent to Kill.4 The State of Oklahoma filed a Bill of Particulars seeking the death penalty on Count 1, alleging three aggravating circumstances: (1) Williams created a great risk of death to more than one person; (2) the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding arrest or

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prosecution; and (3) the existence of a probability that Williams will commit violent criminal acts that would constitute a continuing threat to society.

II. Procedural history

Williams' case was severed from his co-defendants for jury trial. He was represented at trial by attorneys Creekmore Wallace and Carla Root. His trial commenced on February 21, 2006, and concluded on March 6, 2006. The jury found Williams guilty of all four counts, and assessed punishment at fifteen years on Count 2, and life imprisonment on Counts 3 and 4. After finding the existence of two aggravating circumstances (great risk of death to more than one person and continuing threat), and determining the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances, the jury recommended a sentence of death on Count 1. On March 20, 2006, the trial judge sentenced Williams in accordance with the jury's recommendations.

Represented by attorneys William H. Luker and Traci J. Quick from the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS), Williams filed a direct appeal of his convictions and sentences to the OCCA in Case No. D-2006-338. He identified thirteen (13) propositions of error as follows:

Proposition 1: The trial court committed reversible error by allowing the State to introduce evidence of Appellant's prior robbery of First Fidelity Bank, a prior crime which had nothing to do with the robbery on June 22, 2004, violating Appellant's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 2: The trial court committed reversible error by improperly denying Appellant's challenge for cause against several prospective jurors, thus compelling Appellant to use peremptory challenges against said jurors and resulting in the empaneling of objectionable jurors in violation of the Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7, 9, 19, and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

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Proposition 3: The trial judge violated Appellant's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and Art. II, § 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, when he allowed Officer Kennedy to testify about the fruits of an illegal search and seizure.
Proposition 4: Reversible error was committed when the prosecutor questioned Dyra Malone about statements to the police on redirect examination when the subject matter of those statements had not been inquired about on cross-examination. The introduction of these statements violated Appellant's right to due process of law as established by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, § 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 5: Admission of irrelevant but highly prejudicial evidence violated Appellant's due process rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 6: The improper tactics and arguments of the prosecutor deprived Appellant of a fair trial and a reliable sentencing proceeding, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 7: The trial court erred in permitting irrelevant and unqualified expert or technical opinion testimony from Detective Jeff Felton. His opinion testimony invaded the province of the jury and denied Appellant a fair trial and the due process of law secured to him by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7, 19, and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 8: The State presented insufficient evidence to support Appellant's conviction for First Degree Malice Aforethought Murder, and accordingly imposing this conviction upon Appellant violates rights to due process of law and a reliable sentencing proceeding in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 9: Mr. Williams' death sentence must be vacated because the use of victim impact evidence violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

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Proposition 10: Error in the jury instruction defining mitigation denied Mr. Williams' rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to due process and a reliable sentencing proceeding.
Proposition 11: The "continuing threat" aggravating circumstance is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied by this court, thereby rendering Mr. Williams' death sentence invalid in contravention of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as Article II, §§ 2, 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 12: Appellant received ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7, 9, and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Proposition 13: The accumulation of error in this case deprived Mr. Williams of due process of law, and a reliable sentencing proceeding in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

See Brief of Appellant filed March 19, 2007 in OCCA Case No. D-2006-338.

On June 25, 2008, the OCCA affirmed the conviction and sentence for first degree murder. Williams, 188 P.3d at 232. Williams filed a petition for rehearing on July 15, 2008, which was denied on July 24, 2008. Dkt. # 28 at 8. He also filed a petition for certiorari before the United States Supreme Court in Case No. 08-7973. The petition was denied on March 2, 2009. Williams v. Oklahoma, 129 S.Ct. 1529 (2009).

Williams' first application for post-conviction relief was filed on May 1, 2008, together with an application for an evidentiary hearing and request to conduct discovery, in OCCA Case No. PCD-2006-1012. Represented by OIDS attorneys Wyndi Thomas Hobbs and Kelsie Buntin, he presented the following three (3) grounds for relief:

Proposition I: Trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the Oklahoma Constitution by failing to adequately investigate, develop and present mitigating evidence on behalf of Mr. Williams.

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Proposition II: Trial counsel were ineffective for failing to attempt to rehabilitate potential jurors who expressed doubt at their ability to give a death sentence.
Proposition III: The cumulative impact of errors identified on direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings rendered the trial resulting in the death sentence arbitrary, capricious, and unreliable. The death sentence in this case constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and a denial of due process of law.

See Original Application...

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