Goodwin v. Roper
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 49 : ORDERED that Petitioner's Motion for Relief from Judgment or in the Alternative Supplemental Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, [Doc. No. 49], is denied.. Signed by District Judge Henry E. Autrey on 2/10/14. (CEL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
PAUL T. GOODWIN,
Case No. 4:06CV848 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner’s Motion for Relief from
Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), or in the Alternative, Supplemental
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, [Doc. No. 49]. Respondent has filed a
memorandum in opposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.
Petitioner contends that because of the Supreme Court decision in Martinez
v. Ryan, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1309, he can now raise his ineffective assistance
of counsel claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the
prosecutor’s improper penalty phase closing argument.1
Petitioner’s substantive argument is that trial counsel was ineffective for
Prior to Martinez, a petitioner must have raised each of his claims in the state court or his
claims would be procedurally barred.
failing to object to the improper closing argument of the prosecutor. Initially, the
Court must determine whether the prosecutor’s remarks were inappropriate.
There are two requirements for a due process claim based on prosecutorial
misconduct. First, the defendant must show proof of misconduct, State v. Piper,
663 N.W.2d 894, 913, and second, he must show that the misconduct resulted in
prejudice to such an extent that he was deprived of a fair trial. Id.; United States v.
Bryant, 349 F.3d 1093, 1096 (8th Cir.2003) (citing United States v. Beeks, 224
F.3d 741, 745 (8th Cir.2000)).
As the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals explained in Barnett v. Roper, 541
F.3d 804, 812-13 (8th Cir.2008), a prosecutor's improper remarks can violate the
Fourteenth Amendment if the remarks so "infect[ ] the trial with unfairness as to
make the resulting conviction a denial of due process." Id. (quoting Donnelly v.
DeChristoforo, 416 U.S. 637, 643, 94 S.Ct. 1868, 40 L.Ed.2d 431 (1974)). The
Court continued that habeas corpus relief should only be granted if the statements
are so "inflammatory and so outrageous that any reasonable trial judge would have
sua sponte declared a mistrial." Id. (citations omitted). A court may only grant
relief upon a showing of a reasonable probability that the outcome would have
been different but for the improper statement." Shurn v. Delo, 177 F.3d 662, 667
(8th Cir.1999); Stringer v. Hedgepeth, 280 F.3d 826, 829 (8th Cir.2002).
A finding of prosecutorial misconduct hinges more on the misconduct's
effect on the proceedings than what is actually said. Darden v. Wainwright, 477
U.S. 168, 181 (1986). Not every improper statement calls for a new trial or a
reversal of the judgment of conviction. United States v. Kenyon, 481 F.3d 1054,
1066 (8th Cir.2007) (quoting United States v. Pierce, 792 F.2d 740, 742 (8th
Cir.1986)). The comments must be so prejudicial that it "infect[s] the trial with
unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process." Id.
The record before this Court establishes that the evidence against Petitioner
was indeed overwhelmingly strong , and there was no question that Petitioner was
responsible for the death of the victim. The Missouri Supreme Court summarized
In the summer of 1996, Goodwin moved into a boardinghouse near
Hanley Road in St. Louis County. The boardinghouse was next door
to Mrs. Joan Crotts’s home. Within a week or so of his arrival at the
boardinghouse, Goodwin began confronting Mrs. Crotts. Goodwin
continued to insult and curse her throughout the summer. In August,
Goodwin was having a barbecue in the backyard of the
boardinghouse and began throwing beer cans over the fence into Mrs.
Crotts’s yard. When Mrs. Crotts came out to complain, Goodwin
picked up a sledgehammer and smashed a rock with it saying: “This is
your head . . . if you keep messing with me.”
A short time later, Mrs. Crotts left her home to attend a social
function. Goodwin confronted her in the driveway and yelled: “Get
your fat ass back in the house, bitch. I’ve got one coming for you.”
Mrs. Crotts’s (adult) daughter intervened and ended the
confrontation, but Goodwin was evicted from the boardinghouse. As
he left the boardinghouse, he said to Mrs. Crotts: “I am going to get
you for this, bitch.”
A year and a half later (March 1, 1998), Mrs. Crotts called the police
at 5:00 a.m. to report that someone had tampered with her vehicle.
An officer arrived, and Mrs. Crotts reported that she had found some
papers taken from her car and thrown on the ground. She also
reported that her dogs had been let out of her backyard and that a step
on the back porch was out of place. The officer found no suspicious
persons in the neighborhood.
Goodwin had already entered Mrs. Crotts’s house that morning and
hid in the basement until after the police left. ([Goodwin] . . . opened
the backyard gate, entered Mrs. Crotts’s house through an unlocked
back door, sat on a chair in the basement and smoked a cigarette.
Several hours passed. Eventually, [Goodwin], carrying a hammer,
climbed the basement stairs and confronted Mrs. Crotts in her
kitchen. (43 S.W.3d at 810-11.) He grabbed her arm and forced her
into the living room where he forced Mrs. Crotts to perform oral sex
on him. He then took her back to the kitchen. While drinking a twoliter bottle of Pepsi, he wrote on a piece of paper “you are next,” and
forced her to walk to the head of the basement stairs. With both
hands, he shoved her down the stairs. As she lay face down and
unmoving at the bottom of the stairs, Goodwin watched her for a
while. Then he hit the back of her head several times with the
sledgehammer and left the house.
Mrs. Crotts’s daughter found her, still alive, that afternoon, and Mrs.
Crotts related these events to a police officer at the hospital. Mrs.
Crotts died that evening (following emergency surgery). An autopsy
revealed that Goodwin inflicted injuries all over her body. In
addition to the skull fractures, which caused her death, she had
bruises and injuries on her face, chest, shoulders, back, buttocks,
knees, thighs, and both arms and hands. She had eight broken ribs
and a broken hip. Many of the wounds were defensive wounds.
Many of the injuries were not consistent with a fall down the stairs,
but instead of a beating.
The police found the note and Pepsi bottle. Goodwin’s fingerprints
were on both. They also found bootprints in the spilled Pepsi. Two
cigarette butts and a wrapper, the brand Goodwin smoked, were
found in the basement. Just outside the door, police found Goodwin’s
hearing aid. After obtaining a warrant to search Goodwin’s home, the
police found blood stains on a pair of his jeans, underpants, and
boots. The boots matched the bootprints left in the spilled Pepsi.
The police picked Goodwin up at work that day. After being offered
a sign-language interpreter and being advised of his Miranda rights,
Goodwin admitted to killing Mrs. Crotts and provided the details
above. (In his oral statement to the police, [Goodwin] admit(ed) to
being at Mrs. Crotts’s home. [Goodwin] said that he had spent the
evening drinking heavily at a bar . . . . Between 11:00 p.m. and
midnight, he got a ride with a co-worker who dropped him off at a . . .
gas station. [Goodwin] began walking and eventually arrived at Mrs.
Crotts’s backyard, opening the gate and entering the basement as
detailed above. Following the completion of his statement,
[Goodwin] accompanied police to the victim’s house and re-enacted
the events of the morning of March 1. 43 S.W.3d at 811.
At trial, the defense relied primarily on the theory that [Goodwin]
suffered from a mental disease or defect preventing him from acting
with deliberation or being responsible for his conduct. Id.
The overwhelming evidence of Petitioner’s guilt satisfies any further
inquiry necessary to evaluate the degree of prejudice. Most importantly, there is
no doubt but that Petitioner actually committed the murder. Newlon v.
Armontrout, 885 F.2d 1328 (8th Cir. 1989). The Court need not proceed,
therefore to assess trial counsel’s failure to object because the alleged
prosecutorial misconduct did not violate Petitioner’s due process rights, and
therefore, Petitioner can show no prejudice resulting from the lack of objection.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner’s Motion for Relief from
Judgment or in the Alternative Supplemental Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus,
[Doc. No. 49], is denied.
Dated this 10th day of February, 2014.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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