United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation [Doc. No. 16] issued by United States
Magistrate Judge Gary M. Purcell pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Judge Purcell recommends that the
Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 be denied. Petitioner, who is represented
by counsel, has filed a timely Objection [Doc. No. 17]. Thus,
the Court must make a de novo determination of any
part of the Report to which a specific objection is made, and
may accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
a state prisoner, seeks relief from a 2016 conviction of
first-degree manslaughter and a 23-year prison
sentence. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
(“OCCA”) affirmed Petitioner's conviction.
See Spruill v. State, 425 P.3d 753 (Okla. Crim. App.
2018). Petitioner timely filed his original Petition on May
14, 2019, and filed the Amended Petition pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). He asserts three claims: 1) denial of
his constitutional right against self-incrimination under
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966); 2) failure
to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in
self-defense; and 3) denial of his constitutional right to
present a defense by excluding proposed testimony from his
22-page Report, Judge Purcell conducts a careful examination
of Petitioner's claims and supporting arguments in light
of Respondent's answer, the relevant state court record,
and governing legal standards. Judge Purcell concludes that
all of Petitioner's claims lack merit. Judge Purcell
finds that Petitioner has not shown the state court's
determinations were either based on unreasonable findings of
fact or unreasonable applications of clearly established
federal law. Petitioner objects to all of Judge Purcell's
findings and conclusions.
death of the victim, Aaron McCray, occurred in the apartment
where he and his family lived. Petitioner resided in an
apartment directly above them. After shooting and killing Mr.
McCray, Petitioner returned to his own apartment, and police
officers who responded to the shooting found him there.
Petitioner surrendered without incident and immediately
stated he wanted an attorney. However, Petitioner (who was
intoxicated) proceeded to talk while being transported to the
police department, and volunteered his version of events.
Also, when Petitioner was taken to an interview room, he
asked the transporting officer to remain in the room with
him. Without Petitioner's knowledge, the officer took a
tape recorder into the room and recorded what Petitioner
detectives assigned to investigate Petitioner's case also
recorded what transpired in the interview room. Soon after
the detectives entered the room, Petitioner requested an
attorney, but the officers did not terminate the interview.
Petitioner proceeded to talk about the incident and describe
what happened. Although the detectives did not ask direct
questions, one made a comment to the effect that if he were
involved in a self-defense situation, he personally would
want to talk about it. Both before and during the interview,
Petitioner repeatedly made incriminating statements about the
OCCA summarized the relevant factual findings as follows:
The record shows that [Petitioner] was in custody at the time
of his various recorded statements; that [Petitioner]
requested the presence of counsel repeatedly starting at the
moment he was arrested in front of his apartment; that
[Petitioner]'s statements were unwarned - that is,
authorities never read him the warning mandated by
Miranda . . .; and that [Petitioner] refused to sign
any waiver indicating that he understood his rights. However,
the record also shows that [Petitioner]'s statements were
not made in response to interrogation from authorities.
Rather, [Petitioner]'s statements were volunteered to
virtually anyone who would listen while he was at the police
department. Volunteered statements of any kind are not barred
by the Fifth Amendment.
“Once a suspect in custody has asserted his right to
speak only through counsel, all attempts at interrogation
must cease. A suspect can, however, change his mind and
decide to speak to police without counsel.” Here, the
State met its burden to prove that [Petitioner]'s
statements were the product of an essentially free and
unconstrained choice by [Petitioner]. . . .
Spruill, 425 P.3d at 755 (citations omitted).
by the deferential standard of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d),
Petitioner mounts a twofold attack on the OCCA's
disposition of his first claim. He challenges both the
reasonableness of the state court's determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented, and the
reasonableness of the state court's application of
Miranda and other Supreme Court cases. See
Obj. at 7-8, 10-15 (discussing Edwards v. Arizona,
451 U.S. 477 (1981); Davis v. United States, 512
U.S. 452 (1994); and Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S.
291 (1980)). Upon de novo consideration, the Court
fully concurs in Judge Purcell's analysis of this claim.
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), “a determination of a
factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be
correct. The applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing
evidence.” The Tenth Circuit has held that “[t]he
presumption of correctness also applies to factual findings
made by a state court of review based on the trial
record.” Al-Yousif v. Trani, 779 F.3d 1173,
1181 (10th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation omitted). The
OCCA's critical findings in this case are that
Petitioner's incriminating statements were not made in
response to interrogation but were volunteered, and that he
changed his mind each time he requested counsel and
voluntarily decided to speak.
careful consideration of the record, the Court finds that
Petitioner has failed to overcome the presumption of
correctness of the OCCA's findings. Petitioner concedes
“there were some volunteered statements, ” and
argues in a conclusory manner “there were numerous
incriminating statements that were obtained over objection,
contrary to Supreme Court precedents.” See
Obj. at 13. Petitioner does not point to clear and convincing
evidence that any particular statement was not volunteered or
any particular request for counsel was not abandoned.
Petitioner instead contends the police officers
“strategically engaged in conduct specifically designed
to cause [him] to make incriminating statements in their
presence” and this “calculated scheme . . . [was]
the functional equivalent of questioning” as defined by
the Supreme Court in Innis. Id. at 2, 14.
However, the OCCA unequivocally rejected Petitioner's
view of the evidence; the OCCA expressly found that his
incriminating statements “were not made in response to
interrogation” and, in so doing, specifically
referenced Innis and ...