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Starkey v. Spackler

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 11, 2015

MARK A. STARKEY, Petitioner,


RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

Mark Starkey petitions the Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. All of the grounds raised in the petition are wholly frivolous. As a result, I will dismiss this action without further proceedings. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Rule 4.


The Court takes the facts of this case from the Missouri Court of Appeals:

[Starkey] was married to Joanna Wilson ("Joanna") for twenty-one years, during which time they lived in Texas. Joanna left Texas in late 2007 or early 2008 and moved to St. Louis. She traveled back and forth from St. Louis to her hometown of Poplar Bluff and reestablished a relationship with Rodney Barker ("Barker"), who had known Joanna in high school. Joanna and Barker were having an affair. [Starkey] and Joanna eventually divorced.
In January 2008, [Starkey] called Barker and asked Barker to describe his sexual relationship with Joanna. Barker told [Starkey] not to call him anymore, but [Starkey] kept calling. The frequency of [Starkey]'s calls increased to the point of approximately forty phone calls within a twenty-four-hour time period. [Starkey] left messages on Barker's answering machine, yelling and using vulgar language. [Starkey] threatened to blow Barker's head off, and threatened to send people to rape Barker's grandchildren. Barker also received letters from [Starkey] with pornographic photographs and vulgar language. Barker complained to the police in February and April 2008.
Stalking the Prosecutors
The prosecuting attorney of Butler County, Kevin Barbour ("Prosecutor"), and his office filed charges of aggravated stalking against [Starkey]. Judge John Bloodworth ("Judge Bloodworth") signed a warrant for [Starkey]'s arrest. He later recused himself at the request of [Starkey] and defense counsel because he went to high school with Barker, but did not socialize with him or know where Barker lived. Judge Bloodworth has a practice of disclosing the relationship if he knows a party to the case, and recusing if he is requested to do so.
In May 2008, [Starkey] was arrested in Texas on the aggravated stalking charges involving Barker, but was placed on a twenty-four hour hold and was then released on bond. The charges were dismissed after a preliminary hearing. An assistant prosecuting attorney for Butler County, Paul Oesterreicher ("Asst. Prosecutor"), handled the preliminary hearing. The charges were re-filed in October 2008. Judge Bloodworth signed the warrant. [Starkey] was arrested again, and again, was released on bond.
In October 2008, the Prosecutor's Office began receiving calls from [Starkey]. Kendra Hampton Gore ("Gore"), the receptionist, generally took the calls, but Cheryl Link ("Link"), the Prosecutor's secretary, also answered the phone. [Starkey] identified himself as "Mark Starkey" and Gore could recognize his voice on calls thereafter. Link also answered calls from [Starkey], who identified himself. [Starkey] would ask to speak with Prosecutor or Asst. Prosecutor, but the receptionist would take a message rather than putting the calls through. [Starkey] used vulgar language toward the staff. The secretaries began keeping a log of the calls, including calls on November 15, 17, 18, 21, and 24, 2008. On November 24, 2008, [Starkey] stated that if Prosecutor did not call off the warrants and if the judge did not get off his back, he was going to blow up the building. Link told Prosecutor and Asst. Prosecutor about the call. On the same day, less than ten minutes later, Gore took a call in which [Starkey] said to "tell [Prosecutor] and [Asst. Prosecutor] to report themselves now" or they would be killed. He also used vulgar language. Gore communicated the message to Prosecutor and Asst. Prosecutor. Within the same hour, [Starkey] called Link again, regarding "getting ready to take a magic carpet ride out of this world, " and then [Starkey] hung up the phone. Link decided to try to record as many of the calls as she could. One such call stated "somebody" would get killed.
In addition to the phone calls, the Butler County Prosecuting Attorney's Office received numerous faxes, totaling seventy-two pages, from one Texas phone number, (903)432-4332, from October 27 through November 21, 2008. Some had [Starkey]'s name in them. Asst. Prosecutor was aware of all of the faxes, some of which he pulled off the fax machine himself. In the faxes, [Starkey] claimed the proceedings against him were unlawful, that Prosecutor, Asst. Prosecutor, and Judge Bloodworth were perpetrating a fraud and should report themselves to federal authorities and go to jail, and the case should be dismissed. Some faxes took issue with Judge Bloodworth's jurisdiction and involvement in the case. [Starkey]'s demands were in letter form or "press release" form rather than legal pleadings. One fax referred to the saying, "don't mess with Texas, " while others used profanity and warned, "Gonna be a tough week boys..., " referring to hillbilly lawyers. Link observed the faxes all came from the same area code and collected them in a file folder. She kept Prosecutor and Asst. Prosecutor informed on the matter.
Asst. Prosecutor also received two copies of a letter containing partially nude photographs of Joanna and referring to "devil play" in two separate envelopes addressed to Asst. Prosecutor's wife. The envelopes had return address labels with Barker's name and address. The same copies were sent in envelopes to the Prosecutor's Office, Prosecutor's wife at their home address, Judge Bloodworth and his wife separately, and the courthouse.
Asst. Prosecutor's family received at least one message on their answering machine. Asst. Prosecutor was concerned that [Starkey] had managed to find his address and home phone number, and was aware of the calls containing [Starkey]'s threats to kill him. He made arrangements for his children to stay with his in-laws if he knew that [Starkey] was coming to town.
Prosecutor also was aware of the faxes, letters, and phone calls coming into the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. He received at least one call at his home as well. Although he hung up, the phone continued to ring every ten to fifteen minutes all night long, for six or seven hours. In one phone call, [Starkey] asked questions about Prosecutor's ex-wife and his father. Prosecutor listened to most of the recorded calls, including one that stated he would be killed if he didn't call off the warrants. Prosecutor was aware of the threats to kill him, as well as the threat to blow up the building. He was "quite concerned" about the threats and kept a gun close by him in his truck. He gave guns to his wife and son; the son kept the gun at his own home. Prosecutor also had safety glass and a panic button installed in his office, he had police officers in his office and escorting him across the street to the courthouse on occasion. An officer followed Prosecutor all day at court appearances when he believed [Starkey] was going to appear. Prosecutor thought [Starkey] seemed very determined and obsessive.
[Starkey] pled guilty to the federal charge of using an instrument of commerce to threaten to destroy a building by means of an explosive. He was ...

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