United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
RONALD K. HALKMON, JR., Petitioner,
IAN WALLACE, Respondent,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
K. Halkmon, Jr., petitions the Court for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. After reviewing the case
file, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to
relief, and the petition is denied.
Missouri Court of Appeals recited the facts of this case as
On February 25, 2008, Edmond Mack (Victim) was a roommate of
[Petitioner]'s brother, Avedou Halkmon (Avedou), living
together in the upstairs apartment of a two-family flat on
Lotus. Although [Petitioner] had recently moved into the
downstairs apartment, he was being evicted and was moving out
while Carlos Vaughn (Vaughn) and his girlfriend LaTonya
Holmes (Holmes) were moving in. Vaughn's friend Kerry
Green (Green), who drove a burgundy-and-tan pickup truck that
he parked nearby, was also present during the move.
During the move, in the downstairs apartment, [Petitioner]
and Victim were having an argument about [Petitioner]'s
girlfriend, when Avedou heard Victim tell [Petitioner] he was
“tripping” and then a shot was fired. Avedou came
out of the upstairs apartment to see what was happening. He
saw Vaughn and Green standing at the door to the apartment
building behind [Petitioner], who was holding Victim by his
shirt collar with one hand and holding a .38 revolver in his
other hand. Avedou said seven or eight times to [Petitioner],
“I know you ain't just shoot L,
” and [Petitioner] never looked at or
responded to him. [Petitioner] pulled Victim down the last
few steps of the stairwell and out the door of the building.
Avedou saw Vaughn and Green go though [sic] Victim's
pants pockets, then went back inside his apartment to call
911. As he was calling, he looked through the window of his
upstairs apartment and saw [Petitioner], Vaughn and Green run
to the burgundy-and-tan pickup truck, get inside, and speed
Holmes attempted to perform resuscitation on Victim while
Avedou called 911. Avedou then returned to Victim to assist
Holmes and Victim told him, “Your brother was tripping,
[Avedou].” Before the police arrived Avedou called his
sister Marnesa Lewis (Lewis) and told her that their brother,
[Petitioner], had shot Victim. Victim died before the
Lewis arrived shortly before the police. When police arrived,
Avedou told police that all he knew was that someone had been
shot and he did not knew who did it.
Avedou, however, told Lewis again that [Petitioner] had shot
Victim. Lewis took Avedou back to Lewis's own home. While
Avedou was at Lewis's home, [Petitioner] called
Avedou's cell phone. Avedou put the call on speakerphone,
and [Petitioner] said, “You going around telling people
I whacked L, it's like that for you.” Avedou asked,
“What?” [Petitioner] said, “It's like
that, I know you ain't telling people I whacked L.”
Avedou felt threatened by the conversation, so he spent the
night in a hotel.
Lewis and Avedou finally went to the police station. Avedou
gave the officers a statement detailing everything he had
seen [Petitioner], Vaughn and Green do to Victim. On February
29, 2008, police took [Petitioner] into custody.
The State charged [Petitioner] with one count of first-degree
murder, one count of first-degree robbery, and two counts of
armed criminal action (ACA). On September 28, 2009,
[Petitioner] was tried jointly with Vaughn and Green.
[Petitioner] testified in his own defense at trial.
[Petitioner] stated that he, Victim, and Avedou had been
selling drugs from the apartment building, and Avedou was
upset and jealous of the arrangement [Petitioner] had with
Victim regarding sharing the profits. [Petitioner] stated on
the day of the murder Avedou was the one being evicted and
was angry about it. [Petitioner] testified Avedou shot Victim
during an argument over drug customers. [Petitioner]
testified he was outside when he heard a gunshot, pushed the
apartment door open, and saw Victim on the stairwell,
crumpled over, and Avedou at the top of the steps.
[Petitioner] said he tried to assist Victim out onto the
porch but then left to go to his mother's and
Cyntoria's house because he had drugs on his person and
thought police were on their way.
After trial, the jury found [Petitioner] guilty as charged
and the trial court entered judgment thereon, sentencing him
as a prior offender to life imprisonment without parole for
the murder, and concurrent thirty-year terms on the robbery
and ACA counts.
Resp't Ex. I at 2-4 (Mem. Supplementing Order Affirming
J. Pursuant to Rule 84.16(b)).
raised four points on direct appeal: (1) that the trial court
erred in denying his judgment for acquittal on the
first-degree murder charge because the evidence was
insufficient to support a finding of guilt; (2) that the
trial court erred in denying his judgment for acquittal on
the first-degree robbery charge because the evidence was
insufficient to support a finding of guilt, particularly the
element of the existence of any taken property; (3) that the
trial court erred in denying his motion to sever his trial
from that of his co-defendants; and (4) that the trial court
erred in overruling his objection and allowing the jury to
hear hearsay evidence offered by Marnesa and Cyntoria Lewis
regarding statements made to each by Avedou in that the
testimony served to bolster Avedou's testimony and was
not properly offered to rehabilitate a witness whose
credibility was in question. Resp't Ex. E at 6-7 (Mem.
Supplementing Order Affirming J. Pursuant to Rule 30.25(b)).
The Missouri Court of Appeals found the arguments to be
meritless and affirmed the judgment. Id. at 7-13.
filed a timely postconviction motion under Missouri Rule
29.15. Resp't F at 4-25 (Rule 29.15 Legal File).
Appointed counsel filed an amended motion, which superseded
the pro se motion. Id. at 29-41; see Norville v.
State, 83 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo.Ct.App. 2002). The motion
court denied relief without holding an evidentiary hearing.
Resp't Ex. F at 42-49.
appeal, Petitioner argued that (1) trial counsel was
ineffective in constructively and effectively waiving his
right to remain silent by telling the jury during voir dire
that he would testify and had prior convictions; (2) trial
counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and
present the rebuttal testimony of Demetrius Ingram that
Avedou told Ingram that he talked to the police regarding
Petitioner's involvement in the crimes; and (3) the
prosecutor committed misconduct by telling the jury in
opening statement that they would hear Shante Jennings's
testimony about what she witnessed at the crime scene, when
the prosecutor knew he had lost contact with her, and
therefore intentionally misrepresented the State's
ability to produce Jennings as a witness. Resp't Ex. I at
6-10. The appellate court denied points one and two on the
merits, and it found that point three was not cognizable in
Rule 29.15 proceedings. Id. at 6-11.
filed the instant petition on about December 5, 2013. On
April 16, 2014, Petitioner moved for leave to add four new
claims to the petition. The Court denied the motion on March
13, 2015, because the proposed amendments were futile.
petition, Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief:
(1) Trial counsel was ineffective for:
1) failing to investigate witnesses Marnesa Lewis and
2) disclosing privileged work product to the State;
3) constructively waiving his right to remain silent;
4) failing to object to prosecutorial misconduct;
5) failing to object to uncharged conduct;
6) failing to properly subpoena Shante Jennings.
(2) The prosecutor committed misconduct by failing to produce
Shante Williams at trial and by introducing statements of
uncharged conduct through a witness.
(3) The trial court erred in not severing his case from his
(4) The trial court erred in allowing hearsay evidence.
(5) “Newly discovered evidence, ” which was
contained in his trial legal file, demonstrates his actual
(6) Postconviction counsel was ineffective for failing to
argue that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to
raise his prosecutorial misconduct claim on direct appeal.
(7) The evidence was insufficient to support the conviction
for first-degree murder because the elements of deliberation
or premeditation were not proved, and there was insufficient
evidence to support the conviction for first-degree robbery
because it was never proved that he took any property from
avoid defaulting on a claim, a Petitioner seeking habeas
review must have fairly presented the substance of the claim
to the state courts, thereby affording the state courts a
fair opportunity to apply controlling legal principles to the
facts bearing on the claim. Wemark v. Iowa, 322 F.3d
1018, 1020-21 (8th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks omitted). A
claim has been fairly presented when a Petitioner has
properly raised the same factual grounds and legal theories
in the state courts that he is attempting to raise in his
federal petition. Id. at 1021. Claims that have not
been fairly presented to the state courts are procedurally
defaulted. Id. at 1022 (quoting Gray v.
Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161-62 (1996)). Claims that
have been procedurally defaulted may not give rise to federal
habeas relief unless the Petitioner can demonstrate cause and
prejudice for the default. Id. “[T]he
existence of cause for a procedural default must ordinarily
turn on whether the prisoner can show that some objective
factor external to the defense impeded counsel's efforts
to comply with the State's procedural rule.”
Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488 (1986).
habeas setting, a federal court is bound by the AEDPA to
exercise only limited and deferential review of underlying
state court decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327
F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003). Under this standard, a federal
court may not grant relief to a state prisoner unless the
state court's adjudication of a claim “resulted in
a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ”
or “was based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court
proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
court decision is contrary to clearly established Supreme
Court precedent if “the state court arrives at a
conclusion opposite to that reached by [the] Court on a
question of law or . . . decides a case differently than
[the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable
facts.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413
(2000). A state court decision is an unreasonable application
of clearly established federal law if it “correctly
identifies the governing legal rule but applies it
unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's
case.” Id. at 407-08. Finally, a state court
decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts
in light of the evidence presented in the state court
proceedings only if it is shown that the state court's
presumptively correct factual findings do not enjoy support
in the record. 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(1); Ryan v.
Clarke, 387 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2004).
ground one, Petitioner raises several claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel. Federal habeas review of an
ineffective assistance of counsel claim is “doubly
deferential.” Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S.
111 (2009). First, a petitioner must overcome the high bar of
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), by
showing that (1) counsel's performance fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) petitioner was
sufficiently prejudiced such that “the result of the
proceeding would have been different.” Id. at
688, 694. Second, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the petitioner
must show that the state court's adjudication of his
ineffective assistance claim was “unreasonable.”
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 105 (2011). Both
the Strickland standard and the ...