United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
WILLIAM C. CRAYTON, Petitioner,
TROY STEELE, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the petition of William C.
Crayton for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
William C. Crayton is presently incarcerated at the Potosi
Correctional Center pursuant to the sentence and judgment of
the Circuit Court of St. Louis City. On April 28, 2010, a
jury found petitioner guilty of first-degree murder and armed
criminal action. Resp.'s Ex. A at 92; Resp.'s Ex. B
at 79. The trial court sentenced petitioner as a prior
offender to concurrent terms of imprisonment of life without
parole and 75 years. Resp.'s Ex. A at 99; Resp.'s Ex.
B at 80. Petitioner appealed his conviction, and on May 3,
2011 the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed. State v.
Crayton, 344 S.W.3d 252 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011); Resp.'s
filed a timely motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to
Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15, which the post-conviction
court denied without holding an evidentiary hearing. On June
18, 2013, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial
of post-conviction relief. Crayton v. State, 405
S.W.3d 561 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013); Resp.'s Ex. I. On June 4,
2014, petitioner timely filed this petition for relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
facts as found by the state courts are as follows:
Wright was killed in a shooting in his home on June 11, 2008.
Christopher Hughey was Wright's cousin. Tr. 158. Isaiah
Payne is Hughey's younger brother and also was
Wright's cousin. Tr. 223-24. On the afternoon of
Wright's death, Hughey and Payne were in a house across
the street from Wright's house, sitting by a double
window close to the front entrance. Tr. 159. At one point,
Hughey and Payne saw an unfamiliar person walking up to
Wright's house. Tr. 161. Payne went over to Wright's
house to see who was there.
Payne chatted and smoked cigarettes with Wright and his
visitor on the porch for 20-45 minutes, he sat less than five
feet from the unknown man. Tr. 225-26, 230. The man bummed
two cigarettes from Wright while they were talking and asked
Wright if he knew where he could get heroin and ammunition.
Tr. 227-28. The man also pulled a 9-millimeter pistol from
the waistband of his pants and showed it to Wright during
their conversation. Tr. 229-30. Shortly after, Wright
instructed Payne to go back across the street where he was
supposed to be cutting grass. Tr. 230-31. While Payne was
across the street putting the lawn mower away, he heard four
or five gunshots. Tr. 231. As he came around the front of the
house, Payne saw the man who was on the porch with him
earlier leaving Wright's house and fixing his shirt. Tr.
232. The man told Payne that Wright was in the bathroom, but
would be out in a minute. After hearing the gunshots, Hughey
saw Wright's cousin Tamara Thomas run out of the side of
the house and into the front yard. Tr. 162. Hughey and Payne
subsequently ran over to the house, opened the door, and saw
Wright dead in his chair. Tr. 163, 232.
was in a bedroom in the house when Wright was killed. Tr.
108-10. She heard the voice and footsteps of another person
in the house with Wright and heard the sound of approximately
five gunshots. Tr. 110-12. After some time had passed, Thomas
came out of the bedroom and saw her cousin dead in his chair,
but she did not see the person she had heard with the victim.
Tr. 113-16. An evidence technician with the St. Louis City
Police found empty shell casings from a semiautomatic handgun
near the victim. Tr. 90-92. A firearm and tool mark examiner
with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department testified
that at least two of the empty shell casings were fired from
the same firearm. Tr. 122-23. The deputy chief medical
examiner of the St. Louis City Office of Medical Examiner
conducted an external examination and autopsy of Wright. Tr.
277-79. Wright had four gunshot wounds to the head and one to
the right arm. The medical examiner opined that Wright had
died from one of the gunshot wounds to his head. Tr. 283. A
DNA analyst for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
crime laboratory analyzed cigarette butts found at the scene
of the crime and concluded that DNA profiles from two of the
cigarette butts were consistent with that of petitioner to a
reasonable degree of scientific certainty. Tr. 271-73.
Sabin, a homicide detective with the St. Louis Metropolitan
Police Department in charge of the investigation of
Wright's death, stated that she initially investigated
Bobby Brandon, also known as “B.O.B., ” as a
suspect based on rumors in the neighborhood. Tr. 133. When
she showed photographs of Brandon to Hughey and Payne and
included Brandon in a live line-up, however, neither
identified Brandon as having been involved with Wright's
death. Tr. 134-35, 234- 35. Petitioner became a possible
suspect from a combined DNA indexing system (CODIS) hit on
the cigarette butts found at the scene. Tr. 135-36, 154.
After the CODIS hit, Sabin included petitioner's
photograph in a photo spread to show Hughey and Payne. Tr.
135-36. Both witnesses independently identified petitioner as
the person he saw at the scene on the date of the incident.
Tr. 137, 235-37.
making his photo identification, Hughey stated that
petitioner looked like the same person he saw based on his
facial structure and complexion. However, Hughey was only 50%
sure because he was across the street at the time of the
incident. Tr. 137, 198. Payne stated that he was 100% sure of
his photo identification, because he had had a conversation
with petitioner on the date of the incident. Tr. 138. Sabin
then conducted a live line-up containing petitioner at the
St. Louis Justice Center. Tr. 138. Hughey picked petitioner
out of the line-up in a matter of seconds and stated that,
based on his size, build, and stature, he was pretty sure
petitioner was the person involved with the incident. Tr.
immediately identified petitioner and stated that he had sat
on the front porch of Wright's house and had a
conversation with petitioner for several minutes on the date
of the incident, during which he smoked cigarettes with
petitioner. Tr. 139. Petitioner was taken into custody and
charged with the death of Wright in early November 2008. Tr.
155; Resp.'s Ex. B at 12.
testified on his own behalf that he had been a childhood
friend of Wright's and occasionally met up with him to
sell him marijuana after moving away from the neighborhood.
Tr. 297-98. He stated that he was not with Wright on June 11,
2008 and neither shot Wright nor saw him get shot. Tr. 299.
He also stated that he had never seen Hughey or Payne before
the trial. Tr. 304. He could not recall the last time he had
been in Wright's home. Tr. 301-06.
facts will be included as necessary to address
claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court
proceedings, habeas relief is permissible under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), only if the state
(1) 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;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented