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Hawkins v. McBee

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

March 15, 2019

SHEMIRA HAWKINS, Petitioner,
v.
CHRIS MCBEE, Defendant.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on petitioner Shemira Hawkins's response to the Court's February 28, 2019 order to show cause. (Docket No. 9). The Court had ordered petitioner to show cause why her 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus should not be dismissed as time-barred. Having carefully reviewed petitioner's response, and for the reasons discussed below, the Court must dismiss this action as time-barred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         Background

         On November 25, 2008, petitioner was charged with second degree murder and armed criminal action. State of Missouri v. Hawkins, No. 0822-CR06480-01 (22nd Judicial Cir., St. Louis City). She pled guilty to both counts on July 9, 2010. That same day, she was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         Petitioner filed a motion to vacate in the circuit court on January 13, 2011. State of Missouri v. Hawkins, No. 1122-CC00126 (22nd Judicial Cir., St. Louis City). The motion was denied on May 4, 2011. Petitioner filed a notice of appeal on June 13, 2011. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court on February 14, 2012. State of Missouri v. Hawkins, 358 S.W.3d 588 (Mo. App. 2012). On March 9, 2012, the Court of Appeals issued its mandate.

         Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on October 10, 2018, by placing it in the prison mailing system.[1] (Docket No. 1 at 13).

         On February 28, 2019, the Court issued an order to show cause why petitioner's petition should not be dismissed as barred by the one-year statute of limitations provided by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). (Docket No. 8). Specifically, the Court noted that petitioner's limitations period expired on September 12, 2012, but she did not file her petition until October 10, 2018, over six years later. Petitioner was given thirty days from the date of the order in which to show cause why her case should not be dismissed. She has duly complied with this order by filing a response on March 11, 2019.

         Petitioner's Response

         Petitioner attributes the delay in filing her petition to the fact that when she was sentenced in 2010, she was “illiterate to the law and indigent.” (Docket No. 9 at 2). As such, she states that it has taken her “nearly a decade to comb through” the facts and logistics of her case, as well as seek legal consultation. Further, petitioner has received additional charges that needed to be settled in order for her to seek a reduction in her initial sentence. Now, however, petitioner states that she is ready to fight for her freedom.

         In her show cause response, petitioner lists a number of alleged violations of her constitutional rights with regard to her conviction. She states that at the time of her arrest and plea, she was suffering from PTSD and post-partum depression. She asserts that her attorneys coerced her to plead guilty, and that she did so out of fear of a life sentence. She claims that the wounds she inflicted on her victim may or may not have caused his death, and that the victim's blood alcohol content maximized his physical strength when he encountered her. In short, she claims there is “a significant difference between the murder of a tax paying law abiding citizen and the manslaughter of an indigent alcoholic, combative felon.” (Docket No. 9 at 3). As such, she concludes that she should not have been convicted of murder, but of a lesser charge of manslaughter. Additionally, petitioner believes that the sentence she received was given without leniency or compassion. (Docket No. 9 at 4).

         Petitioner further asserts that her trial counsel was ineffective. (Docket No. 9 at 2). Specifically, she claims that the “evidence and witness statements for trial seemed to be too complicated and overwhelming for counsel to gather.”

         Petitioner notes that she has made a very poor adjustment to prison, and that the Missouri Department of Corrections has not provided sufficient treatment for her mental health needs. She states that since her arrest, she has matured, and that she is now fully prepared to reenter society. (Docket No. 9 at 3-4). She asserts that she was “denied” her initial appeals because of her plea bargain. (Docket No. 9 at 4). She also states that she filed a clemency petition with the governor four-and-a-half years ago, which is still pending. For these reasons, petitioner states that she deserves “reconsideration, reduction of sentence and classification of [her] crime.”

         Discussion

         Under the AEDPA, Congress established a one-year statute of limitations period for petitioners seeking federal habeas relief from state court judgments. Finch v. Miller, 491 F.3d 424, 426 (8th Cir. 2007). This one-year statute of limitations begins to run on the latest of four alternative dates. Jihad v. Hvass, 2 ...


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