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Galbreath v. Griffith

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

April 8, 2019




         Before the Court is Petitioner Stephan Galbreath's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons below, the Petition is DENIED, a certificate of appealability is DENIED, and the case is DISMISSED.


          The Missouri Court of Appeals stated the facts as follows on direct appeal:

In 2004, Defendant was the most notorious cocaine dealer in Osage Beach and the surrounding area. Around November of that year, he permitted a dealer who sold cocaine for him, named Robert “Boo” Jones (“Boo”), to front an ounce of cocaine to Michael Young (“Young”). Young agreed to sell the cocaine for Boo and pay him back later, but instead he “wound up doing it all” himself. Boo called Young for a couple of weeks trying to collect the $1, 000.00 Young owed him for the cocaine, but Young continued to evade him. Defendant wanted his money, so he ordered Boo to go with him to Young's house “to make an example out of him.” Defendant got very angry when Young said he did not have the money and ordered Boo to “do something” about it. Boo hit Young several times in the jaw while Defendant yelled, “Is that all he's going to get? You need to hit him one more time.” When Boo finally stopped hitting Young, the men ordered Young to get in the car and told him that he wasn't going to leave their sight until they got their money. They drove him to Boo's house, where Young was not free to leave. Defendant told Young he better call some people and try to get the money. Young called several people, but could not get a hold of anyone because it was so late at night.
Young spent the night at Boo's house, and the next morning recommenced his efforts to raise money by calling several people. He called his ex-girlfriend (“Victim”)[1] several times. She kept refusing to help him, telling him she didn't have any money. That afternoon, there were several people over at Boo's house. Defendant took his .38 revolver and fired a shot into the floor near the head of a drug dealer who was sleeping on the floor. The dealer jumped up, thinking that Defendant had shot Young, and saw Defendant standing next to him laughing with the .38 revolver in his hand. Young got very scared, and called Victim again. He told her that he thought Defendant and Boo might be planning on killing him, and whispered to her that he was scared and wanted her to call the police. She offered to get him $400.00. Defendant agreed to let Young go if he gave him the $400.00.
That evening, Defendant, Boo, and Young met Victim at a nearby Wal-Mart parking lot. Victim gave Boo the $400.00 then went inside the store with Young. She told Young that she had called the police and they were waiting all around the parking lot. Young got angry at her for calling the police, because of what Defendant might do to him or Victim for being a “snitch.” Defendant always made it known to everyone that snitches would be killed. After leaving the parking lot, Defendant and Boo were pulled over by the police and arrested for kidnapping.[2]Within a few days, both of them had posted bond and were released from jail.
About three weeks later, on the evening of December 28, 2004, Defendant called his girlfriend, Kristina Jones (“Jones”), and told her to come pick him up at his house. Defendant would frequently call Jones and have her pick him up and drive him to Jefferson City, where they would usually hang out with Defendant's friends at a billiards hall named “Mike's Corner Pocket” and sometimes spend the night in a motel. Jones always drove, and Defendant would tell her where to go. Defendant never wanted anything in his name and always made Jones register the motel rooms under her name. He also had her register a cell phone for him under her name.
On the evening of December 28, Jones arrived at Defendant's house around eight-thirty. Defendant and another man came out of the house and approached her car. The second man was dressed all in black, with a hooded sweatshirt drawn tight around his face. Although she had seen him many times before and knew him well, it took Jones a few seconds to recognize the man as Defendant's best friend, Darrell Turner (“Turner”). Defendant and Turner got into Jones' white Acura, and Defendant told her to “[d]rive.” When she got to the intersection where they would normally turn right to go to Jefferson City, Defendant told her to turn left toward Osage Beach. She was surprised and asked him where they were going, and he told her, “Don't worry about it.” Defendant then told her to turn onto Horseshoe Bend Parkway. Jones was growing uneasy because they had never gone this way before, and Defendant had never had someone in the car dressed so strangely. She asked Defendant again where they were going, and he said, “We are just going to scare somebody . . . no big deal, don't worry about it.” Defendant continued ordering Jones where to turn until they finally ended up in a circle drive at the end of Cornett Branch Road. Jones circled around, and Defendant told her to “keep driving.” She drove back up Cornett Branch Road the way she had come, and Defendant told her to stop in front of a wooded area. Defendant asked Turner, “Is this good?” and Turner got out of the car. Defendant told Jones to drive, and she continued driving back up Cornett Branch Road.
Defendant directed Jones to a nearby convenience store named LaFatta's, where he went inside and bought a drink. Jones kept asking Defendant what was going on, and he kept telling her not to worry about it. Defendant then directed Jones to an apartment building back in the area near Cornett Branch Road, and had her pull into a parking space and stop. Defendant was speaking calmly with someone on his cell phone, asking, “What's going on? What can you see? How are you doing? How's everything going?” After sitting in the parking lot for awhile, Defendant said, “Let's go, ” and Jones drove.
Defendant directed Jones to drive back toward Cornett Branch Road. On the way, he told her he wanted her to go knock on a door and ask for “Tammy Franklin.” Jones had never before heard that name and did not know anyone by that name. She knew she had to do what Defendant wanted, because she was too afraid of what he would do to her if she said no. Defendant directed Jones to a house on Cornett Branch Road, right before the wooded area where they had dropped off Turner. The house was Victim's, although Jones had no idea whose house it was, or who Victim was. Jones pulled into the driveway in front of the garage, next to three other cars that were parked in the driveway. She got out of the car, and Defendant got into the back seat. Jones knocked on the front door, and Victim's brother, Marcus, answered the door. Jones asked Marcus if “Tammy Franklin” was there, and he said he had no idea who she was talking about. Then Victim came to the door, and Jones also asked her if “Tammy Franklin” was there. Victim said, “No, you might want to try the next house down.” As Jones was walking away, Victim's cat ran out the door, and Marcus chased it down. He noticed Jones' white, two-door car in the driveway, which he thought was either an Acura or a Honda. Marcus took the cat back inside and Jones got back into her car.
Defendant asked Jones, “Well?” She replied that they told her Tammy wasn't there. Defendant asked, “Was she bigger?” Jones asked, “The girl?” Defendant said, “Yes, was she bigger?” Jones replied, “Yes.” Defendant said, “All right, let's go, ” and he directed her back to LaFatta's. He had Jones park in a small parking lot along the side of LaFatta's, where he made a call on his cell phone. Jones heard him say, “What's going on? Where are you at? What can you see?” He then told Jones to “just drive, ” and she drove to a nearby mini-mart where she used the bathroom. Jones again asked Defendant what was going on, and he told her not to worry about it.
Defendant then ordered Jones to drive back toward Cornett Branch Road. Defendant was attempting to make phone calls along the way, and by the time they arrived at the wooded area where Turner had gotten out of the car, Defendant was “freaking out” because he couldn't get a hold of whomever he was trying to call.
On December 28, 2004, Victim was hanging out at home with her brother Marcus and her niece and nephew, Rachel and Daniel, when Jones knocked on her door. Shortly after Jones left, Marcus left to go buy some cigarettes at LaFatta's. As he was driving up Cornett Branch Road toward LaFatta's, he saw the white Acura or Honda that he had seen earlier in the driveway pass by him heading the opposite direction. Not long after Marcus left the house, Daniel decided to leave, and Victim walked him to the door. When Daniel opened the front door, he saw a man standing in front of him pointing a gun at him-a black revolver-about a foot from his face. The man was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt pulled tight around his face. The man instructed Daniel to lie on the ground, and he obeyed. Victim was standing behind Daniel when she saw the man at the door pointing a gun at Daniel's face. She said to him, “What do you want? Do you want money?” The man asked, “Are you [Victim]?” She replied, “No, I'm her sister.” Victim thought the man was there to kill her because she had called the police on Defendant and Boo, and she thought she might be able to trick the man into thinking she was someone else. The man told her to “[g]et on the floor” and asked if there were any other people there. Victim told him Rachel was in the kitchen, but did not get on the floor right away in an attempt to stall him. Rachel came out into the entrance where the man could see her, and he instructed her and Daniel to lie down on the floor in the kitchen. He then ordered Victim to get on the floor in the kitchen doorway, and she did.
Next the man called someone on his cell phone. He said into the phone, “I don't know if it's her.” He then asked the person on the other end to “[d]escribe [Victim]” and “asked if she was a bigger girl.” Then he said, “Yeah, it's her.” He told the person, “There's kids here, ” and the person on the other end said, “Kill them all.” The man hung up the phone and yelled at Victim, “Are you trying to play me? Are you trying to play me?” Daniel then heard two gunshots. About thirty seconds later, he and Rachel ran into the garage, and Daniel called 9-1-1 from his cell phone. The next thing Victim remembered was waking up in the hospital on January 21, 2005.
Meanwhile, while Defendant was “freaking out” in the car, Jones had circled around the drive, and they were sitting in front of the wooded area, headed back up Cornett Branch Road. About thirty seconds later, Defendant connected with the person he was trying to call. Jones heard Defendant say, “You're in, you're in, ” and then, “Her name is [Victim] and she is kind of bigger.” Then he said, “There's kids in there, ” and told the person to kill them all. Defendant's window was down just a little bit, and Jones heard a gunshot. Defendant yelled, “Go!” and Jones sped up the road. As they passed Victim's house, Turner came running out of the house still dressed all in black with the hooded sweatshirt pulled tight around his face. Defendant yelled to Jones, “Stop!” and Turner got into the car. Both Defendant and Turner yelled at her, “Go!” and then Defendant looked at his cell phone and said, “11:06, I need to be made public.”
As Jones sped away, Defendant asked Turner what had happened in Victim's house. Turner said, “Two shots to the head, she's dead.” Turner told him there were kids in the house and that he had put them in a room across from the refrigerator. Defendant wanted to know if the kids had seen anything, and Turner replied, “No, everything is fine. This isn't anything to me, this is like nothing new to me.” The two then discussed whether to return to Defendant's house in Osage Beach or to go to Jefferson City, and Defendant directed Jones to drive to Jefferson City. As Jones drove on highway 54 toward Jefferson City, both Defendant and Turner yelled at her for speeding. They also discussed what they were going to do with the gun.
Defendant directed Jones to drive to a duplex in a residential neighborhood. Turner went inside the duplex and came back out wearing jeans and a t-shirt; his black clothing was gone. Defendant then directed Jones to drive them to Mike's Corner Pocket. He told her to park by the back entrance along the alleyway. Defendant and Turner had decided to put the gun in the dumpster behind “Hollywood, ” which was next to Mike's Corner Pocket.[3] Defendant and Jones got out of the car, while Turner was in the back seat “doing something with a plastic bag and newspapers[.]” Then Defendant and Jones went inside Mike's Corner Pocket and Turner walked down the alleyway. Defendant got some balls and played pool by himself in the middle of the bar, which was more visible than his usual table. Eventually Turner came inside and joined them. Defendant made a phone call, then handed Jones his pool cue and said, “I'll be right back, don't go anywhere.” He and Turner left out the front door, and Defendant returned about ten minutes later. When the bar called “last call” twenty minutes later, Defendant said, “We're going, ” and Jones followed him up to the bar. Defendant told the bartender “he had a little bit of trouble at the lake” and needed a receipt for his pool time. It was not normal practice at the bar to give out receipts, so the bartender handwrote one on a piece of paper. Defendant paid for four hours of pool time, even though he had only been there for about an hour.
Thereafter, Defendant and Jones went to a hotel. Defendant handed Jones some cash and told her to go inside and get a room. While Jones was inside registering the room in her name like usual, Defendant came in and said, “We have to change it. The room has to be in my name.” Defendant signed a new registration form, then he and Jones went to the room. Throughout most of the night, Defendant sat in a chair making calls on his cell phone. The next morning, Jones drove them back to Osage Beach and dropped Defendant off at his house. As he was getting out of the car, Defendant handed Jones the cell phone which he had made her take out in her name, and said, “You've had this for a few days.” Jones looked at him strangely, and he said, “Yes.” Jones did not see Defendant again after that.
Victim suffered a gunshot wound to the left side of her head in the temporal area-just above her hairline. There was black powder burn around the gunshot wound, indicating that she had been shot at close range. The bullet had traveled through her left and right frontal lobes and remained behind her right eye. The frontal lobes control abstract thought, emotions, and speech. Victim has a permanent speech defect, and the bullet remains in her head, because it would be too dangerous to remove. Dr. Brent Miedema, the trauma surgeon who treated Victim, stated that in his twenty-two years of experience as a trauma surgeon, he had never seen a gunshot wound like Victim's not result in a fatality.
Detectives investigating Victim's shooting recovered a bullet from underneath Victim's house after noticing a small hole in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. They also recovered a bullet from underneath Boo's trailer home. The Missouri Highway Patrol crime lab examined the bullets and determined that everything between the two bullets was consistent, and there were no dissimilarities, indicating that both bullets could have been fired from the same gun.

State v. Galbreath, 244 S.W.3d 239, 241-47 (Mo. App. 2008).

         Petitioner was charged with kidnapping Young and, regarding Victim, with acting as Turner's accomplice in committing first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, unlawful use of a weapon, and armed criminal action. The kidnapping charge was severed prior to trial and later dropped. At trial, the jury found Petitioner guilty on all four counts regarding Victim, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 235 years. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed on direct appeal, id., and again on appeal from the denial of postconviction relief, Galbreath v. State, 500 S.W.3d 867 (Mo. App. 2016). Petitioner then filed this Petition under § 2254.


         The Petition is barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Although delving deeper is unnecessary, the Court has reviewed each of Petitioner's eleven claims and concludes that they would all fail, either because they are procedurally defaulted or because they lack merit.

         I. Statute ...

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