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Nathan v. Lewis

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

September 20, 2019

LED ALE NATHAN, Petitioner,
v.
JASON LEWIS, et al, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DAVID D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of petitioner Ledale Nathan, by and through counsel, to stay and hold in abeyance his petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Docket No. 6). For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

         Background

         Following a jury trial on April 11, 2011, petitioner was convicted of twenty-six criminal counts: one count of first-degree murder; thirteen counts of armed criminal action; five counts of kidnapping; four counts of first-degree robbery; two counts of first-degree assault; and one count of first-degree burglary. State of Missouri v. Nathan, No. 1022-CR01659 (22nd Cir., St. Louis City).[1] However, the circuit court subsequently dismissed counts IX, X, XXIII, and XXIV for lack of jurisdiction. The circuit court determined that these four counts, representing offenses against victim Rosemary Whitrock, were never before the juvenile court, and thus could not be transferred to the circuit court.[2] Petitioner was sentenced to life without probation or parole on the first-degree murder count, and also received sentences ranging from fifteen years to life on the remaining twenty-one counts.

         On direct appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court remanded the first-degree murder conviction for resentencing in light of the holding in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a juvenile offender was unconstitutional. State v. Nathan, 404 S.W.3d 253, 269-71 (Mo. 2013). The Missouri Supreme Court explained that on remand, if the sentencer "was persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt" that life without parole for first-degree murder was appropriate, the sentence was constitutional and must be imposed. Id. at 270-71. However, if the sentencer was not convinced that life without parole was appropriate, then the circuit court was required to enter a finding of guilt on second-degree murder, and enter a sentence accordingly. Id. at 271. The Missouri Supreme Court also determined that the circuit court had improperly dismissed the four Whitrock counts, and remanded those counts for sentencing. Id. at 259-60.

         On November 18, 2013, after the Missouri Supreme Court ordered resentencing, but before said resentencing could take place, petitioner filed his first postconviction motion pursuant to Mo. S.Ct. R. 29.15. Nathan v. State of Missouri, No. 1322-CC09963 (22nd Cir., St. Louis City). The motion challenged the twenty-one counts that had been affirmed by the Missouri Supreme Court in State v. Nathan, 404 S.W.3d 253 (Mo. 2013).

         On July 25, 2014, the circuit court resentenced petitioner to life imprisonment for second-degree murder. Petitioner was also sentenced on the four Whitrock counts. State of Missouri v. Nathan, No. 1022-CR01659 (22nd Cir., St. Louis City). He filed a notice of appeal on July 30, 2014.

         While that appeal was pending, the circuit court denied petitioner's Rule 29.15 motion on August 1, 2016. Nathan v. State of Missouri, No. 1322-CC09963 (22nd Cir., St. Louis City). Petitioner filed a notice of appeal on August 16, 2016.

         On November 17, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the sentencing decisions made by the circuit court with regard to petitioner's convictions for second-degree murder and the four Whitrock counts. State v. Nathan, 2015 WL 725338, at *1 (Mo. App. 2015). The case was ordered transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court on April 5, 2016. Thereafter, on July 11, 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court. State v. Nathan, 522 S.W.3d881, 894(Mo.2017).

         Petitioner filed a second motion for postconviction relief on October 13, 2017. Nathan v. State of Missouri, No. 1722-CC11525 (22nd Cir., St. Louis City). The second motion for postconviction relief pertained to the murder count and the four Whitrock counts.

         Meanwhile, petitioner's appeal of the denial of his first postconviction motion was affirmed by the Missouri Court of Appeals on June 19, 2018. Nathan v. State, 556 S.W.3d 99, 100 (Mo. App. 2018). Petitioner's motion for rehearing and/or transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court was denied on July 24, 2018. His application for transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court was denied on September 25, 2018. The mandate was issued September 28, 2018.

         Petitioner's second postconviction proceeding, regarding the murder count and the four Whitrock counts, is still pending before the circuit court.

         The instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was filed by petitioner's counsel on September 3, 2019. (Docket No. 1). A motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was also filed. (Docket No. 2). On September 5, 2019, petitioner's counsel filed a motion to stay proceedings until disposition of his second ...


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