Jason William Holstein, pro se, appeals the April 19, 2016,
order of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County dismissing his
petition for a writ of habeas corpus without prejudice
pursuant to Rule 4(c) of the West Virginia Rules Governing
Post-Conviction Habeas Corpus Proceedings. Respondent David
Ballard, Warden, Mount Olive Correctional Complex, by counsel
Shannon Frederick Kiser, filed a summary response in support
of the circuit court's order. Petitioner filed a reply.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
January 19, 2009, petitioner and co-defendants Larry Cantrell
and Joshua Taylor traveled to the home of David Scarbro in
Chelyan, West Virginia, with the intent to rob him of drugs
and money. The trio was armed with a handgun and a sawed-off
shotgun. Petitioner and Mr. Cantrell obtained these weapons
from a third-party after which they modified the shotgun in
preparation for the instant crimes.
the course of the robbery, Mr. Scarbro was repeatedly struck
with the guns, causing him to suffer gaping wounds to his
head, face, and other areas of his body, and he was
repeatedly kicked in the ribs. The victim's wife returned
home as the robbery was proceeding. Mrs. Scarbro reported
that, as she neared the residence, she heard her husband
arguing with a man. After she began beating on the front
door, it opened, and she was pulled inside the home and
thrown into a chair. Two masked men and her husband then ran
onto the porch, at which time she heard two gun shots. Mrs.
Scarbro found her husband lying motionless on the porch. Mr.
Scarbro had been shot once in the back at close range and
died at the scene from his injuries. Mrs. Scarbro did not
know who shot her husband.
an investigation by the Kanawha County Sheriff's
Department, petitioner, Mr. Cantrell, and Mr. Taylor were
arrested. According to Mr. Cantrell, petitioner would not
stop saying that "[petitioner] finally got one, talking
about killing someone." When Mr. Taylor was questioned
by authorities, he stated that, as he ran out of the
victim's home, he saw petitioner shoot Mr. Scarbro as he
lay face down on the porch. In contrast, petitioner denied
shooting Mr. Scarbro, reporting instead that Mr. Taylor said
that the gun "just went off."
three men were indicted on two counts of breaking and
entering, one count of attempted armed robbery, and one count
of first-degree murder (felony murder). Mr. Cantrell and Mr.
Taylor each pled guilty to first-degree felony murder, and
both were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility
April 12, 2010, petitioner entered into a plea agreement with
the State, in which he agreed to plead guilty to first-degree
felony murder. In return, the State agreed to dismiss the
other counts in the indictment and to stand silent at
sentencing. Later this same day, a plea hearing was held
before the circuit court. During this hearing, the petitioner
testified that he read, reviewed, and discussed the plea
agreement with his attorney prior to signing the agreement.
The attorney confirmed this joint review and expressed his
belief that the plea was in petitioner's best interest.
The circuit court asked petitioner whether he understood the
crimes he was charged with committing. Petitioner responded
affirmatively. When questioned about his education,
petitioner stated that he had a high school diploma and
attended barber college.
informed the circuit court that he was diagnosed with bipolar
disorder; however, the circuit court observed that petitioner
met with his attorney for approximately three hours that
morning and asked whether counsel found petitioner to be
"lucid" and whether he understood the purpose of
the plea hearing. In response, the attorney described
petitioner as "lucid and knows where he is and why
we're here and what he's doing."
Petitioner's attorney also responded affirmatively when
asked whether petitioner was "oriented as to time and
place" and able "to recall past events."
his contact and collaboration with his client,
petitioner's attorney stated he reviewed discovery
received from the State and discussed all counts in the
indictment with petitioner and the defense to be presented
based on that evidence. Petitioner's attorney further
stated that he hired an investigator to interview witnesses,
served subpoenas, and was prepared to go to trial if that was
response to the circuit court's inquiry, petitioner
stated that he was completely satisfied with his
attorney's representation. Specifically, when the circuit
court asked petitioner if his attorney did everything he
wanted the attorney to do, petitioner answered,
"[h]e's done everything I asked." Furthermore,
when the circuit court queried whether petitioner's
attorney entered into plea negotiations "with your
permission and consent, " petitioner responded,
"Yes ma'am. He did." Petitioner explained that
he had his attorney "consult with my family on my
behalf, and we feel that this is probably for the best."
Petitioner further testified, as follows:
Q. Has anyone promised you a lenient sentence or made any
promise to you other than as set forth in the . . . plea
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Has anyone threatened, intimidated, coerced or pressured
you in any manner to give up your constitutional ...