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Shultz v. Ballard

Supreme Court of West Virginia

October 20, 2017

Jeremy Lyle Shultz, Petitioner Below, Petitioner
David Ballard, Warden, Mount Olive Correctional Complex, Respondent Below, Respondent

         Kanawha County 13-P-362


         Petitioner Jeremy Lyle Shultz, by counsel Edward L. Bullman, appeals the Circuit Court of Kanawha County's "Final Order, " entered on September 2, 2016, denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent David Ballard, Warden, Mount Olive Correctional Complex, by counsel David A. Stackpole, filed a response.

         This 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.

         In 2011, a jury convicted petitioner of kidnapping, first-degree robbery, and conspiracy. The victim of petitioner's crimes was Danny Nance, who was employed by Prestige Delivery Service to deliver pharmaceuticals to medical clinics in the Kanawha County area. The evidence at trial revealed that in the morning of April 27, 2010, the victim had delivered pharmaceuticals to Cabin Creek Health Clinic when a man, later identified as petitioner, stopped him as he exited the clinic. Petitioner directed the victim at gunpoint to get into his delivery van and the two proceeded to Sharon Hollow. Once at Sharon Hollow, petitioner and the victim came upon a white van with James Gravely and Sherri Sampson Gravely inside. They took the victim's cellular phone and threw his keys on the ground; bound the victim's hands and feet with plastic ties; took the remaining pharmaceuticals from the victim's delivery van and put them in the white van; and drove away in the van. After a short time, the victim freed himself and found his keys. He drove to the Cabin Creek Health Clinic and called the police.

         State Police Trooper Scott Pettry reported to the clinic and interviewed the victim. Trooper Pettry then contacted Detective Don Scurlock, who had been involved in an ongoing investigation regarding medication theft in the area. The investigation led to a man named Curtis Wilson, who owned a white van matching the description given by the victim.[1] Mr. Wilson informed the police that he loaned his van to petitioner on the Monday before the robbery and that he owed a drug debt to petitioner in the amount of approximately $5, 000, which would be cancelled if he allowed petitioner to borrow the van.

         Detective Scurlock had identified petitioner as a person of interest in his investigation. Trooper Pettry compiled a photo lineup and presented it to the victim, and the victim identified petitioner as the man who ordered him into his delivery van and drove him to Sharon Hollow. The victim indicated that petitioner was wearing a dark-colored coat with a hood over his head; however, his face was exposed. Additionally, at trial, the victim was able to identify tattoos on petitioner's arm because petitioner had pushed his sleeves up while driving the delivery van.

         Police also interviewed Mr. Gravely, who was incarcerated on an unrelated charge. Mr. Gravely admitted to his involvement in the crimes and implicated petitioner and Ms. Sampson Gravely, his ex-wife, as well. Mr. Gravely told the police that he and Ms. Sampson waited in Mr. Curtis' van while petitioner kidnapped the victim. Mr. Gravely stated that Ms. Sampson stayed in the van while he and petitioner transferred the pharmaceuticals from the victim's van. Finally, Mr. Gravely specified the location where they threw stolen totes and pharmaceuticals over a hillside. Trooper Pettry went to the location and found totes, ointments, and creams; however, police never recovered the stolen narcotic drugs. Trooper Pettry then arrested petitioner, who denied any involvement in the crimes. Petitioner was scheduled to be released from parole on or about the day of his arrest.[2]

         Mr. Gravely and Ms. Sampson pled guilty under plea agreements. At petitioner's trial, however, Mr. Gravely did not implicate petitioner in the crimes; rather, he testified that he and Ms. Sampson waited in the white van for the drugs to arrive, but was unaware of the identity of the third person involved. Mr. Gravely admitted that he named petitioner when interviewed by Trooper Pettry, but claimed he did so only because Trooper Pettry promised him that he would not be implicated if he named petitioner. Trooper Pettry denied pressuring Mr. Gravely to implicate petitioner.

         In his defense, petitioner intended to call an alibi witness, Paul Martin. Mr. Martin reported to the courthouse under a subpoena, but left prior to testifying due to an alleged illness. Alicia Slater, petitioner's girlfriend, testified that petitioner returned home around 2:30 a.m. from Columbus, Ohio, on the morning of the robbery and did not leave the house until 11:30 a.m. Like Mr. Gravely, Ms. Sampson did not implicate petitioner. She testified that Mr. Gravely was the man who kidnapped the victim, and that she and another man, Mikey Ward, waited in Mr. Curtis' white van for the drugs to arrive. She testified that petitioner had no involvement in the crimes. Finally, petitioner testified and denied any involvement in the crimes. Petitioner claimed that he had been in Columbus, Ohio until 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the crimes; denied that he had ever been charged with any drug-related crimes in the past; and denied that he would do anything to jeopardize his impending release from parole.

         Petitioner also called Dr. David Clayman, psychologist, to testify as an expert in the field of eyewitness identification. Dr. Clayman was unfamiliar with the specific facts of the case. The aim of his testimony was to address, generally, the problems that can occur with eyewitness identifications and photographic lineups. However, contrary to petitioner's theory of defense, Dr. Clayman opined that, when a victim identifies a perpetrator from a photographic lineup given only one day after an incident, the likelihood of contamination is low.

         The jury convicted petitioner of kidnapping and recommended that he receive mercy. The jury also convicted petitioner of first-degree robbery and conspiracy. The circuit court sentenced petitioner to life in prison, with mercy, for kidnapping, to run consecutively with a ten-year term for first-degree robbery and a one to five-year term for conspiracy. Petitioner appealed to this Court, which affirmed the convictions. State v. Shultz, No. 11-1494, 2013 WL 1632517 (W.Va. Apr. 16, 2013) (memorandum decision).[3]

         In July of 2013, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which he amended in August of 2014. He alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective as evidenced by his (1) introduction of petitioner's prior felony conviction, parole status, and other bad character evidence at trial; (2) failure to object to the use of impeachment evidence as evidence of guilt and failing to request a Caudill [4] instruction as to the proper weight to be given to a guilty plea by a co-defendant; (3) failure to object to the display of petitioner's tattoo; (4) failure to investigate the testimony of Dr. David Clayman; (5) failure to present Paul Martin as an alibi witness; (6) failure to object to the State commenting upon petitioner's post-arrest Miranda silence; and (7) failure to conduct an adequate voir dire.[5] Petitioner also alleged that he was denied a fair trial as a result of the cumulative effect of these errors. Petitioner subsequently amended his petition to claim an Apprendi [6] violation of his Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury[7] and to allege that the trial court erred in its determination of mitigating sentencing factors under West Virginia Code § 61-2-14a(b)(3) and (4).

         The circuit court held an omnibus hearing on December 14, 2015, at which Paul Martin, petitioner, and John Mitchell Jr. (petitioner's trial counsel) testified. Mr. Martin testified that he was unable to testify at petitioner's trial because he was suffering from walking pneumonia and bronchitis. He claimed that he and petitioner were together in Columbus, Ohio until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the crimes, and that he spent that night at petitioner's residence. Petitioner testified that he did not consent to his counsel calling Dr. Clayman as a witness and that his counsel did not involve him in or explain any of the strategic decisions made in his defense. Mr. Mitchell testified that his theory of defense was that petitioner did not commit the crimes and had nothing to hide, which explained his decision not to object to the display of petitioner's tattoo and the references to petitioner's parole status. Mr. Mitchell adopted the strategy that petitioner would not have involved himself in the crimes because it would jeopardize his impending release from parole. Mr. Mitchell testified that petitioner consented to proceeding without Mr. Martin's testimony, rather than seeking a continuance of the trial. Finally, Mr. Mitchell testified that he spoke with Dr. Clayman prior to his testimony and was aware that not all of Dr. Clayman's testimony was favorable, but was willing to call him as a witness anyway in order to overcome the victim's eyewitness identification of petitioner.

         By order entered on September 2, 2016, the circuit court denied the habeas petition, and this appeal followed. This Court reviews appeals of circuit court orders denying ...

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