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Lloyd v. Terry

Supreme Court of West Virginia

March 14, 2018

Billy Ray Lloyd, Jr., Petitioner Below, Petitioner
v.
Ralph Terry, Acting Warden, Mt. Olive Correctional Complex, Respondent Below, Respondent

         Harrison County 15-C-191-3

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         In 2013, Petitioner Billy Ray Lloyd, Jr., broke into the home of an elderly woman at night armed with a knife, threatened to kill her, slashed her hand, and took cash and jewelry. He was charged with four felonies and ultimately pled guilty to first degree robbery and assault during the commission of a felony. In 2015, Petitioner filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus and raised an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Circuit Court of Harrison County denied relief, finding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). See State v. Miller, 194 W.Va. 3, 459 S.E.2d 114');">459 S.E.2d 114 (1995) (adopting Strickland standard).

         On appeal to this Court, Petitioner contends his trial counsel should have pursued an insanity defense because Petitioner's drug addiction was so severe that he was unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. Respondent Ralph Terry, Acting Warden, Mt. Olive Correctional Complex[1] (the "State"), counters that Petitioner's counsel acted objectively reasonable in all aspects of the underlying proceedings. Moreover, the State asserts that mere narcotics addiction, standing alone, cannot support an insanity defense.

         The Court has considered the parties' briefs, oral argument, and the record on appeal.[2]We find no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. Therefore, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the West Virginia Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. The Crimes

         On March 25, 2013, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Petitioner broke into the home of eighty-eight-year-old Mrs. Libby Stout, armed with a knife. He said "get the damn money, get the damn money you know where it is[, ] you get it or I'm going to kill you[.]" During the altercation, the victim's hand was slashed with the knife and she suffered a deep laceration; there was blood on the floor and furnishings throughout the home. Petitioner took cash and jewelry that he later sold at a pawnshop. After Petitioner left, the victim called emergency services and she was taken to an area hospital.

         Police officers obtained a statement from the victim at the hospital and she readily identified Petitioner as the perpetrator. She reported that Petitioner came "bursting into the house through the front door." The victim indicated that she did not know why Petitioner would do this to her as she was previously his landlord and thought they were friends. She feared for her life: "I thought surely he was going to kill me." The victim said Petitioner was "just going wild" and kept saying that he loved her. The officer asked why he would say that and the victim replied, "well he always said it" when he would visit her in the afternoon.

         Police officers arrested Petitioner the following day. Police officers noticed a pickup truck parked at a local Go Mart. Petitioner was sitting in the vehicle as a passenger and his friend, Brian Yeager, was sitting in the driver's seat; Mr. Yeager's girlfriend, Tina Carroll, was using a payphone. On the way to jail, Petitioner stated, "boy when I do it, I do it big" and that "he just wanted to do his 15 years and be done with it." According to Petitioner, he committed the crimes because he was "homeless and needed drugs."

         Mr. Yeager told police that he and his girlfriend picked up Petitioner at a local McDonald's and gave him a ride to the Go Mart. In exchange, Petitioner gave Mr. Yeager a ring. Mr. Yeager gave the police permission to search his vehicle, and they found a blue velvet bag that contained several pieces of the victim's jewelry. Mr. Yeager stated that before going to Go Mart, he and Petitioner went to a pawnshop. Petitioner told Mr. Yeager that he did not have any identification and needed Mr. Yeager to sell some jewelry.

         B. Indictments, Guilty Plea, and Sentence

         A grand jury indicted Petitioner on four felony offenses: burglary, robbery in the first degree, assault during the commission of a felony, and grand larceny. Petitioner-who has an extensive criminal history-faced life imprisonment if he were convicted of these crimes and the State successfully pursued a recidivist information. The circuit court appointed an experienced criminal defense attorney, Jack Clark with the Harrison County Public Defenders' Office, to represent Petitioner.

         Counsel entered into plea negotiations with the State at Petitioner's request. In June 2013, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of first degree robbery and one count of assault during the commission of a felony. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the two other felony charges, not file a recidivist information against Petitioner, and stand silent during sentencing.

          During the plea hearing, Petitioner admitted to knowingly and purposefully robbing and assaulting Mrs. Stout, his friend and ex-landlord. Petitioner stated that he could not remember everything that happened but that he remembered taking jewelry and cutting her with the knife. He stated that he knew what he was doing was wrong but did it anyway. Petitioner stated that he was under the influence of bath salts. The circuit court asked Petitioner if he had "ever been treated or hospitalized for addiction to the use of any alcohol or drugs?" Petitioner responded in the affirmative and stated that he had on one occasion. Petitioner also stated that he had previously been diagnosed as "bipolar" but was not taking any medication for the condition. As part of the court's colloquy, Petitioner stated that he understood the various statutory penalties for each criminal conviction and for each count charged in the indictment. Petitioner confirmed that he felt counsel properly represented him and he was satisfied with the plea agreement.

         Petitioner did not speak on his own behalf at the sentencing hearing.[3] The circuit court considered the presentence investigation report that included Petitioner's statement: "I was strung out on drugs and homeless. I needed drugs. My victim was not to be at home that night, so I went to get money and she was home." The report indicated Petitioner began using drugs at the age of thirteen and continued up through the present. In the eighteen-month period preceding the crimes, Petitioner regularly abused bath salts. Petitioner was evaluated at Sharpe Hospital in 2000, but no diagnosis was made. Petitioner's parents sent a letter to the court that addressed his history of substance abuse and loss of consciousness when under the influence.

         The circuit court sentenced Petitioner to a determinate sentence of forty years for the conviction of robbery in the first degree and an indeterminate sentence of not less than two nor more than ten for the conviction of assault during the commission of a felony. The court ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

         C. Habeas Corpus Proceeding

         In May 2015, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus and advanced one ground, ineffective assistance of counsel. After he was appointed counsel, Petitioner filed an amended petition in August 2015. The issue relevant here is Petitioner's assertion that his trial counsel was ineffective because he did not advise him of or pursue an insanity defense.

         The circuit court conducted an omnibus hearing in October 2015. Petitioner, trial counsel, and Petitioner's stepmother testified. Counsel testified that he has practiced as a criminal defense attorney for approximately eleven years and has represented hundreds of clients. Counsel stated that he met with Petitioner approximately five times during the case and Petitioner explained his version of the events and admitted to the charges. Petitioner did not tell his counsel that he could not remember all of the details of the events but did say that he was under the influence of bath salts at the time of the crimes. Petitioner did not tell counsel that he was still under the influence at the time of the arrest or that he went through withdrawal during incarceration. Petitioner asked counsel to plead guilty at the preliminary hearing, but counsel explained that he could not plead that day but promised to speak to the prosecutor. After the preliminary hearing, counsel conducted an investigation, including reviewing the discovery in the matter, having several discussions with Petitioner, speaking with law enforcement, and speaking with Petitioner's mother. Prior to the plea hearing, counsel reviewed the plea agreement with Petitioner and went through it paragraph by paragraph. Counsel testified that he did not at the time, and still did not, believe that Petitioner had any affirmative defenses because "[Petitioner] knew what he was doing and was criminally responsible for his actions, and was taking responsibility for his actions." Counsel explained that he has had competency evaluations completed on clients in the past that he thought might not be competent to stand trial and/or to determine criminal responsibility as well. However, Petitioner "was always oriented as to time and place. He was always cooperative and able to fully engage with [counsel] in discussing the case. That led [counsel] to believe that [Petitioner] knew what he was doing. He knew what was going on, and [counsel] had no reason to believe that [Petitioner] was insane." Counsel stated that at no point, even to this day, has Petitioner claimed that he was so intoxicated on bath salts that he could not remember a thing about committing the crimes. Counsel stated that he was very concerned about recidivism in this case and it was "near the top of the list of things" to try to prevent.

         Petitioner testified that he had injected approximately eight grams of bath salts into his neck prior to committing the crimes. He stated that counsel did not discuss with him the possibility of an insanity defense. Had he known about a possible insanity defense, he would want to withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial on all four counts in the original indictment, even knowing that he would face the risk of the State filing a recidivist information against him and, ultimately, he would face a life sentence. Petitioner stated that he knew what he was doing was wrong at the time but testified that "to the best of his recollection" he could not stop himself. He stated that he believed at the time of the acts he was suffering from some kind of mental problem that made him unable to stop himself. He discussed several instances of previous mental health issues that he at no point discussed with counsel, nor did he disclose them during the plea colloquy or at sentencing. Asked if he feels like he is mentally ill, Petitioner responded "[s]ometimes."

         Petitioner's stepmother, Stephanie Lloyd, testified that she wrote a letter to the court after Petitioner was sentenced because she thought he received "a lot of time" considering his problems. About a month or two before the crimes, she and Petitioner's father discussed obtaining a mental hygiene petition on Petitioner following an incident when he was hallucinating. An ambulance came, but Petitioner refused to go get help. Mrs. Lloyd stated "he was really a mess." However, Mrs. Lloyd admitted that she never mentioned mental health concerns with Petitioner's counsel and did not speak at the sentencing hearing.

         Petitioner presented no expert witness in the criminal defense field who criticized counsel's representation of Petitioner in any way, nor disputed counsel's opinion concerning the lack of a bona fide affirmative defense. Petitioner also presented no clinical or medical evidence demonstrating any ...


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