County 14-C-732 and 17-C-643
Randy C.,  pro se, appeals the January 18, 2018,
order of the Circuit Court of Cabell County dismissing his
fifth petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his
conviction for first-degree murder. Respondent Russell Maston,
Superintendent, St. Marys Correctional Center,  by counsel
Julianne Wisman, filed a response in support of the circuit
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 orders is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
record is sparse. However, in Randy C. I, this
Court set forth the underlying facts:
Petitioner arrived in West Virginia on August 25, 1996, after
being paroled by Illinois on a conviction of armed robbery.
On August 26, 1996, petitioner's sister was murdered. On
November 4, 1996, petitioner pled guilty to the
first[-]degree murder of his sister. Consistent with the plea
agreement, the [Circuit Court of Cabell County] sentenced
petitioner to a life term of incarceration with the
possibility of parole. The circuit court committed petitioner
to the custody of the West Virginia Division of Corrections
("DOC"). On January 29, 1997, the DOC compiled a
report stating that there was evidence that in between
strangling his sister and stabbing her to death,
"[petitioner] removed his sister's clothing and
sexually assaulted her."
2016 WL 1547302, at *1. (Footnote added).
has filed five petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in the
circuit court challenging his first-degree murder conviction.
In the first habeas proceeding, the circuit court appointed
petitioner habeas counsel and held an omnibus hearing on May
24, 2006, at which petitioner's trial counsel testified.
By order entered on June 15, 2006, the circuit court denied
petitioner's first habeas petition, finding: (1) trial
counsel provided credible testimony; (2) trial counsel
testified that he discussed petitioner's rights with
petitioner and that he was satisfied petitioner understood
his rights; (3) trial counsel conducted a reasonable
investigation in that he was present at petitioner's
preliminary hearing, talked to the investigating officer, was
granted a full review of the evidence that the State intended
to produce, and was given further information about what the
State would prove at the time of the plea agreement; (4) the
court did nothing to hurry petitioner into agreeing to the
plea "as it was [petitioner]'s wish that the case be
disposed of as soon as possible[, ] and there is no evidence
alleged or proven which would show the [c]ourt was prejudiced
against [petitioner] because of his HIV status"; and (5)
at the November 4, 1996, plea hearing, petitioner gave a
factual history of how he came to West Virginia to kill his
sister and "at no time, did he indicate that he was
innocent, had a defense[, ] or was dissatisfied with his
[trial] counsel." Petitioner appealed the circuit
court's June 15, 2006, order, which this Court refused on
July 9, 2007.
filed a second habeas petition in 2006, and the circuit court
dismissed that petition by order entered on November 20,
2006. Petitioner did not appeal the November 20, 2006, order.
In 2010, petitioner filed a third habeas petition, and the
circuit court dismissed that petition by order entered on
January 28, 2010. Petitioner appealed the circuit court's
January 28, 2010, order, which this Court refused on June 22,
petitioner's fourth habeas proceeding, the circuit court
held a hearing on June 4, 2015. The circuit court heard
petitioner's testimony and confirmed that he had a
previous and full opportunity to raise any habeas grounds he
THE COURT: . . . The standard I have to apply today is what,
if any, new grounds or new information [have] not been
previously adjudicated by [the circuit court] in various
earlier cases that [it] had considered. I guess [habeas
counsel] filed a habeas [petition] at some point for you. Is
that the one you had the hearing in? Did you come to this
courthouse at some point and have a hearing similar to this?
[Petitioner]: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: And[, ] that you then argue[d] that you had
ineffective assistance ...