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Scott v. Vannoy

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

September 16, 2019




         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.



         This matter is before the Court on the petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 as supplemented. The petitioner, Kendale Scott, challenges his conviction, entered in 2013 in the Twentieth Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Feliciana, State of Louisiana, on one count of second degree murder. The petitioner contends that (1) the state appellate court failed to fully address his assignment of error regarding the improper admission of other crimes evidence, (2) the state appellate court applied the wrong standard when considering his error regarding the failure to grant a mistrial, (3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to statements made by the prosecutor regarding eyewitness testimony during opening statements, and (4) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence.

         Factual Background

         The facts, as accurately summarized in the decision of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal (State v. Scott, 13-2061 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/2/14), 2014 WL 3843865), are as follows: In June 2012, the petitioner lived with Lisa Keller (his girlfriend), three of her children, her mother (Katherine Hartman-the victim), and Naomi Wheat. They all resided in the victim's trailer on Highland Drive in Ethel. The petitioner and the victim had previously had disagreements and altercations, including one incident around May 12, 2012, in which defendant allegedly struck the victim several times.

         On June 24, 2012, the petitioner was at the Highland Drive residence with Wheat, Keller's children, the victim, and Shedrick Law, a visiting friend. Keller was working at an area nursing home. In the afternoon, the victim fell asleep on a sofa in the living room. Shortly thereafter, the petitioner retrieved his .22 caliber rifle from the rear of the house and entered the living room with it. He instructed Law to take the children outside to play. Law complied, and within a few minutes, he and the children heard a gunshot. Upon hearing the shot, Law walked to the trailer and observed the petitioner still holding the rifle.

         Upon reentering the house, Keller's teenage son saw his grandmother's body on the couch in the living room. She was dead from a gunshot wound to her forehead. The petitioner instructed him to help Wheat clean the sofa and wrap the victim in blankets and plastic garbage bags. Keller's son complied, and he subsequently accompanied the petitioner and Law to dump the victim's body at an isolated location off Lane Road in Ethel.

         On June 26, 2012, Lisa Keller filed a missing persons report with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office. During his investigation of that report, Detective Kevin Garig received information from both a concerned citizen and a confidential informant that led him to believe that the victim had been murdered. On July 6, 2012, Detective Garig executed a search warrant on the residence, and he interviewed everyone present at the home. Following those interviews, he located the victim's body where it had been dumped. He subsequently arrested the petitioner, Keller, Wheat, and Law for the victim's murder.

         Procedural History

         After a trial by jury conducted in July and August, 2013, the petitioner was found guilty of second degree murder. The petitioner was sentenced on August 20, 2013, to life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. The petitioner thereafter appealed his conviction through his attorney.

         On May 2, 2014, the petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit. See State v. Scott, 13-2067 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/2/14), 2014 WL 38438659. The petitioner's application for supervisory review in the Louisiana Supreme Court was denied on January 9, 2015 and certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 8, ...

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