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Sanders v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

April 29, 2015

KEIR D. SANDERS (#139272), Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, ET AL., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on the pro se petition of Keir D. Sanders for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The State has responded to the petition; Sanders has filed a traverse, and the State has replied to the traverse. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus will be denied.

Facts and Procedural Posture

Sanders is in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and is currently housed in the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. Keir Sanders was indicted for the December 29, 1985, murders of his grandmother and grandfather. The crimes occurred in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, but, when Sanders was finally apprehended (over 20 years later), the court changed the venue to Lafayette County. The proceedings in Lafayette County ended in a mistrial (hung jury), and the court changed venue again to Lee County, Mississippi. S.C.R., Vol. 4, pg. 544. There, a jury found that, with regard to the murder of his grandfather (Count I), Sanders was not guilty by reason of insanity, but had not been restored to reason and remained dangerous to the community. S.C.R., Vol. 5, pg. 704. With regard to the murder of his grandmother (Count II), Sanders was found guilty. S.C.R., Vol. 5, pg. 706. As to the conviction on Count II, Sanders was sentenced, as a habitual offender, to serve a term of life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, without the possibility of parole. S.C.R., Vol. 5, pg. 712. Sanders is incarcerated under this sentence. Further, on Count I, Sanders was "ordered conveyed to and confined in the Mississippi State Hospital, at Whitfield, Mississippi, or at such other state asylum for the insane as shall be determined by the appropriate officer of the state and shall remain there until he shall have been restored to sanity." Id. However, Sanders' confinement as to Count I was ordered "delayed until such time as it shall be invoked by this Court as a result of the defendant being discharged from custody by the Mississippi Department of Corrections from incarceration as provided in the sentence imposed in Count II of the indictment." Id. The sentencing order further stated:

It is the intent of this Court that the defendant remain in the custody of the Department of Corrections for life pursuant to Sec. 99-18-[81]. I[f] for any reason, because of change in the law or otherwise, the defendant is released from Mississippi Department of Corrections custody, he shall be immediately placed in an asylum of the State of Mississippi.

Id. at 713.

Sanders appealed his conviction and sentence to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which assigned the case to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, where he raised the following grounds for relief, through counsel:

I. The verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and the trial court erred in denying Sanders' motion for a new trial.
II. The trial court erred in giving the State's jury instruction on flight, as the defense provided an independent reason for Sanders' flight.
III. The trial court erred in admitting gruesome autopsy photographs (Exhibits S-24, S-25, S-26) into evidence.
IV. The trial court erred in ordering Sanders to serve his sentence of incarceration pursuant to Count II before Sanders could be conveyed to the State Mental Hospital pursuant to Count I.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's acquittal by reason of insanity and order of confinement on Count I - and the conviction and sentence on Count II. Sanders v. State, 63 So.3d 554 (Miss. App. 2010), reh'g. denied July 27, 2010 (Cause No. 2008-KA-01145-COA).

Sanders sought a writ of certiorari in the Mississippi Supreme Court, on Issues I, II, and IV as raised in his appellate brief. On November 4, 2010, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari review. Sanders v. State, 49 So.3d 1139 (Table) (Miss. 2010)(Cause No. 2008-CT-01445-SCT). After considering the arguments of the parties, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and the Tishomingo County Circuit Court. Sanders v. State, 63 So.3d 497 (Miss. 2011), reh'g. denied June 30, 2011 (Cause No. 2008-CT-01145-SCT). Neither the state court record nor the docket of the United States Supreme Court, as available on their website, reflects that Sanders sought certiorari review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

After the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision, Sanders filed an application under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-1, et seq., seeking leave to proceed in the trial court with a motion for postconviction collateral relief, raising the following grounds, pro se:

I. The State denied Petitioner his right to a fair and impartial jury.
II. The State subjected Petitioner to prosecutorial misconduct, vindictive and selective prosecution and as a result he was denied his constitutional rights to an impartial jury and a fair trial.
III. Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to an unbiased judge and as a result also denied ...

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