United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the pro se petition
of Glenn Wane Hawkins for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The State has responded to the
petition, and Mr. Hawkins has submitted a 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.
petitioner, Glenn Wane Hawkins, is in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections and is currently housed
at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in
Leakesville, Mississippi. Hawkins was convicted of one count
of depraved heart murder in the Circuit Court of Monroe
County, Mississippi. On February 24, 2011, he was sentenced
to serve life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”). State Court Record
(“SCR”), Vol. 2, p. 219.
appealed his conviction and sentence to the Mississippi
Supreme Court raising the following issues through counsel:
Issue 1. Whether the evidence was sufficient
to sustain the jury's verdict of depraved heart murder.
Issue 2. Whether the jury was properly
instructed on the distinctions between depraved heart murder
and culpable negligence manslaughter and whether the trial
court erred in failing to declare a mistrial when it was
apparent that the jury was confused on the definitions of
“depraved heart” as opposed to “culpable
negligence.” On September 20, 2012, the Mississippi
Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
Hawkins v. State, 101 So.3d 638 (Miss. 2012),
reh'g denied, Dec. 13, 2012 (No.
2011-KA-00557-SCT). Hawkins did not file a petition for writ
of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
28, 2013, Hawkins filed an “Application for Leave to
File Motion for Post Conviction Relief” in the
Mississippi Supreme Court, signed on June 26, 2013, raising
the following issues pro se:
Issue 1. The State failed to present sufficient evidence in
order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the essential
element of “criminal agency” necessary to
establish the “corpus delicti” of a homicide to
the exclusion of every other reasonable hypothesis.
Issue 2. The trial court err[ed]where the Judge allowed the
State to present the issue of self-defense through jury
instruction in which [diverted] the jury's attention away
from and nullified the defendant's true theory of defense
“excusable homicide.” And [counsel] were
deficient for giving up objections concerning this issue
which prejudiced defendant.
Issue 3. The trial court committed reversible error by
granting inadequate and incomplete jury instructions.
October 9, 2013, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied the
application. (Case No. 2013-M-01113). The court found that
Hawkins' claims regarding the sufficiency of the evidence
were barred under the doctrine of res judicata.
Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-21(3). Further, the court found
that Hawkins' claims regarding the weight of the evidence
and the jury instructions were without merit - and
procedurally barred under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-21(1)
(failure to raise objections at trial or on appeal). The
court held that Hawkins' claim of ineffective assistance
of counsel failed both prongs of Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Id.
raises the following grounds for relief in the instant
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (as restated by the court
in the interest of brevity and clarity):
Ground One. The State failed to present sufficient evidence
as to each element of depraved heart murder to prove
Hawkins' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Ground Two. Trial court erred giving inadequate jury
instructions on the distinction between depraved heart murder
and culpable negligence manslaughter.
Ground Three. Trial counsel provided ineffective assistance
because he had no experience with murder cases, and depraved
heart murder is a charge seldom brought in Mississippi.
Established at Trial
February 22-23, 2011, Glenn Wane Hawkins was tried for the
murder of Ms. Rita Fair, which occurred on or about August
16, 2007. Attorneys Christopher E. Bauer and Timothy B.
Tucker represented Mr. Hawkins. The trial court held a
suppression hearing prior to trial regarding the Hawkin's
statement at the crime scene. SCR, Vol. 3, p. 27-61. After
hearing from Deputy John Bishop and Hawkins, the trial court
found that the Hawkins' statement at the crime scene was
admissible. SCR, Vol. 3, p. 61-64. The court found that, at
the time of the statement, Hawkins had not been arrested,
detained, or taken into custody, and his utterance to law
enforcement was spontaneous.
suppression hearing, Deputy Bishop testified that, when he
arrived at the crime scene, he was met by Hawkins at the
front door. SCR, Vol. 3, p. 40. Bishop then asked Hawkins
“what's going on, man?” Id. Hawkins
answered by saying that “he killed her, ” then
clarified that by saying “he killed Rita, ” the
trial, Deputy Curtis Knight testified that, when he arrived
at the crime scene, he found Ms. Fair's body lying in a
doorway. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 187. She was face-up on her back,
and “had sustained severe trauma to her face, neck and
her arms.” SCR, Vol. 4, p. 188. Knight determined that
the victim had recently had a full hysterectomy. Id.
He then testified that photographs taken of the victim in the
doorway were a “fair and accurate depiction” of
the scene as he observed it on August 16, 2007. SCR, Vol. 4,
p. 188-189. Knight testified that the victim's
right eye, as shown in photograph was “extremely
swollen shut and discolored, ” and there was
“blood” visible on her nose. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 197.
She also had marks “around her neck” and on her
arms. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 190. Knight believed these injuries to
be indicative of “possible defensive wounds”
indicating that the victim was trying to defend herself prior
to her death. Id.
in custody, Hawkins stated, without being asked, that
“she stabbed me.” Upon Examining Hawkins'
chest, Knight found “two scratch marks.” SCR,
Vol. 4, p. 193. Knight stated that Exhibit 4, the photograph
of the Hawkin's chest, was an accurate depiction of the
scratches that day. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 194. There was no knife
was anywhere at the crime scene. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 191. Knight
also testified that the scratches appeared to be several days
old, as he observed “festering.” SCR, Vol. 4, p.
204. Deputy Knight testified that “a fake fingernail
that the ladies wear” was seen was missing the
victim's finger and was found on the floor near her body.
Exhibit 2 (photograph showing finger nail on floor near the
body of the decedent), SCR, Vol. 4, p. 195.
photographic evidence introduced at trial, and shown to the
jury, included pictures of the victim taken at the crime
scene. Photographic exhibits 2 and 3. Those photographs
reveal extensive bruising to her face and neck. Id.
Photograph 6 shows the victim's eye, black and blue and
swollen completely shut, as well as bruising on her lip,
cheek, forehead and the side of her nose. That photograph
also showed blood in both her nostrils. Photographic exhibit
1 and defense exhibit 1 showed minor injuries to Hawkins'
chest. Photographic exhibit 5 shows bruises to the side of
the victim's neck, face, and arm.
Steven Hayne, the State's pathologist, testified that he
conducted the autopsy on the decedent, Ms. Rita Fair. SCR,
Vol. 4, p. 213-260. Hayne testified that the cause of death
was blunt force trauma to the face and neck. SCR, Vol. 4, p.
234-235. He found that the bruises and abrasions were
“consistent with being beaten.” SCR, Vol. 1, p.
223. He also testified that this trauma resulted in
“cardiac arrhythmia” and “death, ”
given her pre-existing coronary heart disease. SCR, Vol. 4,
p. 234-235. Dr. Hayne testified that his examination
determined that the victim suffered from “severe heart
disease” and “hypertension.” SCR, Vol. 4,
p. 220, 235. Dr. Hayne found a three and a half inch bruise
on the victim's face, as well as bruises on her right and
left eyes, one eye swollen shut. There was a two and a half
inch bruise and a half inch scrape below the right eye. There
was a bruise below the chin about two and a half inches wide,
as well as bruise on the lower lip. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 220-221.
Dr. Hayne also found that there were “abrasions”
and “bruises” to the victim's neck. SCR, Vol.
4, p. 221. There were also internal injuries to her
“larynx, esophagus, and hyoid bone, ” in the
front of the victim's neck. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 222. Hayne
found the injuries to the victim's hands, arms, and body
consistent with “defensive posturing injuries.”
SCR, Vol. 4, p. 222.
Hayne testified that, based on national forensic standards,
when a victim with coronary artery disease is subjected to
blunt force trauma producing cardiac arrhythmia, the death is
not classified as a natural death, but a homicide. SCR, Vol.
4, p. 235. Dr. Hayne believed, based upon the results of his
autopsy, that this physical trauma produced a cardiac
arrhythmia which resulted in the victim dying as shown in the
photographs. SCR, Vol. 1, p. 236. While there were toxicology
results indicating the victim had consumed alcohol and drugs,
the forensic analysis indicated that these results were
consistent with some degree of impairment, but not with
“lethality.” Hayne testified that there would
have been evidence of “cerebral edema” had that
have been the case, and the autopsy revealed no such edema.
SCR, Vol. 4, p. 232.
John Bishop with the Monroe County Sheriff's office
testified that, on August 16, 2007, he answered a call to
investigate a possible death on Highway 45 north, just
outside of Aberdeen. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 172. When he arrived on
the scene, he encountered Hawkins at his opened door. When
Bishop asked what was going on, Hawkins answered that
“he killed her.” SCR, Vol. 4, p. 173. Bishop
identified in the court room as the person who spoke these
words to Bishop. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 173.
trial, a video cassette was played for the jury. In that
cassette recording Hawkins stated that he told his son,
“I killed her.” In addition, he says, “she
pushed my button and we got into a tussle.” SCR, Vol. 4
and 5, p. 175-176; 382-383.
conclusion of the State's case, Hawkins moved for a
directed verdict, alleging a lack of evidence that his
actions toward the victim could be considered depraved heart
murder. SCR, Vol. 4, p. 277. The trial court denied a motion
for a directed verdict. Id. The trial court found
that the prosecution had made out a prima facie case, ...