United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. GARGIULO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT is the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for
Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, filed by
Petitioner Donald Allen Caves. The Petition challenges
Caves' 2014 conviction for failing to register as a sex
offender and resulting enhanced sentence as a violent
habitual offender to life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole or probation. Having considered the
submissions of the parties, the record, and relevant legal
authority, the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
recommends that Petitioner's request for relief pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 be denied. Petitioner has not shown
that the state court's decision was contrary to clearly
established United State Supreme Court law, involved an
unreasonable application of Supreme Court law, or was based
on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
is a postconviction inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (MDOC), last known to be housed at
the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl,
Mississippi. Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of
Pearl River County, Mississippi, Caves was convicted on April
9, 2014, for failing to register as a sex offender, his
fourth felony conviction. (Cause No. K2013-198M, ECF No. 1,
to this conviction, Caves was convicted of child molestation
in 1990 and sentenced to serve a term of five years. (Cause
No. 6404-1, ECF No. 8-1, at 14). In 1997, Caves was convicted
as an accessory after the fact to automobile burglary and
sentenced to five years. (Cause No. 9344-1, ECF No. 8-1, at
14). In 2005, Caves was convicted of possession of a weapon
by a convicted felon and sentenced to three years. (Cause No.
K2004-200P, ECF No. 8-1, at 14-15).
2014 conviction, Caves was sentenced under Mississippi Code
§ 99-19-83, a violent habitual offender statute, to life
imprisonment without eligibility for parole or probation.
(ECF No. 8-1, at 38-40). Caves appealed. He was represented
by counsel with the Office of State Public Defender, Indigent
Appeals Division, and advanced two arguments:
1. Caves alleged that the trial court erred in excluding the
testimony of a defense witness Erica Fraught.
2. Caves alleged that the verdict was against the
overwhelming weight of the evidence.
See Caves v. State, 179 So.3d 1175 (Miss. Ct. App.
2015), reh'g denied, October 6, 2015, cert.
denied, December 17, 2015; see (Cause No.
2014-KA-00643-COA, ECF No. 8-5, at 1-17).
June 9, 2015 decision, the Mississippi Court of Appeals found
that the trial court did not err in excluding Fraught's
testimony and concluded that there was substantial evidence
to support the jury's guilty verdict. (ECF No. 8-4, at
11-24). Caves' motion for rehearing was denied. (ECF No.
8-4, at 2). The Mississippi Supreme Court denied Caves'
writ of certiorari. (Cause No. 2014-CT-00643-SCT, ECF No.
8-4, at 70).
26, 2016, Caves filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court a
pro se Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial
Court, raising four grounds for relief:
1. Jury member was Mississippi police officer fully clothed
in state uniform
2. Two jury members were known to defendant and previously
3. Defendant was subjected to jury members while fully
dressed in MDOC stripes, waist and ankle chains prior to
4. Erica Fraught was not called as a witness in case trial
(ECF No. 8-7, at 10-12). Caves summarized the facts upon
which his Application was based as follows:
I was accused of touching my girlfriends daughter and was
picked up July 12, 2012. I was interviewed and read my
rights, I was locked up in county jail on this date. My
re-registration was set for July 17, 2012, so I missed my
registration due to being locked up in Pearl River County
(ECF No. 8-7, at 13) (all sic is original).
Mississippi Supreme Court denied Caves' Application,
finding Caves' grounds for relief “without
merit.” (Cause No. 2016-M-00756, ECF No. 8-7, at 9).
Caves' petition for a rehearing was denied. Id.
at 3. Caves filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus pro se on October 3, 2016,
raising two grounds for relief as follows:
1. Trial court erred in excluding the testimony of
Erica Fraught. The court denied Caves to call
Fraught as a witness stating testimony was irrelevant.
However, Fraught's testimony regarding Caves'
capability of reading and writing and understanding the
requirements of registration as a sex offender was essential
to his case to show his intellectual ...