Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


August 22, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Allen Sharp, District Judge.


Petitioner, William Minnick, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on the recommendation of the jury in a state court trial conducted in Brazil, Indiana, in the Clay Circuit Court. When that conviction was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court due to a Miranda violation, Minnick v. State, 467 N.E.2d 754 (Ind. 1984), he was retried in the Lawrence Circuit Court in Bedford, Indiana, where he was again convicted of murder. After his second trial, the jury unanimously recommended life in prison, but Minnick was sentenced to death by the judge conducting that trial. The within petition was filed by counsel in this Court on September 8, 1999, and oral argument was heard in Lafayette, Indiana on March 16, 2000. This Court greatly appreciates the high degree of professional competence displayed by appointed counsel for this petitioner.

The extensive state record has been filed and examined by this Court under the mandates of Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S.Ct. 745, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963) and under the mandates of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b). Immediate reference is made to the three decisions in this case by the Supreme Court of Indiana, namely Minnick v. State, 467 N.E.2d 754 (Ind. 1984), cert. denied, Indiana v. Minnick, 472 U.S. 1032, 105 S.Ct. 3512, 87 L.Ed.2d 642 (1985), Minnick v. State, 544 N.E.2d 471 (Ind. 1989) and Minnick v. State, 698 N.E.2d 745 (Ind. 1998), cert. denied, Minnick v. Indiana, 528 U.S. 1006, 120 S.Ct. 501, 145 L.Ed.2d 387 (1999). This petitioner is now confined on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana in this district.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

The Indiana Supreme Court described the events giving rise to Minnick's conviction as follows:

On the afternoon of October 26, 1981, James D. Payne returned from work to his home in Greencastle, Indiana. He discovered his wife's body on the bedroom floor. He immediately called police. The ensuing investigation revealed Martha Payne had been raped, anally sodomized, stabbed in the right rear shoulder, and struck on the head with a table lamp. In addition, ligature marks on her neck indicated she had been strangled, and burn marks on her ankles showed the perpetrator had attempted to electrocute her as well. The cause of death was determined to be the knife wound in her upper back, which penetrated her lung and severed her pulmonary artery.

Minnick v. State, 544 N.E.2d 471, 473 (Ind. 1989). That evening, while police cars were still at the Payne home, William Minnick stopped and spoke with Officer Rodney Cline, mentioning that he had been at the Payne home that day looking to do some work. (2 T.R. 2105).*fn1

Late that night, a DePauw University student called the Greencastle police and informed them he had seen an orange "Dukes of Hazzard"-type car park in his fraternity's parking lot, approximately one block from the Payne home, and that he had seen a dark haired man dressed in a fatigue jacket and jeans exit the car and walk towards the Payne home. (2 T.R. 1120-23). Officer Cline heard the student's message, and after calling the student back to discuss it further, determined that the individual might have been Minnick. 2 T.R. 1280. At approximately 3:30 a.m., Cline and Officer Larry Shipman went to Minnick's house and asked him to come to the police station for questioning. 2 T.R. 1281. When Minnick asked if the questioning was about his car, Cline responded "you could say it was about your car." 2 T.R. 1282. Cline read Minnick his Miranda rights and told him to read the entire form, which included a waiver of his rights, asked Minnick if he understood what he read, then had Minnick sign the form. Id. Cline then proceeded to interrogate Minnick about the Payne murder without the benefit of counsel. 2 T.R. 1292. After Cline said "Well, wonder if I told you that we had a knife that had your fingerprints on it?" Minnick slammed Cline against the wall, but his parents pulled him off and calmed him down, stating "if this gets further out of hand, we'll contact [an attorney]." 1 T.R. 730. Minnick attempted to leave the interrogation room, but was restrained. 1 T.R. 560. Prosecutor Del Brewer arrived at the police headquarters between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. 1 T.R. 562. Using a small tape recorder, Brewer continued the questioning of Minnick, and the recording captured both Minnick's detention and Minnick's request for an attorney*fn2. 1 T.R. 2133.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., Judge Vaughn of the Putnam Circuit Court signed a warrant authorizing the taking of hair, nail scraping, urine, blood and fingerprints from Minnick, and those samples were taken around 11:00 a.m. 2 T.R. 1433, 1460. Minnick was then taken from the Greencastle Police Department to the Putnam County Jail, where he was housed in a single cell on the second floor, at approximately 11:30 a.m. 1 T.R. 572, 583. Between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m., Officer Jim Hendricks of the Putnam County Sheriffs Department brought Minnick to an interview room at the jail. 1 T.R. 583, 2694. Hendricks and Indiana State Police Officer Jim Smith then began to question Minnick without obtaining a waiver. 1 T.R. 584. During the course of the conversation, a recording device was used intermittently, and in the last portion of the recording, Minnick is heard confessing to the murder. 1 T.R. 585-590, 2596-2604, 533.

Based on information gained from the confession, police obtained a warrant to search Minnick's home, where they seized a black shaving kit containing a large quantity of change and an orange wire with a hair attached to it. 2 T.R. 1518. The hair was not mentioned in the warrant or the return, and Sgt. Hanlon of the Indiana State Police (I.S.P.) testified that he either forgot to list the hair or just failed to list it. 2 T.R. 1474. Officer Rairdon of the I.S.P. received the orange wire at the lab, and his receipt does not mention a hair. Nevertheless a hair was analyzed by the state police and found sufficiently similar to Payne's hair to be of common origin. 2 T.R. 1756. The wire was described on the warrant return as being approximately twelve inches in length and possibly a speaker wire. 2 T.R. 1468. When tested by the state police lab, no blood or skin was found on the wire, and no carbon marks were found on the ends. 2 T.R. 1721.

Dr. John Pless, a forensic pathologist and pathology professor at Indiana University, conducted the autopsy of Payne on October 28, 1981. 2 T.R. 1598. Dr. Pless determined that Payne was killed by a knife wound to her back, but had also received injuries to her neck in an attempted strangulation, a blunt force injury to her head, and marks on her ankles consistent with electrical burns. 2 T.R. 1599-1600. Dr. Pless collected hair and fiber samples, rectal, vaginal and oral swabs, and blood samples from Payne; however, he did not find any evidence of spermatozoa on the swabs. 2 T.R. 161415. Dr. Pless was unable to determine a time of death from his examination. 2 T.R. 1612-16.

Minnick was initially represented by Stephen Pierson, who was appointed as pauper counsel by the Putnam Circuit Court on October 28, 1981. 1 T.R. 55. Pierson filed motions for bail, for production of evidence, to suppress evidence, and for change of venue before attorney Woodrow Nasser was employed by Minnick's parents and entered his appearance on December 1, 1981. 1 T.R. 86-87, 89, 90, 91-92, 97. Nasser filed Minnick's Notice of Alibi Defense on March 11, 1982, as well as a motion to dismiss. 1 T.R. 171. Most importantly, Nasser briefed and argued the motion to suppress the confession made by Minnick on the afternoon of October 27, 1981. 1 T.R. 502. The case was venued to the Clay Circuit Court, the next county over, and after he denied the motion to suppress, Judge Ernest Yelton presided over Minnick's first trial. 1 T.R. 56, 199, 213. Minnick was convicted on the murder, rape, and robbery charges, although the court granted a directed verdict on the sexual deviate conduct charge, and after the jury recommended a death sentence, the court sentenced Minnick to death. 1 T.R. 328, 333, 362. Minnick appealed his conviction and sentence to the Indiana Supreme Court, and on September 7, 1984, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed his conviction and remanded the case for a new trial, finding that the confession made by Minnick on October 27, 1981 was taken in violation of Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981). The State filed a petition for writ of certiorari, but that petition was denied. Indiana v. Minnick, 472 U.S. 1032, 105 S.Ct. 3512, 87 L.Ed.2d 642 (1985).

On remand, Woodrow Nasser was appointed as pauper counsel for Minnick and he moved for a change of venue from the Clay Circuit Court. 2 T.R. 64, 66. The case was transferred to the Lawrence Circuit Court, where Judge Linda Chezem presided, on July 15, 1985. 2 T.R. 66. Nasser moved for production of all evidence not produced during the first trial, and that motion was granted on August 26, 1985. 2 T.R. 159, 173. The second trial then commenced on September 4, 1985 with jury selection on September 4, 5, and 6, 1985. 2 T.R. 181, 184.

As in the first trial, Brewer presented evidence from several of the Greencastle Police, Putnam County Sheriffs Department, and Indiana State Police officers who had participated in the investigation, as well as several friends and relatives of both the victim and Minnick, working to establish Minnick's opportunity. Gary Hood, the Technician Supervisor for the I.S.P., testified that he had gathered evidence at the Payne home and had taken photographs of the crime scene, which were then presented to the jury. 2 T.R. 886 et seq. Martha Payne's mother then testified that her daughter would have received $30,000 from a trust fund established by her grandfather when she was 25 and another $30,000 from a trust fund established after her father died when she turned 30. 2 T.R. 961.

Jim Payne, Martha's husband, testified that he arrived home between 4:45 and 4:50 p.m. on October 26, 1981. 2 T.R. 998. He called her name when he arrived home, then went to the bedroom to change his clothes. 2 T.R. 1002. He threw something at the wastebasket, but missed, and when he went to pick it up, he saw the bloody knife on the floor by the basket. 2 T.R. 1002. He then circled the bed and found Martha's body. 2 T.R. 1004. Payne also testified that he had been in the habit of saving his change in a large glass cider jug, and that when he lasted counted the jar in July, 1981, it contained between seventy and eighty dollars. 2 T.R. 976. When he looked after the murder, the jar was gone, although he could not state with certainty that he had seen the jar in the week prior to the murder. 2 T.R. 978. Jim also testified that he and Martha had engaged in sexual intercourse the day prior to the murder and that Martha had used a diaphragm on that occasion. 2 T.R. 994.

Linda (Detro) Marley testified that she had had breakfast with Martha on the morning of October 26, 1981, and that Martha had been prepared to pay for her own breakfast, suggesting that she had cash in her wallet, which was found empty after the murder. 2 T.R. 1060. Additionally, Marley spoke with Martha on the telephone at 12:00 p.m. that day. James Peck, Superintendent of the Greencastle Community Schools, testified that Martha had stopped by his office at approximately 1:15 p.m. to sign up for the substitute teacher list. 2 T.R. 1064. Janet Pierce testified that she was exercising at the Figurette Salon with Martha, and that Martha was still at the salon when she left at 2:10 p.m. Donna Duell, who worked at the Figurette, testified that Martha checked out of the salon at approximately 2:20 p.m. 2 T.R. 1078. Debra Haerr, a neighbor of the Paynes, testified that she saw Martha backing out of the driveway at 12:50 p.m. on October 26, 1981 and that she saw Jim Payne walking towards his porch at 4:55 p.m. that same day. 2 T.R. 1084-85. Haerr also testified that she cleaned the house after the murder and found Martha's diaphragm, which appeared to be clean and in its usual place. 2 T.R. 1086.

Marty Williamson, who knew both Payne and Minnick, testified that Minnick had visited him at 2:30 p.m. on October 26, 1981 and asked him if he would assist Minnick with a job at the Payne house. 2 T.R. 1099. Minnick told Williamson at that time that Payne was not yet home. Id. Minnick left, then returned approximately fifteen minutes later and stated that Payne was still not at home. 2 T.R. 1101. Williamson then declined the job offer because he had another job to do that day. Id. Williamson then left his house and went to a laundromat to see his future mother-in-law and let her know he wouldn't be able to pick up his girlfriend/future wife after school. 2 T.R. 1104. He noted the time as a few minutes before three. Id. As he left the laundromat and started toward his next job in Crawfordsville, he saw Martha Payne walking down the street towards her home. 2 T.R. 1106. Brewer then presented the testimony of Steve Huber, the DePauw fraternity member, from the first trial, in which he had testified that he saw a person park an orange Dodge Chargertype vehicle in his fraternity's parking lot at approximately 2: 15 p.m. 2 T.R. 1124. Mace Terry, who had been a student at Greencastle High School and a neighbor of the Payne's, testified that he saw Minnick walking toward the Payne house at approximately 2:55 p.m. 2 T.R. 1138.

Judy Flower, who lived in the upstairs apartment at the Payne house, testified that she returned home from teaching school at approximately 3:15 p.m., turned on her television, and made several phone calls. 2 T.R. 1147. At approximately 3:45 p.m., she heard the downstairs door close and believed it to be Martha checking the mail. 2 T.R. 1149. Flowers made a few more phone calls, then heard Jim Payne arrive home at approximately 4:57 p.m. 2 T.R. 1153. Shortly thereafter, she heard male voices downstairs, looked out her window and saw police cars. 2 T.R. 1158.

Marty Crowe, an acquaintance of Minnick's, testified that Minnick gave him a ride home from his job at Rector Hall at DePauw University at approximately 4:00 p.m. 2 T.R. 1180. Charlene Jones, Minnick's girlfriend at the time, testified that Minnick arrived at her home at approximately 4:30 p.m. and stayed until between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. 2 T.R. 1193. Howard Keller, former owner of the K&K's Pro service station in Greencastle, testified that Minnick came into his station at approximately 2:00 p.m. and got $2.00 of gas on credit from Keller. 2 T.R. 1199. Harold Smiley, one of Keller's employees, then testified that Minnick returned to the station and paid for the $2.00 of gas with a dollar bill and four quarters. 2 T.R. 1204. Mark Secrest testified that he saw Minnick at McGoo's, the local video game parlor, between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. 2 T.R. 1214. Secrest left with Minnick and another individual, Louis Rachel, known as Ace, and went to Secrest's brother's house. 2 T.R. 1215-16. Minnick had purchased a car from Secrest and made his first payment that evening of $50.00, all in change. 2 T.R. 1218. At one point while Minnick, Secrest, and Rachel were counting out the coins, which Minnick had carried in a black shaving kit, some other people arrived at the house, and the three hid the money before opening the door. 2 T.R. 1218. Secrest asked Minnick where he got the money, but Minnick didn't answer. 2 T.R. 1218-19. Secrest also testified that there were pieces of broken clear glass in the bag with the money. 2 T.R. 1223-24.

Rodney Cline, a Greencastle police officer, testified that he was working the rope line at the crime scene and spoke with Minnick at the crime scene the night of October 26, 1981. 2 T.R. 1275. Minnick at that time told Cline he had been at the Payne house that day about a job. Id. Cline was the evening shift commander, so when the other officers finally went home for some sleep, Cline stayed on duty and started going through the tapes of phone calls to the department with possible leads. 2 T.R. 1277. Cline heard the tape of the call from DePauw student Steve Huber, and called Huber back at approximately 3:00 a.m. to get a better description from him. 2 T.R. 1280. Based on that information, Cline went to Minnick's home as described above. 2 T.R. 1291. On cross-examination, Cline described a previous confrontation he'd had with Minnick, when Minnick's car had run out of gas and then got a flat tire, and Minnick left the car to get gas. 2 T.R. 1303. When he returned, Cline had called a tow truck, and the two got into an argument over who would pay for the tow truck. 2 T.R. 1303.

Jo Anne Hayes, who had been the dispatcher at the Clay County Sheriffs Department in 1982 when Minnick was housed there during the first trial, testified that she heard Minnick through the audio monitoring system in his cell state to another individual "and then Martha said . . . No, Billy don't . . . please don't." 2 T.R. 1325. Dennis Sluder, who had been an inmate at the Clay County Jail along with Minnick, testified that Minnick told him in jail that he had murdered Martha Payne. 2 T.R. 1333. Sluder specifically testified that Minnick told him he had used a hunting knife, that he had stuffed Payne's panties in her mouth to stop her screaming, that he urinated on the electrical wires to create a better connection, and that he stabbed Payne several times before finally killing her by stabbing her in the neck. 2 T.R. 1334.

Officers Norm Varvel and Larry Huffman of the Greencastle Police both testified as to Jim Payne's distraught nature when they arrived at the Payne home. 2 T.R. 1363, 1387. Wayne Hopkins, the Putnam County Coroner and a local funeral home director, testified that when he arrived at the Payne residence shortly after 5:00 p.m., he observed the body and pronounced Martha Payne dead. 2 T.R. 1247. After the technicians had finished taking evidence, Hopkins took the body to his mortuary, and then contacted Dr. John Pless to perform an autopsy. 2 T.R. 1251.

Charles Rairdon, a crime scene technician for the I.S.P., testified that he took some of the photographs of the Payne home and collected evidence the evening of the crime. 2 T.R. 1507. Additionally, he attended the autopsy and collected evidence from the victim at the autopsy. 2 T.R. 1510. Rairdon was the officer in charge of maintaining the evidence log, and he produced all of the physical evidence taken at the scene. 2 T.R. 1515-19. Dr. Pless testified that he had performed an autopsy on Martha Payne on October 28, 1981. 2 T.R. 1599. In that autopsy, he found a single stab wound in the back to the right of the spine, which pierced a lung and a major pulmonary artery. 2 T.R. 1600. Additionally, he found ligature marks around her neck and hemorrhages of the face which suggested a strangulation attempt, a blunt force injury on the back of the head, and small areas of burning of the tissue on the inside of both ankles. Id. He found the burning to be consistent with an electrical burning. 2 T.R. 1607. Pless further testified that he did not find any sperm on the swabs he took from the victim. 2 T.R. 1630. He did, however, find hyperemia of the vagina, suggestive of irritation, which would not have been caused by Payne's intercourse with her husband the previous day. 2 T.R. 1635.

William Kuhn, a forensic serologist at the I.S.P. Laboratory, testified that he tested the carpet sample from the Payne home and found semen from an individual with type O blood who secreted his blood type in his bodily fluids, i.e., a type O secretor. 2 T.R. 1688. Kuhn also typed samples from Jim Payne, Minnick, and Louis `Ace' Rachel, and found that Payne was a type O secretor, as was Minnick, but that Rachel was a type A secretor. 2 T.R. 1699, 1701. Thus, the semen stain on the carpet could have come from either Jim Payne or from Minnick. 2 T.R. 1701. Kuhn did find sperm on the vaginal swabs. 2 T.R. 1724. Michael Oliver, a hair and fiber examiner with the I.S.P. Laboratory, testified that he compared a hair found on an orange wire in Minnick's car and found the hair to be sufficiently similar to be of common origin to the victim, Martha Payne. 2 T.R. 1756. The prosecution then finished with the testimony of Linda Copeland from the first trial, at which she testified that she had been incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail at the same time as Minnick, and that Minnick had told her that he had raped the victim, but that Ace had killed her. 2 T.R. 1801.

The defense presented Wanda Rogers, Minnick's mother, to testify that Minnick was a good worker and that the entire family had a practice of keeping coins in jars. 2 T.R. 1907, 1909. Rogers also testified that on December 6, 1981, when Minnick escaped from jail, he arrived at her doorstep with fresh cuts on his face. 2 T.R. 1912. Minnick's brother, Earl Minnick, testified about Minnick's change bag and about Minnick's bruised appearance during his escape attempt. 2 T.R. 1927, 1930. The testimony of Annette Boyd, operator of the Commercial Hotel, was read from the first trial. 2 T.R. 1950. At that trial, she testified that she had accused Ace Rachel of killing Martha Payne, and that Phil Burchett then told her Rachel asked him to kill her. 2 T.R. 1955, 1957.

Jerry Nodley then testified that he had been working at the United Oil Station in Greencastle on the day of the murder and that he saw Minnick at the station between 3:00 and 3:15 p.m. that afternoon when Minnick purchased fifteen dollars of gas. 2 T.R. 1963. Earl Richardson, a mechanic at K&K Pro Station, testified that he saw Minnick in the garage between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. on October 26, 1981. 2 T.R. 1996. Dennis Rumley, who also worked at the K&K Pro Station, also testified that he saw Minnick at the station between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. 2 T.R. 2008. The testimony of Amy Kern from the first trial was read into the record. 2 T.R. 2020. Kern, an eleven year-old paper carrier at the time of the murder, testified that she heard a scream coming from the Payne home approximately twenty to thirty minutes before the police cars arrived at the home. 2 T.R. 2025. Linda Copeland's prior testimony as a defense witness was read, in which she stated that the Sheriff had maced Minnick prior to lunch time on Tuesday, October 27, 1981. 2 T.R. 2037. Minnick was yelling for his lawyer at the time and may have spit in the Sheriffs face. Id.

Minnick personally took the stand during the second trial. 2 T.R. 2082. Initially, he was presented for the limited purpose of showing Officer Cline's animus towards him, but when that was excluded, Minnick stayed on the stand, explained his activities on October 26, 1981, testified that he had escaped from his unlocked cell on December 6, 1981 because he had been beaten by an officer, and proclaimed his innocence. 2 T.R. 2089, 2107-2128, 2141-2146, 2158. The prosecutor attempted to cross-examine Minnick about his prior confession, but the court held a brief suppression hearing and determined that the statement should not be used for purposes of impeachment because Minnick had not been warned of that possibility prior to taking the stand. 2 T.R. 2196. The defense rested at the end of Minnick's testimony. 2 T.R. 2205.

The jury received the case for deliberations on September 18, 1985, and that same day reached verdicts of guilty on all counts. 2 T.R. 218. The following day, the jury returned for the penalty phase of the trial. 2 T.R. 271. The state presented no additional evidence, resting on the evidence it had presented during the trial. 2 T.R. 2303. The defense presented Minnick, who again denied any involvement in the offense. 2 T.R. 2307. The jury deliberated and recommended that the death penalty not be imposed. 2 T.R. 2339.

On October 16, 1985, the court held the sentencing hearing for Minnick. 2 T.R. 305. The probation officer testified as to her pre-sentence report. 2 T.R. 343. The prosecutor tried again to put the suppressed confession into the record, which the court denied. 2 T.R. 350. The defense put Minnick on the stand, and he again protested his innocence. 2 T.R. 361. No other evidence was presented, and the court orally and in writing rendered her findings. 2 T.R. 306-07, 370-72. She specifically stated as follows:

The court, after considering all mitigating circumstances listed by statute and pursuant to the last paragraph thereof had looked for any other circumstances appropriate for consideration. The court feels that a clean record for three months of adulthood is not the kind of lack of criminal record that the legislature envisioned in setting out the statutes for mitigating circumstances and the courts finds same not to be a mitigating circumstance.
The court further finds the aggravating circumstances overwhelmingly outweigh the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.