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Pannell v. Neal

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 19, 2015

DAVID PANNELL, Petitioner,
RON NEAL, Superintendent, Respondent.



Having considered the amended petition for writ of habeas corpus, the expanded record and the parties' arguments, and being duly advised, the Court finds that the amended petition must be denied. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not be issued. These conclusions are compelled by the following facts and circumstances:

1. David Pannell is a prisoner of the State of Indiana based on his conviction for the February 17, 1996, stabbing death of his wife Leisha. See Pannell v. State, 686 N.E.2d 824, 825 (Ind. 1997). His current custodian is substituted as the respondent.

2. It is noted in Jones v. Butler, 2015 WL 430436, at *1 (7th Cir. February 3, 2015), that "[i]n § 2254 proceedings, federal courts are foreclosed from fact-finding. We therefore defer to the findings of the [state] court, which [when] not been challenged... are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence." (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) and Harris v. Thompson, 698 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2012)). The pertinent facts are summarized by the Indiana Supreme Court as follows:

David Pannell and his wife Leisha were separated. On February 17, 1996, he visited the home where she lived with their five children. David and Leisha spent most of the afternoon and evening in her bedroom while the children played outside and in other areas of the house.
That evening, after Leisha returned from a short trip to the store with some of the children to buy candy, she and David began to argue in the living room while the children watched television in her bedroom. Two of the children, then ages ten and nine, testified that they heard their father demand five dollars from Leisha, who refused, claiming she needed the money to feed the children. Shortly thereafter, they heard a door "slam open" and their mother scream. They ran to the front of the house and saw their father holding their mother down on the ground in front of the home and stabbing her with a large kitchen knife. One of the children ran outside and tried to stop him. Pannell pushed her away and continued stabbing Leisha. The children then dialed 911 and watched as Pannell stuck the knife in the ground, got into his car, and drove away.
Police found Pannell approximately one hour later after his car was involved in a single-vehicle crash some three to four miles from Leisha's home. Leisha died from stab wounds to the heart and lungs.
Pannell testified at trial that he did not kill his wife. He claimed that Leisha came after him with a knife after he had walked out the door, so he disarmed her, dropped the knife on the ground beside the house, and drove away.

Pannell, 686 N.E.2d at 826. Pannell's appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief is currently pending, but the claims and decision in the post-conviction are unrelated to the claims properly presented in this action.

3. Pannell claimed in his direct appeal that (1) the trial court improperly excluded evidence of the victim's drug use and (2) trial that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to admit an ambulance run report and present evidence that Pannell was under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense. These claims are renewed in this habeas action. The court is also required to address the respondent's argument that Pannell's habeas petition was not timely filed.

4. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, became effective on April 24, 1996, and governs the habeas petition in this case because Pannell filed his petition after the AEDPA's effective date.

5. "We live in a world of deadlines." Spears v. City of Indianapolis, 74 F.3d 153, 157 (7th Cir. 1996). One statute enacted by Congress as part of AEDPA, amended 28 U.S.C. § 2244 to include a one-year statute of limitations for state prisoners seeking federal habeas relief. The statute of limitations applicable to federal habeas corpus actions "was Congress' primary vehicle for streamlining the habeas review process and lending finality to state convictions." Walker v. Artuz, 208 F.3d 357, 361 (2nd Cir. 2000). The AEDPA prescribes a one-year period of limitations for the filing of habeas petitions by state prisoners, which begins to run from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant ...

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