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King v. Griffin

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

January 17, 2019

GEORGE KING, Petitioner,
KATHY GRIFFIN, Respondent.



         Petitioner George King is serving a 50-year sentence for his 2002 Marion County, Indiana, conviction of two counts of attempted murder. He brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Mr. King's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         District court review of a habeas petition presumes all factual findings of the state court to be correct, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Daniels v. Knight, 476 F.3d 426, 434 (7th Cir. 2007). On direct appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals summarized the relevant facts of the case:

King and Kay King (“Kay”) are brother and sister. Their father, George King (“George”), was a multimillionaire. In 1999, Kay worked for George's investment company, and he gave Kay power of attorney. King lived with George at his residence in Indianapolis. Kay and King had a strained relationship and often quarreled over who would control George's multimillion-dollar estate after his death.
In the summer of 2000, Kay and King clashed. King yelled, “I'm going to kill you.” Dana Miller, George's nursing aid, witnessed part of the fight. Miller heard Kay ask King, “Are you going to shoot me?” Miller saw King nod his head affirmatively and respond, “Yeah.” In October 2001, Kay saw King remove mail from her mailbox. During the same timeframe, one of Kay's neighbors saw King's car stop at Kay's mailbox on numerous occasions. Later, Kay learned that change-of-address orders had been executed with the post office that changed the delivery of her investment and trust accounts to George's address, where King lived.
On the evening of November 14, 2001, Kay's fifteen-year-old son, C.K. drove her car home from his confirmation class. C.K. pulled into their garage and turned off the car. As C.K. and Kay sat talking, a man wearing a ski mask and trench coat appeared on the passenger side of the car. He had his right hand covered with a fast-food sack. The man removed the sack and fired a revolver at Kay and C.K. through the passenger window. C.K. was shot twice, in his neck and shoulder. Kay was shot five times; she sustained injuries to her face, shoulder, and hand. C.K. restarted the car and backed out of the garage. The assailant pursued them and continued to fire at Kay and C.K. as they drove away. Kay's neighbors reported seeing a thin man with a stature similar to King's, wearing dark clothing and running away from Kay's garage that night.
C.K. sought help at a nearby fire station. Firefighters administered medical aid to Kay and C.K. before they were transported to the hospital. When firefighters questioned Kay and C.K. as to the identity of their attacker, they both identified King as the assailant. Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Bradley Beaton interviewed C.K. at the fire station. C.K. told Deputy Beaton that King had shot him and his mother. C.K. said that he recognized King as the assailant because of his eyes, mouth, and build. Later at the hospital, Marion County Sheriff's Department Detective John Maloney interviewed Kay and C.K. separately; both identified King as the attacker.

King v. State, 799 N.E.2d 42, 45 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003); see also dkt. 13-6.

         Mr. King was charged with two counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery as a Class B felony, battery as a Class C felony, and carrying a handgun without a license as a Class A misdemeanor. The case proceeded to a jury trial on August 19-22, 2002, and the jury found Mr. King guilty on all charges. On November 20, 2002, the trial court sentenced Mr. King to concurrent terms of 50 years for the attempted murder convictions and vacated all other convictions based on double-jeopardy principles. Dkt. 13-1.

         Mr. King appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals. He raised several claims, including that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions because Kay's and C.K.'s identifications were dubious. He also claimed that his right to cross-examination and due process were violated when the trial court allowed Kay's recorded statement to be presented to the jury despite having been taken after Kay supposedly underwent hypnosis.

         On November 24, 2003, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Mr. King's convictions. King, 799 N.E.2d at 42. Mr. King petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over his case and raised the same claims he had raised to the Indiana Court of Appeals. Dkts. 13-7, 13- 8. On February 4, 2004, the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer. Dkt. 13-9. Mr. King then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Dkt. 13-10. On October 6, 2004, the writ was denied. Dkt. 13-11.

         On September 29, 2005, Mr. King filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the trial court (“PCR court”), which was dismissed by the PCR court due to Mr. King's refusal to be transported for hearing. The petition was reinstated by the Indiana Supreme Court on August 22, 2008. Dkt. 13- 19.

         An evidentiary hearing was held in the trial court on October 21, 2014 (PCR App. Vol. II 18-19).[1] On April 12, 2016, the PCR court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law denying relief (PCR App. Vol. II 20, 43-71). Mr. King appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals claiming that trial and appellate counsel were ineffective. Dkts. 13-21, 13-22, & 13-23. On January 17, 2017, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued its decision affirming the PCR court's denial of relief. Dkt. 13- 25. Mr. King petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over his case. Dkts. 13-25, 13-26. On April 20, 2017, the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer. Dkt. 13-27.

         On April 25, 2017, Mr. King filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         Applicable Law

          A federal court may grant habeas relief only if the petitioner demonstrates that he is in custody “in violation of the Constitution or laws . . . of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Mr. King's petition is governed by the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”); see Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997).

         The Supreme Court has described the AEDPA as “a formidable barrier to federal habeas relief for prisoners whose claims have been adjudicated in state court” and has emphasized that courts must not “lightly conclude that a State's criminal justice system has experienced the ‘extreme malfunction' for which federal habeas relief is the remedy.” Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 19-20 (2013) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011)); see also Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (“AEDPA . . . imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and demands that state court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.”) (internal quotation marks, citations, and footnote omitted).

         Where a claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court, habeas relief is available under the deferential AEDPA standard only if the state court's determination was (1) “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ” or (2) “based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011). Thus, “under AEDPA, federal courts do not independently analyze the petitioner's claims; federal courts are limited to reviewing the relevant state court ruling on the claims.” Rever v. Acevedo, 590 F.3d 533, 536 (7th Cir. 2010). “A state-court decision involves an unreasonable application of this Court's clearly established precedents if the state court applies this Court's precedents to the facts in an objectively unreasonable manner.” Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 131, 141 (2005) (internal citations omitted). “Under § 2254(d)(2), a decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts if it rests upon fact-finding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.” Goudy v. Basinger, 604 F.3d 394, 399-400 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing ...

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