Executed July 13, 2010 10:38 a.m. by Lethal Injection in Ohio
31st murderer executed in U.S. in 2010
1219th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
6th murderer executed in Ohio in 2010
39th murderer executed in Ohio since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
William L. Garner
B / M / 19 - 37
B / F / 8
B / F / 10
B / F / 11
B / F / 12
B / M / 11
After falling on an icy sidewalk, Addie Mack went to the hospital emergency room to get checked out. At the hospital, Garner snatched her purse from near a pay telephone, called a cab, and directed the driver to her home address intending to steal what he could from the home. Garner went through each room of the apartment, including two bedrooms in which he noticed four girls and two boys sleeping. While inside, one of the girls woke up and asked Garner for a glass of water, which he gave her, and then he let the child watch television for a few minutes before sending her back to bed. He explained his presence in the apartment by telling her that he ran into her mother at the hospital and she had sent him to check on the children. Garner removed a number of items from the apartment, including a television set, a VCR, a portable telephone, and a Sony "boom box." Garner put these items in the cab, telling the driver that he and his girlfriend had a fight and that he was moving out his belongings. Realizing the child could identify him, Garner went back inside the apartment and set three fires. Two of the fires, set in the mother's unoccupied bedroom and another unoccupied bedroom, smoldered but went out. The third fire was set on the living room couch. That fire quickly consumed the living room and filled the entire apartment with heavy smoke. Addie's oldest son, Rod, was awakened by the smoke, heard his sisters screaming in their room and saw fire in the hallway outside his bedroom. Rod tried to get the other children out through a bedroom window. He went first, out his bedroom window and sliding onto a dormer over the front door, then down. But the other five children aged 8-12, which included his three sisters, a cousin and a neighbor boy who was spending the night, did not follow him and died inside. Upon arrest, after finding the stolen items in his home, Garner admitted entering the home and setting the fire, but said he thought the children would escape.
State v. Garner, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1994 WL 466508 (Ohio App. 1994). (Direct Appeal)
State v. Garner, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1997 WL 778982 (Ohio App. 1997). (Postconviction Relief)
Garner v. Mitchell, 557 F.3d 257 (6th Cir. 2009). (Habeas)
A porterhouse steak, fried shrimp, barbecued chicken and ribs, a large salad, potato wedges, onion rings, sweet potato pie, chocolate ice cream and Hawaiian Punch to drink.
Reading from a hand-written note held up by an official, Garner apologized to the six family members of the victims and stated he was "heartily sorry ... my carelessness caused a great loss to many and if my flesh gives you all some kind of peace, I want that for you. If this will give you closure, I hope it will.” Garner thanked the state of Ohio, his spiritual advisers and friend Stacy Evans who gave him a clipping of her dreadlock to hold as he died. “I thought I’d never be free, but I am free now."
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Name: William Garner
County: Hamilton County
Date of Birth: 9/26/1972
On July 13, 2010, William Garner was executed for the 1992 aggravated murders of Mykkila Mason, Deondra Freeman, Markeca Mason, Denitra Satterwhite, and Richard Gaines.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (Clemency Report)
Inmate#: OSP #A264-900
Inmate: William L. Garner
DOB: September 26, 1972
County of Conviction: Hamilton County
Date of Offense: January 26, 1992
Case Number: B920826
Date of Sentencing: November 5, 1992
Presiding Judge: Thomas Nurre
Prosecuting Attorney: Arthur M. Ney Jr.
Institution: Ohio State Penetentiary
Convictions: Aggravated Murder-5 Counts (Death), Aggravated Burglary (10-25 years), Aggravated Arson-2 Counts(10-25 years), Theft (2 years), Receiving Stolen Property-2 Counts (2 years).
"Garner goes quietly for killing 5," by Eileen Kelley. (July 13, 2010)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio — William Garner glanced over at his niece, a soft smile breaking his face as the first of the five syringes of a lethal drug were pumped into his arm at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday in the Death House at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Garner, 37, who grew up with the name “Peewee,” was the 382nd person to be executed in Ohio since the state began executions in 1803. The state has an execution scheduled each month through November.
Garner has spent nearly half his life on death row after killing five children in an English Woods townhouse on Jan. 26, 1992, when he set three fires to cover up a burglary.
While strapped to a wooden gurney, Garner held a dreadlock of hair from a friend in his left hand and read from a hand-written note held up by an official. He apologized to the six family members of victims who were there to witness the execution, separated from the killer by about four feet and a glass window. “If this will give you closure, I hope it will,” he said. Garner thanked the state of Ohio, his spiritual advisers and friend Stacy Evans who gave him a clipping of her dreadlock to hold as he died. Garner’s voice cracked once as he said his goodbyes, but he never lost his composure. “I thought I’d never be free, but I am free now,” he said.
No one spoke as he was dying until the warden broke the silence. “Time of death, 10:38 a.m.,” Warden Donald Morgan called out when the curtain opened at 10:39 a.m. The people in the three witness rooms remained silent as they were ushered out.
Garner was sentenced to death for killing the children in the home of Addie Mack after he stole her purse from a phone booth at University Hospital and broke into her apartment. During the 40 minutes inside the witness rooms, Mack, who lost three daughters in the fire, turned a few times to look at her son, Rod Mack, the only one to survive the fire. About 10 anti-death penalty advocates stood in the drizzling rain during the execution.
Up to the moment of his death, Garner, who has an IQ of 76 and was considered borderline retarded, maintained he never intended for the children to die, and was only trying to cover up the fact that he stole a television set, a VCR, a boom box and phone from the home. Rod Mack jumped from the window and was found shivering in the snow when emergency crews arrived. He told the police he heard his sisters screaming. The girls died huddled together. Garner took a cab from the apartment to a United Dairy Farmers where he bought Hawaiian Punch, a jelly cake and candy.
For his last meal at the Death House on Monday, Garner also had Hawaiian Punch and an assortment of food that included a Porterhouse steak, barbeque chicken and ribs, sweet potato pie, fried shrimp and chocolate ice cream.
Garner declined the standard prison breakfast Tuesday morning, as well as a sedative, in the hours before his death. He spent the early morning hours with his mother, Patricia Garner, his sister Lisa Ross, his friend Evans, spiritual leaders, the defense counsel and his niece – the only person to witness his death on his behalf. “He is finally at peace and that was very important,” his older sister Ross said after his death. She said she hoped the family members of sisters Denitra Satterwhite, 12, Deondra Freeman, 10, Mykia Mack, 8; the girls’ cousin Markeca Mason, 11, and neighbor Richard Gaines, also 11, could one day forgive him.
Marshandra Jackson, who lost her daughter Markeca, quietly wept during the 40-minute process that started with prep-work and the insertion of two shunts while Garner was in his holding cell. The preparations were broadcast into the witness rooms through video monitors. He then took 17 steps into the death chamber and climbed on the gurney.
Garner arrived in Lucasville on Monday, a place where he first was admitted to death row all those years ago when the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility sent people to death by the electric chair. The prison at the time was the only one in the state to house death row inmates. Much has changed since then.
The electric chair has since been replaced first with a lethal cocktail of drugs and then more recently to the sole drug Thiopental Sodium. Garner, who sentenced shortly after he turned 20, had been housed at the Mansfield Correctional Facility since 1995, where he lived alone in a 94-square-foot cell. When not in trouble, he was permitted out of his cell for up to 2½ hours a day.
Garner found trouble, though. Reports from the correction department say he was cited 13 times for infractions ranging from having sex with inmates to throwing fluids on workers to violent outbursts and fighting.
Garner and his twin Willie, who were born on Sept. 26, 1972, went by the names Peewee and Pappy, respectively. Garner suffered abuse and got into trouble early, court records show. At the age of 5, he kicked a teacher and threw temper tantrums. Garner was beaten by his mother and her boyfriends, as well as by a brother who had sexually assaulted him, according to court records.
That brother was picked up on a warrant Tuesday as he stood outside the prison walls before the execution. The infraction was that he allegedly failed to register as a sex offender in Hamilton County. Garner started getting in trouble with the law at the age of 10. He failed the second-, fourth- and sixth-grades, court records say. There were theft charges, criminal trespass and another theft charge all before his 11th birthday. Many followed ranging from breaking and entering, to assault to disorderly conduct.
“He was ready. Peewee had been ready,” Ross said of her brother’s execution Tuesday. “… Through the years, we prepared for this day.”
"Killer executed, but when isn't certain; Calling of death delayed for man who killed 5 kids in 1992,"by alan Johnson. (Wednesday, July 14, 2010 02:51 AM)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio - William Garner may have been ready to go, but his body wasn't. The Cincinnati man who killed five children by setting an apartment fire to cover up a burglary succumbed to a lethal dose of thiopental sodium at 10:38 a.m. yesterday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. But Garner, 37, wasn't pronounced dead until after an unusual 10-minute delay, during which a curtain shielded his body from the view of witnesses and the media in the prison Death House and an ancillary site.
Ernie L. Moore, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said later that when the curtain was pulled - usually signaling the end of an execution and the announcement of the time of death - the coroner said he heard "faint heart sounds" even though there were "no other life signs." Garner was not dead, even though the fatal chemical had been flowing into his veins for nine minutes.
The unexpected development triggered a five-minute wait under prison protocol, Moore said. At that point, behind the curtain, Garner's body was re-checked for a heartbeat. This time there was none; the curtain was opened, and the execution was over. Prison officials said they may re-examine the procedure for determining when the curtain is pulled and death is determined.
Rod Mack, the lone survivor of the fire on Jan. 26, 1992, watched Garner's execution, as did the parents of several of the dead children. So many family members wanted to see Garner die that prison officials set up a room where three witnesses watched the execution on closed-circuit television. About 10:20 a.m., as the execution began, a storm that had been hanging over the southern Ohio hills was unleashed. There were several loud claps of thunder, and a heavy rain began pelting the prison roof.
Reading from a rambling hand-written statement, Garner said he was "heartily sorry ... my carelessness caused a great lost (sic) to many and if my flesh gives you all some kind of peace, I want that for you." He thanked a long list of people, including the state of Ohio, then said, "I'm free, thank God almighty, I'm free now."
None of the victims' family members spoke to the media afterward, but Lisa Ross, Garner's sister, said her brother "was at peace. He was ready to go." Ross said "accidents happen" and that she hopes people can forgive her brother.
Police and court records tell a very different story about a man who tried to set fires in three places and stole the telephone - all the while knowing there were six children in the apartment. Garner even got one girl a glass of water and watched TV with her for a while. Five of the children died of smoke inhalation: Deondra Freeman, 10; Richard Gaines, 11; Markeca and Mykkila Mason, 11 and 8, respectively; and Denitra Satterwhite, 12. Mack, who was 13 at the time, escaped by jumping out a window.
Records show Garner found a purse belonging to Addie F. Mack in the emergency room of a Cincinnati hospital. After locating her address, Garner took a cab to the apartment, stole her television, VCR, telephone and boom box, then tried to cover his tracks by setting fire to the couch and two other spots in the apartment.
Garner ate nearly all of his last meal, which included a porterhouse steak, fried shrimp, barbecued ribs, a large salad, potato wedges, onion rings, sweet potato pie, chocolate ice cream and Hawaiian Punch to drink.
He was the sixth Ohioan executed this year and the 39th since capital punishment resumed in 1999.
"Ohio man executed for fire deaths of 5 children," by JoAnne Viviano. (7-13-10)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio — An Ohio man said he was "heartily sorry" before he was executed Tuesday for the murders of five children in a 1992 Cincinnati apartment fire he set in an attempt to destroy evidence of a burglary. William Garner, 37, died by lethal injection at 10:38 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
As he lay on the execution table, Garner held a dreadlock of hair from a female friend and read a lengthy final statement from notebook paper held by the execution team leader, thanking several people as well as the state of Ohio. "God bless everyone who has been robbed in this procedure," he said. "I thought I'd never be free, but I'm free now."
In the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 26, 1992, Garner gained access to Addie Mack's apartment after stealing keys from her purse while she received care in a hospital emergency room. Six children, ages 8 to 13, were at the apartment alone, and Garner knew they were there when he threw a lit match onto a couch. Garner has admitted setting the fire but said he thought the children would escape. Only one, 13-year-old Rod Mack, made it out alive. Mack watched the execution quietly with several others.
So many people wanted to witness the execution on behalf of the young victims that the prison opened a second viewing room, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said. Mack and five others were accommodated in the witness room facing the execution chamber, and another three watched on closed-circuit TV in the spillover room, she said.
Garner spent his final hours watching television and talking on the telephone with a friend and his twin brother. He visited with his mother and other relatives, as well as with spiritual advisers and his legal team, and took Holy Communion about an hour and a half before the start of his execution.
Garner had said a secondary motivation for setting the fire was to draw attention to the children's squalid living conditions. He told police that he had noticed the bedroom "full of girls" and that one of them had asked him for water, which he provided, according to a report by the Ohio Parole Board. He also said he had been in another bedroom where the two boys slept.
His lawyers had argued that the death sentences be set aside because Garner had developmental disabilities, a limited IQ and a violent, abusive upbringing that caused him to function on the level of a 14-year-old at the time of the deaths.
Garner is the sixth person executed in Ohio this year and the 39th put to death by the state since it resumed the practice in 1999.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, on the night of January 25, 1992, Addie Mack slipped and fell on the icy sidewalk, injuring herself. Addie Mack woke up her oldest son, Rod, and told him she was going to the emergency room to get checked out. Rod went back to sleep in the apartment where his three sisters were sleeping along with a cousin and a neighbor boy who were both spending the night.
At the hospital, 19-year-old William Garner snatched Addie's purse from near a pay telephone in the emergency room area. Inside the purse, Garner found food stamps, keys, and the identification information of Addie F. Mack. Garner called a cab and directed the driver to take him to the address that he found inside the purse, an apartment at 1969 Knob Court in Cincinnati that was Addie's home, intending to steal whatever he found inside the apartment.
Garner went inside Addie's apartment while the cab driver, Thomas J. Tolliver, waited outside. Garner went through each room of the apartment, including two bedrooms in which he noticed four girls and two boys sleeping. While Garner was inside, one of the girls woke up and asked Garner for a glass of water, which he gave her, and then he let the child watch television for a few minutes before sending her back to bed. He explained his presence in the apartment by telling her that he ran into her mother at the hospital and she had sent him to check on the children.
Garner removed a number of items from the apartment, including a television set, a VCR, a portable telephone, and a Sony "boom box." Garner put these items in the cab, telling the driver that he and his girlfriend had a fight and that he was moving out his belongings. Realizing the child could identify him, Garner went back inside the apartment and set three fires. Two of the fires, set in the mother's unoccupied bedroom and another unoccupied bedroom, smoldered but went out. The third fire was set on the living room couch. That fire quickly consumed the living room and filled the entire apartment with heavy smoke.
Addie's oldest son, Rod, was awakened by the smoke, heard his sisters screaming in their room and saw fire in the hallway outside his bedroom. Rod tried to get the other children out through a bedroom window. He went first, out his bedroom window and sliding onto a dormer over the front door, then down, but the other five children, ranging in age from 8 - 12, did not follow him and died inside.
Garner left in the cab and directed Tolliver to take him to a convenience store, where Tolliver waited while Garner purchased several items. Garner then had Tolliver take him home to 3250 Burnet Avenue. Tolliver helped Garner unload the cab and carry everything into Garner's home. Garner did not have enough cash to pay the cab fare, but Tolliver accepted a television set as payment. Based on information provided by two police officers in the area, the police located Tolliver and interviewed him on the morning of January 26. Tolliver told the police that he had driven a man from the hospital emergency room to 1969 Knob Court, waited while the man went inside and returned with several items, driven the man to the convenience store, and driven him to 3250 Burnet Avenue. The police showed Tolliver still photographs from the convenience store's surveillance tape, and Tolliver identified his previous night's fare based on the man's clothing. The police also showed Tolliver three photo arrays, two of which contained photographs of Garner, and Tolliver identified Garner as his passenger from the night before.
Based on the information provided by Tolliver, police obtained a search warrant and searched the house at 3250 Burnet Avenue. Police recovered, among other things, a VCR, a Sony "boom box," a portable telephone, a pair of gloves, a set of keys later identified as Mack's, and copies of Mack's children's birth certificates.
Ohioans to Stop Executions
List of individuals executed in Ohio
A total of 39 individuals convicted of murder have been executed by the U.S. State of Ohio since 1976. All were executed by lethal injection.
1. Wilford Berry, Jr. (19 February 1999) Charles Mitroff
2. Jay D. Scott (14 June 2001) Vinnie M. Price
3. John William Byrd, Jr. (19 February 2002) Monte Tewksbury
4. Alton Coleman (26 April 2002) Tonnie Storey and Marlene Walters
5. Robert Anthony Buell (24 September 2002) Krista Lea Harrison
6. Richard Edwin Fox (February 12, 2003) Leslie Renae Keckler
7. David M. Brewer (April 29, 2003) Sherry Byrne
8. Ernest Martin (June 18, 2003) Robert Robinson
9. Lewis Williams, Jr. (14 January 2004) Leoma Chmielewski
10. John Glenn Roe (3 February 2004) Donette Crawford
11. William Dean Wickline (30 March 2004) Peggy and Christopher Lerch
12. William G. Zuern, Jr. (8 June 2004) Phillip Pence
13. Stephen Allan Vrabel (14 July 2004) Susan Clemente and Lisa Clemente
14. Scott Andrew Mink (July 20, 2004) William Mink and Sheila Mink
15. Adremy Dennis (October 13, 2004) Kurt Kyle
16. William Smith (March 8, 2005) Mary Bradford
17. Herman Dale Ashworth (27 September 2005) Daniel L. Baker
18. William James Williams, Jr. (25 October 2005) William Dent, Alfonda R. Madison, Sr., Eric Howard and Theodore Wynn Jr.
19. John R. Hicks (29 November 2005) Brandy Green
20. Glenn L. Benner II (7 February 2006) Trina Bowser, Cynthia Sedgwick
21. Joseph L. Clark (4 May 2006) David Manning
22. Rocky Barton (12 July 2006) Kimbirli Jo Barton
23. Darrell Ferguson (8 August 2006) David A. Gowdown, Dennis J. Langer, Jeffrey M. Welbaum
24. Jeffrey Lundgren (24 October 2006) Dennis Avery, Cheryl Avery, Trina Avery, Rebecca Avery, Karen Avery
25. James J. Filiaggi (24 April 2007) Lisa Huff Filiaggi
26. Christopher J. Newton (24 May 2007) Jason Brewer
27. Richard Cooey (October 14, 2008) Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery
28. Gregory Bryant-Bey (November 19, 2008) Dale Pinkelman
29. Daniel E. Wilson (June 3, 2009) Carol Lutz
30. John Fautenberry (July 14, 2009) Joseph Daron Jr.
31. Marvallous Keene (July 21, 2009) Joseph Wilkerson, Danita Gullette, Sarah Abraham, Marvin Washington, Wendy Cottrill
32. Jason Getsy (August 18, 2009) Ann R. Serafino
33. Kenneth Biros (December 8, 2009) Tami Engstrom
34. Vernon Lamont Smith (January 7, 2010) Sohail Darwish
35. Mark Aaron Brown (February 4, 2010) Isam Salman, Hayder Al Tuyrk
36. Lawrence Reynolds Jr. (March 16, 2010) Loretta Mae Foster
37. Darryl Durr (April 20, 2010) Angel Vincent
38. Michael Francis Beuke (May 14, 2010) Michael Craig
39. William Garner (July 13, 2010) Deondra Freeman, Richard Gaines, Markeca Mason, Mykkila Mason, and Denitra Satterwhite
State v. Garner, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1994 WL 466508 (Ohio App. 1994). (Direct Appeal)
This cause came on to be heard upon the appeal, the transcript of the docket, journal entries and original papers from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, the transcript of the proceedings, and the briefs and arguments of counsel.
On January 26, 1992, defendant-appellant William L. Garner was present in the emergency-room area of University Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ms. Addie Mack, who was receiving treatment following a fall, left her purse near the public telephone. Appellant stole the purse and removed Ms. Mack's keys, driver's license and wallet. He then called a taxicab and told the driver to take him to Ms. Mack's townhouse at 1969 Knob Court. Present in the townhouse were Ms. Mack's four children, her niece and a family friend. The children ranged from ten years of age to thirteen years of age.
When appellant arrived at the Mack home he went inside, leaving a billfold which did not belong to him with the cab driver as collateral for the payment of his fare. Appellant entered the townhouse with Ms. Mack's key. When one of the children woke up, appellant gave her a glass of water. Appellant carried several items from the home and put them into the cab. The items included a telephone, a video cassette recorder, a radio, some video tapes and a television. Appellant explained the stolen items to the cab driver by stating that he had a fight with his girlfriend who “threw him out” and that, therefore, he was removing his belongings.
After removing the stolen property, appellant returned to the townhouse and set three separate fires. Two of the fires were set in upstairs bedrooms. The third fire was set on the sofa downstairs. Appellant set the fires in spite of the fact that he knew six children were present in the house. Five of the children died from smoke inhalation. Only Ms. Mack's oldest child, thirteen-year-old Rodriguez, escaped the fires.
Upon leaving Ms. Mack's home, appellant instructed the cab driver to take him to a United Dairy Farmers' store so he could purchase some snacks, and then to his home at 3250 Burnet Avenue. The driver helped appellant unload the stolen property and carry it into his home. Appellant then gave the cab driver Ms. Mack's television to cover the cab fare.
During the investigation of the fires, it became apparent that several items had been stolen from the Mack home. Two police officers who had received a radio run to an address near the Mack townhouse recalled seeing someone loading several items into a taxicab just prior to the fires. The cab driver was located and Ms. Mack's television was recovered. The cab driver gave police the address where he had taken appellant. Police obtained a search warrant for appellant's home. Upon executing the warrant, police recovered several items of Ms. Mack's property. A search of appellant's jacket incident to his arrest revealed items stolen from Ms. Mack's purse, including the birth certificates of her children.
Appellant gave police a taped statement wherein he admitted the facts set forth above, but denied any purpose to kill the children. Appellant maintained that he set the fires to cover evidence of the burglary. He stated that he thought the children would smell the smoke, wake up and escape the fires.
Appellant was indicted for five counts of aggravated murder. Each aggravated murder count carried three capital specifications: (1) that the killing was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial or punishment for aggravated burglary; (2) that the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of more than one person; and (3) that the offense was committed while appellant was committing or fleeing immediately after committing the offenses of aggravated burglary and aggravated arson and that appellant was the principal offender or acted with prior calculation and design. Appellant was also charged with one count of aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated arson, one count of theft with two prior theft convictions, and two counts of receiving stolen property with two prior theft convictions.
Appellant filed a motion to suppress his statement and certain physical evidence which the trial court overruled. Appellant pleaded no contest to and was found guilty by the trial court of the theft and the receiving-stolen-property charges. Following a jury trial, appellant was found guilty as charged on the remaining counts.
During the mitigation phase of the trial appellant presented the testimony of several witnesses as well as his own unsworn statement. Appellant was nineteen years old when the offenses were committed. He is the youngest of six children, including his twin brother. Shortly after he was born, appellant was returned to the hospital due to “failure to thrive.”
Throughout appellant's childhood, the children were often without proper food and they had to subsist on “sugar bread.” At the age of four, appellant would go to the grocery store with his twin brother to carry bags for tips in order to buy food. On some occasions, the children had to steal food to eat. Appellant's mother stole money from the children and “went out with it” instead of buying food.
At one point, appellant's mother put her children into foster homes while she was hospitalized on a psychiatric ward. The children were beaten regularly. An infant sister was killed by one of appellant's mother's boyfriends before appellant was born. Appellant's older sister was raped by one of the mother's husbands. Another boyfriend intentionally scalded the feet of appellant's brother, permanently disfiguring them. Appellant, his sister and his twin brother were beaten and raped by an older brother. One of the mother's husbands was an alcoholic. On some occasions, the children were forced to help their mother beat her boyfriends.
No interest was shown in the children's schoolwork or activities. Appellant began to do poorly in school when he was separated from his twin brother.
Appellant also presented expert testimony in mitigation. Psychologists Nancy Schmidtgoessling and Jeffrey Smalldon testified that appellant suffers from organic brain impairment and has an IQ of 76, which is in the borderline range of intellectual functioning. Dr. Smalldon concluded that appellant has a residual attention disorder, borderline intellectual functioning and a mixed personality disorder with borderline antisocial features. Psychologist Joseph Schroeder testified on behalf of the state as to appellant's learning disability and lack of organic brain damage.
Appellant gave an unsworn statement in which he stated that he did not intend to kill the five children. He also stated that he had been abused by his older brother at an early age and that he loved his mother even though she may have been mean to him.
Following the mitigation hearing, the jury recommended the imposition of the death sentence. The trial court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced appellant to death on the aggravated murder counts. Appellant was sentenced to consecutive terms on all other counts. A timely notice of appeal was filed.
Appellant seeks reversal of his convictions and death sentence, advancing twenty-three assignments of error. In reviewing a death penalty case pursuant to R.C. 2929.05, we must first address each of appellant's assignments of error. Next, we must independently decide whether the aggravating circumstances of which appellant was found guilty outweigh any mitigating factors. Finally, we must determine whether the sentence of death is appropriate after considering whether it is excessive or disproportionate to the penalties imposed in similar cases.
Having reviewed the record and the pertinent legal authorities, we hold that no error prejudicial to appellant occurred and overrule the assignments of error. We further hold that the aggravating circumstances of which appellant was found guilty outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the sentence of death is appropriate.
Turning to the twenty-three assignments of error raised by appellant, we first address those which concern pretrial matters.
Appellant's eighteenth assignment of error alleges the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress his tape recorded statement and any other statements given by appellant to police. Appellant's assertion that his statement was involuntary because the police failed to inform him that he was “capitally eligible” is overruled on the authority of State v. Bell (1976), 48 Ohio St.2d 270, 358 N.E.2d 556, reversed on other grounds (1978), 438 U.S. 637, 98 S.Ct. 2977.
Appellant also argues that his statement should have been suppressed because there is some question as to when he was advised of his Miranda rights. The advice-of-rights form indicates that it was given at 1445 hours (2:45 p.m.); however appellant indicated on the bottom of the form that he signed it at 1:47 p.m. In his taped statement, which began at 2:27 p.m., appellant stated that he had already signed the waiver-of-rights form. The police officers testified that the officer who wrote 1445 hours merely made a mistake and that the correct time was 1:45 p.m. Further, the officers testified that appellant was advised of his rights prior to giving the taped statement.
Based upon the evidence presented, we hold that the trial court was justified in finding that appellant was properly advised of his rights prior to making his statement. The eighteenth assignment of error is overruled.
For his nineteenth assignment of error, appellant alleges that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress identification evidence. Appellant argues that the photographic arrays shown to the taxicab driver by police were unduly suggestive because: (1) appellant's photograph was the only one to appear in both of two separate arrays shown to the driver; and (2) only appellant's photograph was of a man substantially shorter than six feet.
In order to suppress identification evidence, the movant's burden includes a showing of “a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification.” Simmons v. United States (1968), 390 U.S. 377, 384, 88 S.Ct. 967, 971. If the identification is reliable under the totality of the circumstances, the identification evidence will not be suppressed. Neil v. Biggers (1972), 409 U.S. 188, 93 S.Ct. 375. In this aspect of the movant's burden, the focus is on the reliability of the identification, not the identification procedures. State v. Jells (1990), 53 Ohio St.3d 22, 27, 559 N.E.2d 464, 470, certiorari denied (1991), 498 U.S. 1111, 111 S.Ct. 1020; State v. Lott (1990), 51 Ohio St.3d 160, 174, 555 N.E.2d 293, 308, certiorari denied (1990), 498 U.S. 1017, 111 S.Ct. 591. The factors to be considered in evaluating the likelihood of misidentification include the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime, the witness's degree of attention, the accuracy of the witness's prior description of the criminal, the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the confrontation, and the length of time between the crime and the confrontation. Neil v. Biggers, supra; State v. Jells, supra.
The record reveals that the taxicab driver was initially shown a photographic array which did not include a photograph of appellant. The driver stated that one of the photos looked like the perpetrator but was not him. Police then obtained a surveillance tape from the United Dairy Farmers' store where appellant had purchased his snacks. The driver identified appellant on the tape by his clothing. Subsequently, the driver was shown two separate photo arrays. Each array contained a different picture of appellant. The driver picked appellant's photograph out of each array. In addition, the driver testified that his in-court identification was based upon the contact he had with appellant on the night of the murders.
The taxicab driver was with appellant for an extended period of time on the night the crimes were committed. He paid particular attention to appellant because he was afraid appellant would leave without paying his fare. The length of time between the crimes and the driver's identification of appellant was only two to three hours.
We hold that the trial court did not err in denying appellant's motion to suppress identification evidence not only because the identification was reliable under the totality of the circumstances, but also because the identification procedures themselves were not unduly suggestive. The assignment of error is overruled.
Appellant's twentieth assignment of error alleges that the trial court erred in denying appellant's motion to suppress the stolen items seized from his residence by police. Appellant contends that the evidence should have been suppressed because it was seized pursuant to a search warrant which was based upon information given to police by the taxicab driver who was not known by police to be a reliable informant.
The assignment of error is overruled. The arguments advanced and cases cited by appellant deal with police informants. The taxicab driver was a named citizen who had witnessed a crime. Appellant has not cited any authority which holds that the information given to police by citizen witnesses to crimes must be treated in the same manner as that given to police by unnamed informants. In addition, the police in the case sub judice knew that crimes had been committed prior to obtaining the information from the driver. The cases cited by appellant involved “tips” to police that crimes were or had been taking place.
We now turn to the assignments of error raised by appellant concerning the guilt phase of the trial. In his fifteenth assignment of error appellant alleges that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to increase the number of peremptory challenges allowed the defense.
Crim.R. 24(C) provides that “if there is one defendant, each party peremptorily may challenge * * * six jurors in capital cases.” Claims for challenges in excess of those provided in the rule have been raised and rejected in State v. Mills (1992), 62 Ohio St.3d 357, 582 N.E.2d 972, certiorari denied (1992), 505 U.S. 1227, 112 S.Ct. 3048, 60 U.S.L.W. 3879, and in State v. Greer (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 236, 530 N.E.2d 382, certiorari denied (1989), 490 U.S. 1028, 109 S.Ct. 1766. The record reveals that appellant was afforded the requisite six challenges. The assignment of error is overruled.
In his eleventh assignment of error, appellant contends that the trial court improperly excluded prospective jurors during voir dire because of their general opposition to the death penalty. We hold the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excusing the prospective jurors because it is clear from the record that their views would have prevented or substantially impaired their ability to serve as jurors in accordance with their instructions and oaths. See State v. Mills, supra at 364365, 582 N.E.2d at 981; State v. DePew (1988), 38 Ohio St.3d 275, 280, 528 N.E.2d 542, 549, certiorari denied (1989), 489 U.S. 1042, 109 S.Ct. 1099; State v. Steffen (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 111, 120, 509 N.E.2d 383, 393, certiorari denied (1988), 485 U.S. 916, 108 S.Ct. 1089. The eleventh assignment of error is overruled.
Appellant's fourteenth assignment of error alleges that the trial court erred in failing to permit defense counsel to question prospective jurors as to whether they would consider appellant's age as a mitigating factor. “The scope of voir dire is within the trial court's discretion and varies depending on the circumstances of each case.” State v. Bedford (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 122, 129, 529 N.E.2d 913, 920-921, certiorari denied (1989), 489 U.S. 1072, 109 S.Ct. 1357, citing State v. Anderson (1972), 30 Ohio St.2d 66, 73, 282 N.E.2d 568, 572. The record reveals that the trial court permitted defense counsel to inquire as to whether the prospective jurors would consider age as a mitigating factor if they were instructed by the judge to do so. In addition, on several occasions during voir dire defense counsel asked the question about age without objection by the prosecution. It is clear from the voir dire that the jurors who were questioned on the age issue stated that they would consider age as a mitigating factor if the trial court instructed them to do so.
Reviewing the entire voir dire, we hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and that appellant was not denied a fair and impartial jury. The assignment of error is overruled.
In his twelfth assignment of error, appellant alleges that various instances of prosecutorial misconduct in the guilt phase deprived him of a fair trial. In State v. Maurer (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 239, 266, 473 N.E.2d 768, 793, certiorari denied (1985), 472 U.S. 1012, 105 S.Ct. 2714, the Ohio Supreme Court held:
In general terms, the conduct of a prosecuting attorney cannot be made a ground of error unless that conduct deprives the defendant of a fair trial.
The first instance of prosecutorial misconduct alleged by appellant occurred during voir dire when the prospective jurors were being questioned as to where they would fall on a “death penalty scale.” The prosecutor stated that he would “rank about a six or seven.” (T.p. 523.) Defense counsel objected to the prosecutor's remark. The trial court sustained the objection and ordered the remark stricken.
Appellant also complains about the prosecutor's remark to prospective jurors in voir dire about photographs of the dead children. The prosecutor stated: Although there is some charring, more smoke than charring on any of the children. The pictures aren't as terrible as they could have been possibly. (T.p. 745.) Defense counsel's objection to the remark was sustained by the trial court and the jury was instructed to disregard it.
Appellant also complains that the state improperly commented on appellant's mental state when the prosecutor stated: Do you all understand that the defendant, we can't try defendants who are incompetent or insane? And he wouldn't be on trial if he was? Do you understand that? * * * And again basically you all understand that as the defendant stands in the courtroom at this time he's competent to stand trial. (T.p. 537-538.) Defense counsel's objection to these remarks by the prosecutor was overruled.
The last instance of alleged prosecutorial misconduct occurred during closing argument at the guilt phase. The prosecutor stated: As regards ( sic ) to William Garner's intent in the early morning hours of January 26, 1992, what did he intent ( sic ) to do with ( sic ) when he set those fires? You know it as you sit right here in this jury box. I know it. They know it he knows it. It was to kill those children. (T.p. 1525.) The trial court sustained the objection to the prosecutor's comment about defense counsel's knowledge of appellant's intent.
We note that the trial court sustained defense counsel's objections in three of the four instances of which appellant complains. After reviewing the alleged instances of prosecutorial misconduct individually and collectively in the context of the record, we hold that appellant was not deprived of a fair trial. Further, we hold that it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would have recommended the sentence of death even absent the prosecutor's remarks. See State v. Beuke (1988), 38 Ohio St.3d 29, 33, 526 N.E.2d 274, 280, certiorari denied (1989), 489 U.S. 1071, 109 S.Ct. 1356. The assignment of error is overruled.
For his thirteenth assignment of error appellant alleges that the trial court erred in refusing to grant appellant's motion for a mistrial when a police officer referred to prior arrests of appellant. While the prosecutor was questioning one of the police officers on direct examination, the following exchange took place: A. We proceeded to take the statement that [the taxicab driver] gave me. I then talked with a supervisor and advised him of the address location where the subject was dropped off. I then proceeded to do a follow-up with that address to see if I could obtain a name or address or phone number on that individual house. Q. Were you able to do that? A. That is correct, I was. Q. What name did you come up with at that time? A. I ran the phone number that was at the residence at 3250 Burnet Avenue and it came back William Garner using that address in one of his arrests. (T.p. 1304-1305.)
The trial court sustained defense counsel's objection and instructed the jury: THE COURT: For the record, there is an objection before the Court with regards to the last question. I'm going to sustain the objection to that question and I will instruct the jury at this time that you are to disregard both the question and answer as they have been given. (T.p. 1307-1308.)
In determining whether the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to order a mistrial, we are guided by State v. Widner (1981), 68 Ohio St.2d 188, 190, 429 N.E.2d 1065, 1067, certiorari denied (1982), 456 U.S. 934, 102 S.Ct. 1988, which holds that a mistrial should be granted if (1) there is a high degree of necessity for ordering the mistrial; (2) the trial judge has no reasonable alternative to declaring a mistrial; and (3) the public interest in fair trials designed to end in just judgments is best served by ordering a mistrial.
Applying the Widner criteria to the instant case, we hold that the sustaining of defense counsel's objection and the giving of the curative instruction to the jury were reasonable alternatives to granting a mistrial. Under the circumstances, appellant was not deprived of a fair trial. We hold the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to declare a mistrial. The assignment of error is overruled.
Appellant's sixteenth and seventeenth assignments of error allege that his convictions are based upon insufficient evidence and are against the manifest weight of the evidence. The assignments are overruled because following a complete review of the record we hold that substantial evidence was offered by the state in support of all the elements of the offenses charged and that the evidence was of sufficient probative value to sustain the convictions. See State v. Barnes (1986), 25 Ohio St.3d 203, 209, 495 N.E.2d 922, 927, certiorari denied (1987), 480 U.S. 926, 107 S.Ct. 1388.
We now deal with the assignments of error raised by appellant which refer to the sentencing phase of the trial. Appellant's first assignment of error alleges that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to merge the R.C. 2929.04(A)(3) capital specification to each aggravated murder count, which alleged that the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial or punishment for aggravated burglary, with the R.C. 2929.04(A)(7) capital specification to each aggravated murder count, which alleged that the offense was committed while appellant was committing or fleeing immediately after committing the offenses of aggravated burglary and aggravated arson and that appellant was the principal offender or acted with prior calculation and design.
In State v. Jenkins (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 164, 473 N.E.2d 264, paragraph five of the syllabus, certiorari denied (1985), 472 U.S. 1032, 105 S.Ct. 3514, the Ohio Supreme Court held: In the penalty phase of a capital prosecution, where two or more aggravating circumstances arise from the same act or indivisible course of conduct and are thus duplicative, the duplicative aggravating circumstances will be merged for purposes of sentencing. Should this merging of aggravating circumstances take place upon appellate review of a death sentence, resentencing is not automatically required where the reviewing court independently determines that the remaining aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt and that the jury's consideration of duplicative aggravating circumstances in the penalty phase did not affect the verdict.
In the case sub judice, the aggravating circumstances under R.C. 2929.04(A)(3) and 2929.04(A)(7) arose from the same act or course of conduct, the setting of the fires which killed the five children. However, any error which may have occurred in the failure to merge the aggravating circumstances will be cured by our independent review pursuant to R.C. 2929.05. See State v. Jenkins, supra; State v. Wiles (1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 71, 571 N.E.2d 97, certiorari denied (1992), 506 U.S. 832, 113 S.Ct. 99, 61 U.S.L.W. 3257; State v. Dunlap (July 27, 1994), Hamilton App. No. C-930121, unreported. The assignment of error is overruled.
In his second, third, fourth and fifth assignments of error appellant alleges that the trial court erred in (1) instructing the jury on the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor, which appellant did not raise; (2) overruling defense counsel's objections to the admission of evidence on the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor; (3) denying appellant's motions for mistrial and for sentencing to life imprisonment after the admission of evidence of the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor; and (4) overruling appellant's motions to prohibit the prosecutor from arguing and the trial court from instructing the jury as to mitigating factors not raised by the defense. Appellant argues that the accused has the exclusive right to raise mitigating factors. Further, appellant argues that because he expressly advised the trial court that he was not raising the mitigating factor contained in R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) (whether, at the time of committing the offense, the offender, because of a mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law), the trial court erred in allowing the prosecutor to inject it into the case.
The defendant has the right to present and argue the mitigating factors. No comment on any mitigating factors not raised by the defense is permissible. State v. DePew, supra at 289, 528 N.E.2d at 557.
Appellant's mitigation hearing was held from October 13 through October 16, 1992. On October 13, defense counsel filed two requests for jury instructions which specifically included requests for instructions on the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor. After the mitigation hearing was in progress and the psychologists had testified, defense counsel withdrew the requests for jury instructions on the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor. The trial court stated that the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) instruction would be given because the issue had been raised by the evidence elicited in the mitigation hearing. We hold that under the circumstances of this case, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury on the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor. Assignments of error two, three, four and five are overruled.
The sixth assignment of error, alleging that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as to the mitigating factor of residual doubt, is overruled. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a similar argument in State v. Grant (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 465, 481, 620 N.E.2d 50, 67-68, and held the trial court did not err in failing to give the defendant's proposed jury instruction on residual doubt, stating:
Residual doubt is a mitigating factor included within the “other factors” of R.C. 2929.04(B)(7), and is appropriately considered with the other mitigating factors, and is not to be applied separately after the jury balances aggravating circumstances and mitigating factors.
Appellant's seventh assignment of error, which alleges that the trial court erred in overruling his request for a jury instruction on the mitigating factor of mercy, is overruled on the authority of State v. Lorraine (1993), 66 Ohio St.3d 414, 417, 613 N.E.2d 212, 216, certiorari denied (1994), 510 U.S. 1054, 114 S.Ct. 715, 62 U.S.L.W. 3452, wherein the Ohio Supreme Court held that: Permitting a jury to consider mercy, which is not a mitigating factor and thus irrelevant to sentencing, would violate the well-established principle that the death penalty must not be administered in an arbitrary, capricious or unpredictable manner.
Appellant's eighth assignment of error alleges that various instances of prosecutorial misconduct in the sentencing phase of the trial deprived him of a fair trial. We have examined the instances of alleged prosecutorial misconduct and we hold that the conduct of the prosecuting attorney did not deprive appellant of a fair trial and that it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would have recommended the death penalty even absent the prosecutor's remarks. The assignment of error is overruled. See State v. Beuke, supra; State v. Maurer, supra.
Appellant's ninth assignment of error alleges that the trial court erred in imposing the death sentence because (1) the trial court based the imposition of the sentence upon the nonstatutory aggravating factor of the nature and circumstances of the offense, (2) the trial court gave insufficient consideration to valid mitigating factors, (3) the trial court considered the nonexistence of some mitigating factors as aggravating circumstances and (4) the trial court failed to state the reasons why the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appellant complains that the trial court referred to the facts and circumstances of the offenses in determining whether the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors. The nature and circumstances of the offense are not a statutory aggravating factor and cannot be considered as such. State v. Lott, supra at 171, 555 N.E.2d at 304-305; State v. Davis (1988), 38 Ohio St.3d 361, 370-372, 528 N.E.2d 925, 933-936, certiorari denied (1989), 488 U.S. 1034, 109 S.Ct. 849. However, “a trial court * * * may rely upon and cite the nature and circumstances of the offense as reasons supporting its finding that the aggravating circumstances were sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors.” State v. Stumpf (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 512 N.E.2d 598, paragraph one of the syllabus, certiorari denied (1988), 484 U.S. 1079, 108 S.Ct. 1060.
Appellant also contends that the trial court did not adequately set forth the reasons why the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors. Any error which may have occurred in the trial court's failure to engage in a more explicit analysis will be rectified by our independent reweighing of the aggravating circumstances against any mitigating factors. See State v. Lott, supra at 171-172, 555 N.E.2d at 305. The ninth assignment of error is overruled.
For his tenth assignment of error, appellant alleges that the trial court erred in imposing the sentence of death because the state failed to prove that the aggravating circumstances of which appellant was found guilty outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. The assignment of error is overruled because we conclude from our independent review, mandated by R.C.2929.05(A) and discussed in a later section of this decision, that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances attached to each homicide count, weighed separately, outweighed the mitigating factors.
We now deal with appellant's remaining assignments of error. Appellant's twenty-first assignment of error alleges that the cumulative effect of all the errors of which he complains was to deprive him of a fair trial. For the reasons set forth under appellant's first twenty assignments of error, the twenty-first assignment of error is overruled.
Appellant's twenty-second assignment of error alleges the trial court erred in imposing the death sentence because it is disproportionately severe. The assignment is overruled. We note that there is no federally mandated proportionality review. State v. Smith (1991), 61 Ohio St.3d 284, 574 N.E.2d 510, certiorari denied (1992), 502 U.S. 1110, 112 S.Ct. 1211, 60 U.S.L.W. 3579. The remainder of this assignment of error will be discussed in our proportionality review mandated by R.C. 2929.05.
Appellant's twenty-third assignment of error alleges that the Ohio death penalty statutes are unconstitutional, violating the Eight Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process, and the concomitant provisions of the Ohio Constitution. These claims, as set forth in footnote one infra, have been addressed and rejected by Ohio Supreme Court decisions. See State v. Sowell (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 322, 530 N.E.2d 1294, certiorari denied (1988), 490 U.S. 1028, 109 S.Ct. 1766; State v. Beuke, supra; State v. Zuern (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 56, 512 N.E.2d 585, certiorari denied (1988), 484 U.S. 1047, 108 S.Ct. 786; State v. Steffen, supra; State v. Jenkins, supra; State v. Mills, supra. “When issues of law in capital cases have been considered and decided by this court and are raised anew in a subsequent capital case, it is proper to summarily dispose of such issues in the subsequent case.” State v. Poindexter (1988), 36 Ohio St.3d 1, 520 N.E.2d 568, syllabus, certiorari denied (1988), 488 U.S. 916, 109 S.Ct. 272. Each of appellant's claims is overruled.FN1
FN1. Accompanying appellant's assignment of error are the following arguments:(A) The death penalty is so totally without penological justification that it results in the gratuitous infliction of suffering and that, consequently, there is no rational state interest served by the ultimate sanction;
(B) Both locally, statewide and nationally, the death penalty is inflicted disproportionately upon those who kill whites as opposed to those who kill blacks and, even within Hamilton County, the death penalty is selectively imposed, rendering the penalty as applied in Hamilton County arbitrary and capricious on the one hand, and the product of racial discrimination on the other;
(C) The use of the same operative fact to first elevate what would be “ordinary” murder to aggravated murder, and then to capital, death-eligible aggravated murder permits the state (1) to obtain a death sentence upon less proof in a felony murder case than in a case involving prior calculation and design, although both crimes are ostensibly equally culpable under the Revised Code, and (2) fails to narrow the capital class to those murderers for whom the death penalty is constitutionally appropriate;
(D) The requirement that a jury must recommend death upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances outweigh only to the slightest degree the mitigating circumstances renders the Ohio capital statutes quasi-mandatory and permits the execution of an offender even though the mitigating evidence falls just short of equipoise with the aggravating factors, with the result that the risk of putting someone to death when it is practically as likely as not that he deserves to live renders the Ohio capital process arbitrary and capricious, and, in the absence of a requirement that, before death may be imposed, aggravating factors must substantially outweigh mitigating factors, unconstitutional;
(E) The Ohio capital statutes are constitutionally infirm in that they do not permit the extension of mercy by the jury even though aggravating factors may only slightly outweigh mitigating factors;
(F) The provisions of Crim.R. 11(C)(3) permitting a trial court to dismiss specifications upon a guilty plea only under the nebulous and undefined concept “in the interests of justice” (1) needlessly encourages guilty pleas and the concomitant waiver of the right to jury, to compulsory process and to confrontation and (2) reintroduces the possibility that the death sentence will be imposed arbitrarily and capriciously;
(G) The Ohio capital sentencing scheme is unconstitutional because it provides no standards for sentencing or review at several significant stages of the process and consequently death sentences are imposed, and reviewed, without sufficient statutory guidance to juries, trial courts and reviewing courts to prevent the unconstitutional arbitrary and capricious infliction of the death penalty.
Having reviewed and overruled each of the assignments of error raised by appellant, we now turn to our independent review to determine whether the aggravating circumstances in each murder count outweigh the mitigating factors. R.C. 2929.05(A).
The evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt the aggravating circumstances the jury found to exist. Specifically, each offense was (1) committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial or punishment for aggravated burglary; (2) part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of more than one person; and (3) committed while appellant was committing or fleeing immediately after committing the offenses of aggravated burglary and aggravated arson, and appellant was the principal offender or acted with prior calculation and design. For purposes of our review, the first specification is merged with the third specification on each count.
The mitigating factors to be considered are those found in the nature and circumstances of the offenses, the history, background and character of appellant and any other applicable factors listed in R.C. 2929.04(B)(1) through (7). <_P>The nature and circumstances of the offenses are heinous and we hold that they are entitled to no weight in mitigation. The mitigating factors presented by appellant as set forth previously in this decision include his youth-appellant was only nineteen at the time of the offenses-which is entitled to some weight.
The record demonstrates that appellant was raised in an unstable and often violent home. No interest was taken in his schooling or other activities. Appellant was subjected to hunger, beatings and sexual abuse. He has an IQ of 76, which is in the borderline range of intellectual functioning, and may suffer from organic brain damage. Appellant also suffers from a residual attention disorder and a mixed personality disorder with borderline antisocial features. All of these factors are entitled to some weight in mitigation.
After weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors, we hold that the aggravating circumstances clearly and beyond a reasonable doubt outweigh the evidence presented by appellant in mitigation.
Finally, we must determine whether appellant's death sentence is appropriate based upon whether it is excessive or disproportionate to the death penalty as it has been imposed in other cases in Hamilton County. R.C. 2929.05(A); State v. Steffen, supra. We have compared the facts and circumstances in this case with our previous death-penalty decisions. Based upon that review, we hold that the sentence of death imposed herein is neither excessive nor disproportionate, and that it is an appropriate sentence.
In conclusion, we hold that appellant's twenty-three assignments of error are without merit. We further hold that the aggravating circumstances of this case outweigh any and all mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, we hold that the sentence of death is appropriate in this case, as it is neither excessive nor disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases.
We therefore affirm appellant's convictions and the sentence of death imposed upon him. SHANNON, P.J., KLUSMEIER and GORMAN, JJ.
State v. Garner, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1997 WL 778982 (Ohio App. 1997). (Postconviction Relief)
Following the affirmance on direct appeal of his conviction for aggravated murder with a death sentence, defendant-appellant, William L. Garner, filed a postconviction petition to vacate or set aside the sentence pursuant to R.C. 2953.21. The trial court denied his petition for postconviction relief, and appellant now appeals from that ruling.
On January 26, 1992, five children were killed in a fire, which was intentionally set by appellant. Appellant had stolen the purse belonging to Addie Mack while she was being treated at a local hospital's emergency room and used the keys from inside the purse to enter Ms. Mack's apartment, where six children were sleeping on the second floor. Appellant took several items from the apartment by transporting them to a cab waiting outside. Appellant explained the stolen items to the cab driver by stating that he had fought with his girlfriend and that he was taking his belongings.
After removing the property, appellant went back inside the apartment and set three fires, despite his knowledge that the children were present in the home. Five of the children died from smoke inhalation, while one was able to escape to safety. Appellant directed the cab driver to a nearby convenience store and then to his home. The driver helped appellant unload the stolen items and was given a television set from Ms. Mack's apartment for the cab fare.
The cab driver was interviewed later that morning by police. Investigators were led to the cab driver based on information provided by two police officers who had observed the cab outside the apartment just prior to the time that the fatal fire was reported. The cab driver provided the police with appellant's address, and a search warrant was issued. During the search, appellant was arrested.
Appellant provided the police with a taped statement, wherein he confessed to the theft offenses and stated that he set the couch on fire to create a “smoke screen” and to cover fingerprints he suspected he had left behind. He told police that he believed that the children would smell the fire and retreat to safety.
Appellant was charged with five counts of aggravated felony-murder. Each count included three death-penalty specifications. In addition, appellant was charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated arson. A jury found appellant guilty as charged and returned a death-sentence recommendation, which was accepted by the trial court. Both this court and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed appellant's convictions.
As noted above, this appeal involves the denial by the trial court of appellant's petition for postconviction relief under R.C. 2953.21. Appellant asserted eight claims for relief in the trial court, none of which was found by the court to merit an evidentiary hearing under R.C. 2953.21. Appellant now advances four assignments of error attacking the trial court's ruling, and based on the following, we find that none of the assignments has merit.
The first assignment asserts that the trial court denied appellant due process of law by dismissing, without a hearing and without a proper motion to dismiss, his petition for postconviction relief. Appellant advances several arguments under this assignment, the first being that the state's filing of a “motion for ruling” in response to the petition for postconviction relief filed by appellant constituted an improper responsive pleading which the trial court should have stricken, or, in the alternative, have treated as either a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. Appellant's position is meritless.
R.C. 2953.21 requires nothing of the state in the way of a response to a postconviction petition and permits a court to dismiss the petition in the absence of any response. When a postconviction petition and the record of the case show that the petitioner is entitled to no relief, the common pleas court is authorized under R.C. 2953.21 to summarily dismiss the petition without the benefit of any further submissions by either party. State v. Gipson (Sept. 26, 1997), Hamilton App. Nos. C960867 and C-960881, unreported; State v. Williams (Aug. 1, 1997), Hamilton App. No. C-960822, unreported.
We accordingly hold that the state's filing of the motion, however titled by the state, was not improper, as it is clear from the record that it served to “merely [bring] to the court's attention” the legal basis for dismissal and “added nothing to what the court, presumptively, already knew and was otherwise required to apply to the claims set forth in the petition before it.” Williams, supra; see, also, State v. Gipson, supra.
Appellant also attacks the trial court's application of the doctrine of res judicata to bar some of his claims for relief. Appellant's argument that res judicata is an affirmative defense that may not be raised by a motion to dismiss or a motion for a ruling has been addressed and rejected by this court in State v. Franklin (Jan. 25, 1995), Hamilton App. No. C-930760, unreported. Appellant also makes a sweeping assertion that the mere submission of evidence dehors the record “will permit issues to be litigated in postconviction that were raised or could have been raised on appeal.” Appellant has failed to specify to which, if any, of his claims for relief his assertion applies; however, because the essence of his postconvicton petition appears to be that trial counsel was ineffective, our response to appellant's general assertion will proceed under an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel analysis.
The record reveals that one of appellant's trial counsel served as one of his counsel for purposes of the direct appeal from his judgment of conviction. The Ohio Supreme Court has acknowledged that appellate counsel who has also served as trial counsel “cannot realistically be expected to argue [on appeal] his own incompetence [at trial]* * *.” See State v. Cole (1982), 2 Ohio St.3d 112, 113, 443 N.E.2d 169, 171, fn. 1. Appellate counsel, predictably, did not raise on direct appeal the issue of trial counsel's competence.
Thus, it was not until the filing of appellant's postconviction petition that the issue of trial counsel's competency first arose. In such a situation, the failure to raise ineffective assistance of trial counsel as an assigned error on direct review does not result in that claim being barred by res judicata. State v. Gipson supra; State v. Cole supra. However, in order to secure a hearing on his petition based upon such a claim, the defendant must proffer evidence which, if believed, would establish not only that his trial counsel had substantially violated at least one of a defense attorney's essential duties to his client, but also that the violation was prejudicial to the defendant. Cole, supra; see, also, State v. Bradley (1989), 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 538 N.E.2d 373. Trial counsel's performance will not be deemed ineffective unless it can be shown that “counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness,” and that “there exists a reasonable probability that, were it not for counsel's error, the results of the trial would have been different.” Bradley, supra at 143, 538 N.E.2d at 380.
We have reviewed the performance of appellant's trial counsel in light of the errors of practice he asserted. We have also reviewed the exhibits submitted dehors the record in support of appellant's petition. We conclude that appellant has failed to point to evidence either within or outside the record which demonstrates that the conduct of his counsel was either ineffective or prejudicial. Consequently, the trial court did not err in denying appellant an evidentiary hearing on his claims asserting ineffective assistance of trial counsel. For the reasons given above, the first assignment of error is overruled.
Appellant's second assignment alleges that the trial court erred by overruling his Civ.R. 60(B)(5) motion for relief from judgment, which was predicated upon appellant's claim that the trial court violated his due process rights by adopting “wholesale” the state's proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law without affording appellant an opportunity to submit his own proposed findings as set forth in Loc.R. 17 of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. This assignment also lacks merit.
Loc.R. 17(B) provides that “when a r equest is duly made for findings of fact and conclusions of law, [the trial court] may direct the party making the written request to prepare findings and then submit them to opposing counsel for an opportunity to make objections and counterproposals.” (Emphasis ours.) The local rule, thus, concerns the discretionary protocol employed by a trial court when addressing requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law. That is not the situation here. Under R.C. 2953.21, requests for proposed findings are not contemplated in postconviction proceedings; instead, the trial court is statutorily required to make findings of fact and conclusions of law if it decides to dismiss a petition for postconviction relief. Accordingly, appellant's argument that Loc.R. 17 was violated by the trial court's actions is misplaced since Loc.R. 17 has no application to postconviction proceedings. See State v. Hawkins (June 26, 1996), Hamilton App. No. C-950130, unreported. Accordingly, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to grant appellant's Civ.R. 60(B)(5) motion.
Appellant's third assignment attacks the trial court's adoption in toto of the state's proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. This court has repeatedly held that a trial court's adoption of the findings of fact and conclusions of law submitted by the state does not, by itself, deprive the petitioner of a meaningful review of the petition for postconviction relief and does not constitute error in the absence of demonstrated prejudice. See State v. Franklin (Jan. 25, 1995), Hamilton App. No. C-930760, unreported. Moreover, we hold that the findings of fact and conclusions of law issued below satisfied the R.C. 2953.21(C) mandate, when they sufficed to apprise appellant and this court of the basis for dismissal. See State ex rel. Carrion v. Harris (1988), 40 Ohio St.3d 19, 530 N.E.2d 1330; State v. Gipson, supra. Accordingly, we overrule the third assignment of error.
The fourth, and final, assignment of error contends that appellant's constitutional rights were violated by the trial court's failure to appoint a psychologist and an attorney to assist in the discovery and development of appellant's postconviction claims. This assignment is overruled, as a petitioner in a postconviction proceeding is not entitled to the appointment of either an attorney or an expert to assist in discovery. See Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), 470 U.S. 68, 105 S.Ct. 1087, 84 L.Ed.2d 53; State v. Crowder (1991), 60 Ohio St.3d 151, 573 N.E.2d 652.
We affirm the judgment of the court of common pleas.
Garner v. Mitchell, 557 F.3d 257 (6th Cir. 2009). (Habeas)
Background: After state conviction and death sentence for felony-murder were affirmed, 74 Ohio St.3d 49, 656 N.E.2d 623, and denial of state post-conviction relief was affirmed, state prisoner filed petition for writ of habeas corpus. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, James L. Graham, J., denied the petition, and prisoner appealed. The Court of Appeals, Moore, Circuit Judge, 502 F.3d 394, reversed and remanded.
Holdings: On rehearing en banc, the Court of Appeals, Rogers, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) prisoner knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights, and (2) prisoner's low intelligence did not render his waiver of his Miranda rights unknowing and involuntary. Affirmed. Daughtrey, Circuit Judge, filed opinion concurring in the result only. Cole, Circuit Judge, filed opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Moore, Circuit Judge, filed dissenting opinion.
ROGERS, Circuit Judge.
Habeas corpus relief was properly denied in this case because William Garner validly waived his Miranda rights, notwithstanding expert testimony-based in part on a test administered six years later-to the effect that Garner mentally could not have sufficiently understood the scope of what Miranda protects. In 1992, Garner burglarized and set fire to an apartment in Cincinnati, Ohio, killing five children who he knew were sleeping inside. After he was arrested and advised of his Miranda rights, Garner agreed to speak with police officers and confessed on tape to setting the fire. The confession was admitted at trial and Garner was eventually convicted by a jury on, among other charges, five counts of aggravated murder, and sentenced to death. The Ohio state courts affirmed Garner's convictions and sentence on direct and collateral review, and Garner filed this 28 U.S.C. § 2254 action in federal district court, raising twenty-three grounds for relief. The district court denied Garner's habeas petition on all twenty-three grounds, and Garner now raises four grounds on appeal, three of which relate to the Miranda waiver. Because the record shows that Garner knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights before he confessed to his crimes, and because Garner's other claims lack merit, Garner is not entitled to habeas relief.
On January 25, 1992, Addie F. Mack visited a local hospital emergency room in Cincinnati, Ohio for treatment. While in the hospital waiting area, Mack called her son to update him on her status, and accidentally left her purse unattended by the pay telephone. Defendant Garner took the purse and removed Mack's keys, driver's license, and wallet. Using the address listed on Mack's driver's license, Garner directed a taxicab to Mack's apartment at 1969 Knob Court. When the taxicab arrived at the apartment, Garner asked the driver, Thomas J. Tolliver, to wait while Garner went inside. Garner provided Tolliver with Mack's wallet as collateral for payment of the cab fare.
Using the keys found in Mack's purse, Garner entered the apartment and noticed four girls sleeping in one bedroom and two boys sleeping in a second bedroom. The children ranged from ten to thirteen years of age. At one point, one of the girls woke up and asked Garner for a glass of water. Garner provided her with water, and the girl watched television for a short time before going back to sleep. Garner carried several items from the apartment to the taxicab, including a VCR, television set, portable telephone, and a “boom box” radio. As he brought the items to the taxicab, Garner explained to Tolliver that he was removing the items because his girlfriend “threw him out” during a fight.
After removing the stolen property, Garner returned to the apartment and set three fires, two in upstairs bedrooms and one on a couch in the living room. Although the two upstairs fires smoldered and eventually went out, the couch fire completely destroyed the contents of the living room and filled the entire apartment with heavy smoke. Mack's oldest child awoke during the fire and was able to escape through a window. The five other children died of smoke inhalation. Upon leaving the apartment, Garner instructed Tolliver to take him to a convenience store, where Garner purchased snacks. The pair then drove to Garner's home at 3250 Burnet Avenue. Tolliver helped Garner carry the stolen items into Garner's home and accepted Mack's television set as payment for the cab fare.
During the investigation of the fire, the police located Tolliver based on information provided by two officers who had observed a person loading items into a taxicab near Mack's apartment shortly before the fire was reported. Tolliver told the officers that he picked up Garner at the hospital emergency room, drove to 1969 Knob Court, and waited outside while Garner entered the apartment and brought several items to the taxicab. Tolliver stated that, thereafter, he drove Garner to the convenience store and then to 3250 Burnet Avenue. After police presented to Tolliver still photographs generated from surveillance video taken at the convenience store, Tolliver identified Garner based on Garner's clothing. Tolliver also identified Garner in two photo arrays that included Garner's photograph, and officers recovered from Tolliver Mack's television set.
Based on the information provided by Tolliver, police obtained a search warrant and searched Garner's Burnet Avenue residence. Officers recovered several items that matched the descriptions given by Tolliver, including a VCR, “boom box” radio, and portable telephone. Officers also recovered Mack's keys and copies of Mack's children's birth certificates. During the search, officers arrested Garner and advised him of his Miranda rights. Garner was transported to police headquarters, where he was again advised of his Miranda rights and presented with a waiver form. Garner agreed to waive his Miranda rights and provided a taped statement recounting the events described above.
In the taped statement, Garner admitted finding Mack's purse and to taking a taxicab to Mack's apartment with the intent to “take her things.” Garner stated that he noticed the children sleeping in the apartment and admitted carrying a number of items from the apartment to the taxicab. Garner confirmed having watched the couch catch fire and explained that he started the fire to cover fingerprints that he had left on the couch. Garner told officers that he believed that the children would smell the smoke and leave the apartment because one child had already been awake and because all of the children were old enough to escape.
On February 3, 1992, Garner was indicted and charged with five counts of aggravated murder, each with three death penalty specifications, one count of aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated arson, one count of theft, and one count of receiving stolen property. Garner pleaded no contest to the theft and receipt-of-stolen-property counts, and the trial court found him guilty on those counts. On October 1, 1992, the jury convicted Garner on the remaining counts and specifications. Following a sentencing hearing, the jury recommended imposition of the death sentence. The state trial court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced Garner to death on the aggravated murder counts and to consecutive terms of imprisonment on all other counts.
On direct review in state court, Garner raised twenty-three assignments of error. The Ohio Court of Appeals and Ohio Supreme Court both affirmed Garner's convictions and sentence, State v. Garner, No. C-920864, 1994 WL 466508 (Ohio Ct.App. Aug.31, 1994); State v. Garner, 74 Ohio St.3d 49, 656 N.E.2d 623 (1995), and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari, Garner v. Ohio, 517 U.S. 1147, 116 S.Ct. 1444, 134 L.Ed.2d 564 (1996). Thereafter, Garner filed two petitions for post-conviction relief in state court. Both petitions were denied by the state trial court, and the denials were affirmed by the state court of appeals. State v. Garner, No. C-960995, 1997 WL 778982 (Ohio Ct.App. Dec.19, 1997); State v. Garner, No. C-990659, 2000 WL 492074 (Ohio Ct.App. Apr.28, 2000). The Ohio Supreme Court declined to exercise jurisdiction to hear both cases. State v. Garner, 81 Ohio St.3d 1497, 691 N.E.2d 1058 (1998); State v. Garner, 90 Ohio St.3d 1404, 734 N.E.2d 835 (2000).
On November 18, 1998, Garner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court, raising twenty-three grounds for relief. The district court ultimately denied all of Garner's claims and dismissed the petition. The district court granted Garner a certificate of appealability on three related claims: (1) that Garner did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights before speaking with police; (2) that Garner's state trial counsel were ineffective for failing to investigate and argue his Miranda claims; and (3) that the state trial court erred by not providing Garner with experts to assist with his Miranda claim. After Garner filed a notice of appeal, this court issued him a certificate of appealability on a fourth claim: that the process by which the petit jury venire was selected discriminated against African-Americans.
The record indicates that Garner knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights, and Garner is therefore not entitled to habeas relief on his Miranda claim. Notwithstanding Garner's failure to exhaust this claim in the state courts, 28 U.S.C. § 2254 permits us to deny his application on the merits.
The totality of the circumstances in this case shows that Garner's waiver was knowing and intelligent. Garner has the burden of establishing that, under the totality of the circumstances, he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his rights before speaking to the police. Clark v. Mitchell, 425 F.3d 270, 283 (6th Cir.2005). “We are also mindful that in a habeas proceeding the petitioner ‘has the burden of establishing his right to federal habeas relief....’ ” Caver v. Straub, 349 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir.2003) (quoting Romine v. Head, 253 F.3d 1349, 1357 (11th Cir.2001)). Under this inquiry, we examine “the particular facts and circumstances surrounding [the] case, including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused.” Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938); see also Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981). The relevant question is not whether the “criminal suspect [knew] and [understood] every possible consequence of a waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege,” but rather whether the “suspect [knew] that he [could] choose not to talk to law enforcement officers, to talk only with counsel present, or to discontinue talking at any time.” Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564, 574, 107 S.Ct. 851, 93 L.Ed.2d 954 (1987).
Here, Garner's conduct before and during the interrogation demonstrates that he understood his Miranda rights and the consequences of waiving those rights. Contemporaneous evidence in the record indicates that Garner appeared “perfectly normal” and “very coherent” at the time that he waived his rights and confessed to his crimes. Officers read Garner the Miranda warnings at least two times before he confessed, and Garner signed and dated a form expressly waiving his rights. It is undisputed that the police officers took care to ensure that Garner understood the warnings and waiver before he signed the form. Officer Feldhaus of the Cincinnati Police Department testified that after reading each provision of the Miranda warnings to Garner, he asked Garner if he understood the meaning of that provision. Each time that he was asked, Garner responded that he understood his rights, including the waiver provision. Further, nothing in the record indicates that Garner verbally expressed a misunderstanding to police officers or otherwise engaged in conduct indicative of a misunderstanding.
Garner's explanation of his conduct during the commission of his crimes moreover served to confirm his capacity to understand the Miranda warnings. While transferring the stolen items from Mack's apartment to the taxicab, Garner explained to Tolliver that his girlfriend “threw him out,” thus necessitating the removal of his personal belongings. Garner also explained to police that he started the couch fire to rid the couch of any fingerprints that he may have left. Both of these statements indicate that Garner had the capacity to understand the criminal nature of his actions and the consequences of those actions. That Garner had this capacity at the time that he committed the crimes suggests that, when questioned about those crimes on the next day, Garner also had the capacity to understand and appreciate the consequences of speaking to police about his criminal conduct. We have held, in the similar context of a challenge to the voluntariness of a confession, that a defendant's capacity to devise a criminal scheme was evidence of capacity to admit to devising the scheme. United States v. Macklin, 900 F.2d 948, 952 (6th Cir.1990); see also United States v. Turner, 157 F.3d 552, 555 (8th Cir.1998) (holding that defendant with low IQ knowingly waived his rights and noting that, at the time that defendant was stopped by police, defendant acted “in a manner more consistent with a person attempting to avoid being caught than a person who did not know what he was doing”); United States v. Solano-Godines, No. 96-10255, 1997 WL 407861, at *3 (9th Cir. July 21, 1997) (holding that waiver was knowing and intelligent where defendant “understood everything else that was going on throughout the day” and made up a “clever story that he was framed”). Accordingly, all evidence in the record of Garner's conduct during, and leading up to, the interrogation indicates that Garner had the capacity to waive his Miranda rights knowingly and intelligently.
It follows from the above that, at the time of the interrogation, police officers had no indication that Garner's “age, experience, education, background, and intelligence” may have prevented him from understanding the Miranda warnings. See Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707, 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560, 61 L.Ed.2d 197 (1979). As discussed, Garner appeared “perfectly normal” and “very coherent” to the interrogating officers. Moreover, in a competency report prepared prior to trial, Dr. Nancy Schmidtgoessling, a clinical psychologist, stated that Garner “appeared to be of near average intelligence by observation,” “appeared to be able to understand all questions and material presented to him,” and that “his expressive language abilities were intact.” Accordingly, even if Garner's mental capacity, background, age, and experience did somehow prevent him from actually understanding the Miranda warnings-and the evidence indicates that they did not-the officers questioning Garner had no way to discern the misunderstanding in Garner's mind. This is of primary significance given the original purpose underlying the Miranda decision, which was to “reduce the likelihood that the suspects would fall victim to constitutionally impermissible practices of police interrogation.” New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, 656, 104 S.Ct. 2626, 81 L.Ed.2d 550 (1984). As the Seventh Circuit explained in a thoughtful opinion:
The relevant constitutional principles are aimed not at protecting people from themselves but at curbing abusive practices by public officers.... [T]he knowledge of the police is vital. If they have no reason (there was none in [ Colorado v.] Connelly, see 479 U.S. [157, 161-62, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ] ) to think that the suspect doesn't understand them, there is nothing that smacks of abusive behavior. It would seem to follow that the question is not whether if [the defendant] were more intelligent, informed, balanced, and so forth he would not have waived his Miranda rights, but whether the police believed he understood their explanation of those rights; more precisely, whether a reasonable state court judge could have found that the police believed this. Rice v. Cooper, 148 F.3d 747, 750-51 (7th Cir.1998).FN1 This analysis is fully consistent with Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 106 S.Ct. 1135, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986), which explained that the Miranda waiver inquiry had two dimensions: voluntariness and comprehension. 475 U.S. at 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135. At no point did the Supreme Court say that one of the two dimensions is to be examined from the perspective of the police while the other is to be examined from the perspective of later scientific inquiry. Instead, both are to be evaluated from the “totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation.” Id. (quoting Fare, 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560). The underlying police-regulatory purpose of Miranda compels that these circumstances be examined, in their totality, primarily from the perspective of the police. Because police had no reason to believe that Garner misunderstood the warnings, and because it is undisputed that the officers were otherwise reasonable and careful in giving the warnings and obtaining the confession, there is no basis for invalidating Garner's Miranda waiver.
FN1. This analysis of course does not mean that the police can disregard signs or even hints that an interrogation suspect does not understand. As the Seventh Circuit explained in Rice, it might be argued that officers are free to recite the standard Miranda warnings to anyone they arrest, regardless of the person's evident mental condition, and to accept the person's waiver. But this has to be wrong, though we cannot find a case that says so. If the suspect is a small child, or if it is apparent that he cannot speak English, then attempting to extract a waiver of Miranda rights is pretty obviously an abusive practice, as it is a calculated, conscious effort to extract a decision that is not the product of a rational choice. And likewise if it is apparent that because of illness, insanity, or mental retardation the suspect is incapable of rationally waiving his Miranda rights. The significance of the principle of Connelly, the principle that the Constitution doesn't protect the suspect against himself, is that if he understands the Miranda warnings yet is moved by a crazy impulse to blurt out a confession, the confession is admissible because it is not a product of coercion. The police have given him his Miranda warnings in an intelligible form; it is not their fault that he is impulsive. It is different, if perhaps only by a shade, if the police question him knowing that he does not understand his rights. 148 F.3d at 750. Thus it would be impossible to read our holding today as suggesting that “a deaf defendant could give a knowing and intelligent waiver when he is given only a mumbled Miranda warning.” (Dissent at 274).
Of course, while our primary focus must remain on what the interrogating officers could have concluded about Garner's ability to understand the warnings, we may consider later-developed evidence of a defendant's actual mental ability to understand the warnings at the time of the interrogation. This is because, if it turns out by subsequent inquiry that a defendant in his mind could not actually understand the warnings, the finder of fact may be more inclined to determine in a close case that the police should have known that the defendant could not understand. Here, however, evidence in the record of Garner's age, experience, education, background, and intelligence does not mandate the conclusion that, even viewed from his internal perspective, Garner could not understand the Miranda warnings. At the time of the waiver, Garner was nineteen years of age. It is undisputed that he had a troubled upbringing, poor education, and that his IQ of 76 placed him in the “borderline range of intelligence.” Testimony during the mitigation hearing indicated that Garner endured physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his family members. Garner and his siblings were often left alone to fend for themselves, and Garner did not perform well in school.
Dr. Jeffrey Smalldon, a clinical psychology expert, concluded in an affidavit prepared for the penalty phase of Garner's trial that Garner's “borderline intelligence, functional (i.e., organic) brain impairment, abusive and socially depraved background, and long history of impulsivity raise serious questions as to whether he could or did understand the consequences of signing the ‘Waiver of Rights.’ ” Dr. Smalldon acknowledged, however, that his assessment suffered from limitations and that a “[m]ore focused assessment would provide better, and perhaps even conclusive, information on this issue.”
In her competency report, Dr. Schmidtgoessling similarly noted that Garner had a long history of hyperactivity and impulsivity, and was “functioning in the borderline range” of intelligence. Even so, upon observing Garner, Dr. Schmidtgoessling remarked that Garner “appeared to be of near average intelligence” and “appeared to be able to understand all questions and material presented to him suggesting that his receptive language is intact.” Dr. Schmidtgoessling concluded that Garner was “familiar with the specifics of the allegations against him” and “was able to give a coherent, realistic account of his behavior relevant to the allegations although his account differed in a couple of major respects ... from the statement made to police.” Schmidtgoessling wrote that Garner understood the roles of the various court personnel, was able to identify his attorneys by name, and defined his attorneys' job as “to speak up for you, argue for you, defend you.”
Additionally, Dr. Schmidtgoessling administered various psychological tests in assessing Garner's competency to stand trial. Garner received an average score on a memory test, and a low average score on a test that measured his nonverbal problem-solving abilities. Garner scored within normal limits on a screening test for perceptual motor functions, in the superior range (90th percentile) on the simple Trail Making Test, and well below average (below the 10th percentile) on a more complex Trail Making Test. Dr. Schmidtgoessling testified that the Trail Making Test is “a special kind of test that's very strong in detecting organic [brain] impairment.” In her report, Dr. Schmidtgoessling concluded that “there are no indications of major mental illness although the question of some sort of organic impairment remains open.”
During federal habeas proceedings, the district court granted Garner's motion to expand the record to include an affidavit and report submitted by Dr. Caroline Everington.FN2 Like Drs. Smalldon and Schmidtgoessling, Dr. Everington concluded that Garner's IQ test scores placed him in the “borderline range of intellectual functioning,” and that psychological reports, social history, and school records indicated that Garner had “intellectual problems during the developmental period” and “difficulties in academic and adaptive functioning.” Dr. Everington's report also assessed Garner's abilities to comprehend the Miranda warnings during his interrogation, and relied heavily on her administration of the so-called Grisso test, discussed more extensively below.
FN2. Because the district court concluded that Dr. Everington's assessments did not warrant further evidentiary hearings, it did not give the state the opportunity either to cross-examine Dr. Everington or to introduce expert evidence to counter her conclusions.
The assessments of Drs. Smalldon, Schmidtgoessling, and Everington indicate that Garner suffered from diminished mental capacity, a troubled upbringing, and a poor education at the time that he confessed to his crimes. These assessments do not demonstrate, however, that Garner was incapable of knowingly and intelligently waiving his Miranda rights. It is well-established, in this circuit and others, that mental capacity is one of many factors to be considered in the totality of the circumstances analysis regarding whether a Miranda waiver was knowing and intelligent. Thus, diminished mental capacity alone does not prevent a defendant from validly waiving his or her Miranda rights. See Clark, 425 F.3d at 283-84; Finley v. Rogers, 116 F. App'x 630, 636-38 (6th Cir.2004); United States v. Rojas-Tapia, 446 F.3d 1, 7-9 (1st Cir.2006); Smith v. Mullin, 379 F.3d 919, 933-34 (10th Cir.2004); Young v. Walls, 311 F.3d 846, 849 (7th Cir.2002); Turner, 157 F.3d at 555-56; Rice, 148 F.3d at 750; Henderson v. DeTella, 97 F.3d 942, 948-49 (7th Cir.1996); Correll v. Thompson, 63 F.3d 1279, 1288 (4th Cir.1995); Starr v. Lockhart, 23 F.3d 1280, 1294 (8th Cir.1994); Derrick v. Peterson, 924 F.2d 813, 824 (9th Cir.1991); Toste v. Lopes, 861 F.2d 782, 783 (2d Cir.1988); Dunkins v. Thigpen, 854 F.2d 394, 399-400 (11th Cir.1988). Rather, that factor must be viewed alongside other factors, including evidence of the defendant's conduct during, and leading up to, the interrogation.
Case law in other circuits is instructive in this regard. For example, in Smith v. Mullin, the Tenth Circuit held that the defendant's Miranda waiver was knowing and intelligent despite the facts that (1) the defendant suffered from borderline mental retardation, and (2) a clinical psychologist had concluded, based on the defendant's Grisso test scores, that the defendant could not have validly waived his rights. 379 F.3d at 932-34. The Tenth Circuit found it significant that the clinical psychologist also testified that the defendant “would understand the role of police officers and the concept of a criminal charge,” and that the Grisso test was administered years after the interrogation. Id. at 933. The court also relied on a videotape showing the defendant's conduct during the interrogation and noted that the defendant had had previous experience with the criminal justice system. Id. at 934. In United States v. Turner, the Eighth Circuit held that the defendant's Miranda waiver was knowing and intelligent even though the defendant's IQ was low-average to borderline, and he was possibly intoxicated by PCP at the time of interrogation and exhibited “bizarre” behavior and possible signs of mental illness after the interrogation. 157 F.3d at 555-56. The court determined that because the defendant was cooperative during the interrogation, gave accurate information, and, when stopped by police, “acted in a manner more consistent with a person attempting to avoid being caught than a person who did not know what he was doing,” the waiver was effective. Id. at 555.
In some cases, courts have concluded that a defendant's limited intellectual capacity contributed to the determination that a waiver was not effective. Frequently, however, those cases also feature some observable indication to police that the defendant was incapable of understanding the Miranda warnings. For example, in United States v. Garibay, 143 F.3d 534, 537-38 (9th Cir.1998), the defendant suffered from a low IQ, but also primarily spoke Spanish and thus did not possess the English skills to understand the Miranda warnings without the assistance of a Spanish-speaking officer. Additionally, an officer that questioned the defendant was forced to rephrase questions when the defendant “did not appear to understand.” Id. at 539. In Cooper v. Griffin, 455 F.2d 1142, 1144-46 (5th Cir.1972), the Fifth Circuit held that neither defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights where both defendants were young boys, aged fifteen and sixteen, who were severely mentally retarded.
In the instant case, Garner's conduct, speech, and appearance at the time of interrogation indicated that his waiver was knowing and intelligent, notwithstanding his diminished mental capacity. Like the defendants in Mullin and Turner, Garner was carefully read his Miranda rights and stated clearly to officers that he understood those rights. Garner agreed to execute a written waiver form, was cooperative during the interrogation, and clearly explained the incident in Mack's apartment. Garner also engaged in conduct prior to being arrested that was “more consistent with a person attempting to avoid being caught than a person who did not know what he was doing.” Turner, 157 F.3d at 555. Garner invented a story about having a fight with his girlfriend to explain to the taxicab driver why he was removing the items from Mack's apartment, and Garner admitted to police that his purpose in lighting the couch on fire was to ensure that he left no fingerprints behind. Finally, at no time did Garner exhibit any outwardly observable indications that he did not understand the warnings or the circumstances surrounding his interrogation. Garner was not a minor, did not have trouble understanding English, and, although his IQ level indicates that he was functioning in the borderline range of intelligence, he was not so mentally retarded that officers had reason to believe that he could not understand his rights.
The assessments of Drs. Smalldon, Schmidtgoessling, and Everington, moreover, do not establish that Garner was incapable of effectively waiving his rights notwithstanding this outward evidence. For instance, Dr. Schmidtgoessling stated in her report that, despite Garner's borderline IQ score, Garner was “familiar with the specifics of the allegations against him” and “was able to give a coherent, realistic account of his behavior relevant to the allegations although his account differed in a couple of major respects ... from the statement made to police.” Dr. Schmidtgoessling also noted that Garner was able to understand the roles of the various court personnel, identify his attorneys by name, and define accurately the duties of his attorneys. Cf. Mullin, 379 F.3d at 933 (finding it significant that defendant “would understand the role of police officers and the concept of a criminal charge”). Although Garner performed well below average on the complex Trail Making Test, he performed in the superior range on the simple Trail Making Test, received an average score on a memory test, a low average score on a test measuring nonverbal problem solving abilities, and a score within normal limits on a screening test for perceptual motor functions. And while Dr. Smalldon concluded in his affidavit that Garner's borderline intellectual functioning “raise[s] serious doubts” about Garner's ability to understand the Miranda warnings, Dr. Smalldon acknowledged that a “[m]ore focused assessment” was necessary. Thus, neither Dr. Smalldon's nor Dr. Schmidtgoessling's assessment provides conclusive evidence that Garner did not understand and appreciate his Miranda rights, and Dr. Schmidtgoessling's assessment offers some evidence that suggests that Garner indeed had the capacity to validly waive his rights.
Finally, Dr. Everington's assessment with regard to Garner's understanding during the police interrogation-which relies on her administration of the so-called Grisso test to Garner six years after his confession-adds little to demonstrate that the confession was not knowing and intelligent. The Grisso test purports to “provide an index of the person's capacity for understanding the Miranda warnings at the time of the evaluation.” Thomas Grisso, Instruments for Assessing Understanding & Appreciation of Miranda Rights 7 (1998). The Grisso test consists of four subtests, styled “instruments,” and named as follows: Comprehension of Miranda Rights (CMR); Comprehension of Miranda Rights-Recognition (CMR-R); Comprehension of Miranda Vocabulary (CMV); and Function of Rights in Interrogation (FRI). Dr. Everington administered the Grisso test in 1998, over six years after Garner was interrogated by police.
The results of the first subtest (CMR) provide little support for concluding that Garner could not adequately understand the Miranda warnings. The first subtest “assesses the examinee's understanding of the Miranda warnings as measured by the examinee's paraphrased description of the warnings.” Id. at 5. The examinee is presented with each of four sentences of the Miranda warning and is invited to tell the examiner “what [the sentence] says in your own words.” Id. at 17. Responses for each of the four sentences are scored 2, 1, or 0, so that the examinee can get a total of 8 points by optimally paraphrasing the four sentences. The Scoring Criteria portion of the test protocol lists several examples of responses that would receive each of the three possible scores. For instance, the first sentence given to the examinee is “You do not have to make a statement and have the right to remain silent.” Id. at 19. One example of a 2-point responding paraphrase is “You can tell them everything if you want, or just not say anything.” One example of a 1-point response is “I would say it's best to say nothing.” One example of a 0-point response is “It means if you don't talk they lock you up” Id. at 23-25. On the CMR subtest, Garner received a score of 6 out of the possible 8 points. Dr. Everington noted that Garner had difficulty in providing “a satisfactory definition for two of the four statements of the warning.” That is, he got half-credit on two of the four questions. This subtest, at least, does not appear to provide support for a conclusion that Garner could not adequately understand Miranda warnings. FN3
FN3. The Grisso manual provides tables for clinical interpretation of an examinee's scores. Garner's scores would have been roughly in the bottom 30% but not in the bottom 20% of the total adult sample on the CMR subtest. Grisso, supra, at 84 tbl.2.
Garner got a perfect score on the second subtest (CMR-R), which “assesses the examinee's understanding of the Miranda warnings as measured by the examinee's ability to identify whether various interpretations provided by the examiner are the same as or different from the warning that was presented.” Id. at 5. “After each warning statement, the examiner asks the examinee to listen to three other statements, .... [and][t]he examinee simply says ‘same’ or ‘different’ after each alternative statement.” Id. On this subtest, Garner received a score of 12 out of 12 points, placing him higher than 64% of a sample of 260 adults. Id. at 85 tbl.3. Dr. Everington noted that Garner's CMR-R score indicated that Garner “did not have difficulty in recognizing the meaning of the warning when presented in a true-false format.” This subtest, it should be noted, is the only one of the four that is objectively graded. Id. at 11.
While Garner did least well on the third subtest (CMV), much of that subtest evaluated Garner's understanding of words more difficult than those actually used in the warnings given to him. The third subtest “assesses the examinee's ability to define six words that appear in the version of the Miranda warnings on which the [Grisso test is] based.” Id. at 5. Those words are consult, attorney, interrogation, appoint, entitled, and right. Id. at 36-44. The examinee is asked to “tell [the examiner] in your own way what the word means.” Id. at 35. As in the first subtest, each response gets a score of 2, 1, or 0, so that there is a possible perfect score of 12. For instance, the first word is consult. According to the scoring criteria, an example of a full-credit (2-point) response is “To help to decide.” An example of a half-credit (1-point) response is “To talk confidentially.” An example of a 0-credit response is “To plan something.” Id. at 39. Dr. Everington reported that Garner had difficulty defining five of the six vocabulary words- consult, attorney, appoint, entitled, and right-and received a score of 7 out of the possible 12 points. Thus, it appears that Garner received half-credit for each of those five words. Garner's performance was the worst on this part of the test. But three of the five words for which he received half credit ( consult, attorney, and entitled) were not present in the version of the Miranda rights that police read to Garner. Police used the simpler term “lawyer” in lieu of the term “attorney,” the simpler phrase “talk to” in lieu of the term “consult,” and the simpler words “have the right to” in lieu of “entitled.” FN4 These differences are significant. Indeed, if Garner had responded “lawyer” (the word actually used in Garner's warning) when asked on the Grisso test to tell what the word “attorney” means, he would have received a full two points for that word. Id. at 40. And if he had responded “Has a right to it” (essentially the words used in Garner's warning) when asked on the Grisso test what the word “entitled” means, he would have received a full two points for that word. Id. at 43. Even the Grisso manual itself recognizes that
FN4. As the district court noted, this difference in language also calls into question the validity of Garner's CMR score. For example, Garner's CMR score depended on his ability to phrase the following warning in his own words: “You are entitled to consult with an attorney before interrogation and to have an attorney present at the time of the interrogation.” Grisso, supra, at 20. The actual warning read to Garner was phrased in simpler terms: “You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and have him with you during questioning.” [w]hen local versions of the warnings are very different from those used in the measures, it is possible that the examinee might receive a score on the instruments that suggests poorer or better understanding than the examinee would have manifested for the version of the warnings that police officers actually provided to the examinee. Id. at 7.FN5 Because the language used in the CMV subtest significantly differed from the language used in the warning that police read to Garner, Garner's poor performance on the CMV subtest can hardly be relied upon as evidence that Garner did not understand or appreciate the Miranda warnings.FN6
FN5. Furthermore, the difference between a half-credit and a full-credit response is not always crisp. With respect to appoint, “[t]o get a person to do the job” is a 2-point answer, while “[t]o offer them money to do the job” is a 1-point answer. Grisso, supra, at 42. In scoring definitions of right, “[y]ou are entitled to it” receives 2 points, while “[i]t's your decision” receives 1 point. Id. at 44. FN6. Of course, the question of how Garner compares to the rest of the population in understanding a particular set of difficultly-phrased Miranda warnings has no bearing on the question of whether he understood the constitutionally adequate warnings actually given to him.
The fourth subtest (FRI) does little more to show that Garner could not understand the Miranda warnings. That subtest “assesses the examinee's grasp of the significance of the Miranda rights in the context of interrogation” by using “four picture stimuli, which are accompanied by brief vignettes.” Id. at 6. “Each picture and vignette are [sic] followed by a set of standardized questions (15 in all) that assess the examinee's grasp of the significance of” the rights to counsel and silence, and the nature of interrogation. Id. Five of the questions relate to the nature of police interrogation, five relate to the function and significance of legal counsel, and five relate to the function and significance of the right to silence. Responses again are scored 2, 1, or 0, so that the total possible score is 30. Garner scored 24 points, including a perfect score (10) on the “nature of interrogation” portion and a perfect score (10) on the “right to counsel” portion. He received 4 out of 10 points on the “right to silence” portion. FN7 The subjective and legally questionable nature of the grading criteria for this subtest, and particularly for the portion that Garner did poorly on, bring into question its usefulness in determining whether an examinee could understand the Miranda warnings. Shown a drawing of a suspect in a room with two police officers, the examinee is asked, “Finish this sentence. If Greg decides to tell the police about what he did, then the things that Greg says_______.” Id. at 48. One example of a full-credit 2-point answer is “Can turn against him later in court.” One example of a half-credit 1-point answer is “Will get him into detention.” One example of a 0-credit answer is “He will tell the policemen.” Id. at 60-61. The minor difference between the 2-point and 1-point answers is notable.FN8
FN7. Garner's total FRI score was below the mean for both adult offenders (26.31) and non-offenders (25.52). Grisso, supra, at 94 tbl.12. His scores on the “nature of interrogation” and “right to counsel” portions were above the mean for adult offenders (9.60 and 9.25) and non-offenders (9.61 and 9.07), id. at 91-92 tbl.9, 10, while his score on the “right to silence” portion was below the mean for each group (7.48 and 6.84, respectively), id. at 93 tbl.11.
FN8. Another question involving the right to counsel in this subtest is even more troubling. The examinee is shown a drawing of a courtroom hearing with judge, police officers, parents, the defendant's lawyer, and the defendant. Grisso, supra, at 45. The question is: “Greg did not tell the police anything about what he did. Here in court, if he were told to talk about what he did that was wrong, will he have to talk about it?” Id. at 49. According to the Scoring Criteria, the 2-point answer is “No,” the 1-point answer is “Yes, if his lawyer says it's best to.” Three possible 0-point answers are: “Yes,” “I don't know,” and, remarkably, “Only if the judge tells him to.” Id. at 66. Given the conceivable situations in which a defendant would be required to talk, such as if he had been granted immunity, and given that in court it is the judge that determines the law, “Only if the judge tells him to” is not a bad answer, yet it would get no points according to the Scoring Criteria.
After relating Garner's scores on the Grisso test, Dr. Everington concluded in her report that Garner's Grisso test results “indicate that even six years later, Garner may not have a complete understanding of [the Miranda ] warning.” In her affidavit, prepared two years after the Grisso test and eight years after the interrogation, Dr. Everington used stronger language, concluding that “Mr. Garner's performance on this test indicates that he does not have full comprehension of Miranda warnings or his right to remain silent.” These conclusions are hardly compelling in light of the apparent problems with drawing this conclusion from Garner's performance on the Grisso test. Other courts have had similar qualms about testimony relying on the test. For instance, the Supreme Court of Connecticut has concluded that a lower court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Grisso test results under its standard for admission of expert scientific evidence. State v. Griffin, 273 Conn. 266, 869 A.2d 640, 650-52 (2005). The court stated “we know of no case in which testimony concerning the Grisso test has been admitted into evidence over objection,” and noted cases from Florida and New York in which testimony regarding the Grisso test or similar protocol was excluded following a preliminary hearing on admissibility. Id. at 650. The Grisso test itself does not purport to “measure the validity of the waiver of Miranda rights, or ‘legal competence’ to waive Miranda rights,” see Grisso, supra, at 8, and, consequently, a poor score on one or more parts of the test does not, ipso facto, lead to a conclusion that the examinee lacks the capacity to knowingly and intelligently waive those rights, see id. (“[T]here is no particular degree of understanding (or score on these instruments) associated with ‘adequate’ understanding from a legal perspective.”); see also Mullin, 379 F.3d at 933 (rejecting claim that Miranda waiver of defendant who suffered from borderline mental retardation was unknowing and unintelligent despite low Grisso test scores).
In addition, the Grisso test purports to provide an index for capacity to understand the warnings only “at the time of the evaluation,” not at the time that the warnings were given. Grisso, supra, at 7; see also id. at 71 (“Current comprehension, even if it is valid for the present time, may or may not be representative of the individual's comprehension at some retrospective time.”). In this case, Dr. Everington administered the test in 1998, over six years after police read the warnings to Garner. Leaving aside the obvious incentive for a defendant who has already been sentenced to death to feign misunderstanding on such a test, there is simply no way of telling whether Garner's Grisso test scores are an accurate indicator of his ability to understand the warnings when police administered the warnings in 1992. This is so regardless of the fact that studies have indicated that Grisso test scores are generally positively correlated with age. See id. at 83 tbl.1. Cf. Mullin, 379 F.3d at 933 (noting that “the ‘Grisso test’ Dr. Hopewell administered took place years after [defendant's] interrogation and the deterioration of his condition in jail could have affected the results”). FN9
FN9. Dr. Everington's administration of the test raises yet another concern with respect to Garner's test scores. While the Grisso test manual “mentions exceptionally high estimates of interrater reliability,” that reliability was achieved by requiring raters to participate in “intensive training (16 to 32 hrs.) with additional practice sessions.” Richard Rogers, Mandy J. Jordan & Kimberly S. Harrison, A Critical Review of Published Competency-to-Confess Measures, 28 Law & Hum. Behav. 707, 712 (2004). A reliability analysis was required for three of the four Grisso subtests (CMR, CMV, FRI) because the scoring of those parts requires the rater to interpret the examinee's response and, based on criteria set out in the scoring manual, to determine whether the response warranted 2, 1, or 0 points. See Grisso, supra, at 10-12, 17-66. Because of the subjective aspect of these parts of the test, an examinee's score could vary from rater to rater, thus requiring intensive training to establish interrater reliability.
In this case, there is no evidence in the record that Dr. Everington received any training to administer the test, much less the intensive training necessary to ensure the reliability of Garner's scores on the three subjectively-scored parts. And, as Rogers, Jordan, and Harrison have observed, “[t]he likelihood of a forensic practitioner achieving this sophisticated level of training is exceedingly remote.” Rogers, Jordan & Harrison, supra, at 712. Tellingly, Garner received a perfect score on the CMR-R subtest, the only “totally objective” part of the Grisso test. Because Dr. Everington's administration of the Grisso test brings into question the reliability of Garner's CMR, CMV, and FRI scores, an argument can easily be made that Garner's CMR-R score most accurately represents Garner's ability to comprehend and appreciate the Miranda warnings. See Grisso, supra, at 11 (noting that the CMR-R “requires no judgment on the part of scorers”). It is thus not surprising that Dr. Everington's initial assessment in 1998 concluded only that Garner “ may not have a complete understanding of [the Miranda ] warning” and that Garner's deficits in intellectual functioning “ could have hindered his understanding of [the] process” (emphasis added). Like the conclusions of Drs. Schmidtgoessling and Smalldon, these conclusions do not provide sufficient evidence that Garner's waiver was not knowing and intelligent.
In sum, Garner's conduct during, and leading up to, the interrogation indicated that he understood and appreciated his Miranda rights before executing the waiver. Because nothing in the record demonstrates otherwise, Garner's Miranda claim does not require habeas relief. We would reach this conclusion regardless of whether we reviewed the issue de novo, under a deferential AEDPA standard, or under a “modified AEDPA” standard. FN10 It is therefore not necessary for us to determine which of these standards applies in this case. See Pierre N. Leval, Judging Under the Constitution: Dicta About Dicta, 81 N.Y.U. L.Rev. 1249, 1267 (2006).
FN10. Garner did not raise in state court the substantive Miranda claim that he now raises in his federal habeas petition, but he did argue in state court on collateral review that his trial counsel were ineffective for failing to inquire into the Miranda waiver issue. Apart from the procedural default issue, it could be argued that modified AEDPA review would apply here in light of the fact that the analysis of Garner's substantive Miranda claim “bears some similarity” to the analysis of the ineffective-assistance claim adjudicated in state court. See, e.g., Filiaggi v. Bagley, 445 F.3d 851, 854 (6th Cir.2006).
None of Garner's remaining claims warrants habeas relief. Because Garner's substantive Miranda claim lacks merit, the Ohio state courts' determination that Garner's counsel were not ineffective for failing to investigate or raise that claim was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, Supreme Court precedent. See Dist. Ct. Op. at 49-50. Garner's claim that the state trial court erred by not providing him with experts to assist with his Miranda claim similarly lacks merit. Garner was provided with access to mental health experts during trial. Moreover, the assistance of other experts would not have been sufficient to show that his waiver was unintelligent. Dist. Ct. Op. at 58-62. Finally, Garner's claim that the process for selecting the petit jury venire unconstitutionally discriminated against African-Americans was procedurally defaulted and, in any event, is without merit for the reasons stated by the district court. Dist. Ct. Op. at 27-34.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court.
MARTHA CRAIG DAUGHTREY, concurring in result only.
What I perceive to be the dispositive issue in this case has somehow disappeared from the discussion at the current stage of the litigation: the procedural default of the Miranda issue that resulted from the petitioner's failure to present the issue in state court. When this case was heard on appeal by the original panel, it resulted in a split decision. The majority chose to “deem this [procedural default] argument forfeited” based on the state's failure to raise it in the district court. Garner v. Mitchell, 502 F.3d 394, 401 (6th Cir.2007). Citing Trest v. Cain, 522 U.S. 87, 89, 118 S.Ct. 478, 139 L.Ed.2d 444 (1997) (“procedural default is normally a defense that the State is obligated to raise and preserv[e] if it is not to lose the right to assert the defense thereafter”), as support for the decision to impose a forfeiture, the majority nevertheless took account of the fact that a procedural default not only may be recognized for the first time on appeal, White v. Mitchell, 431 F.3d 517, 524 (6th Cir.2005), but also may be raised by the reviewing court sua sponte. See Elzy v. United States, 205 F.3d 882, 886 (6th Cir.2000). The panel majority decided not to recognize the defense on two grounds: first, because the district court had “expended considerable resources in deciding Garner's Miranda claim,” Garner, 502 F.3d at 401, and, second, because “Garner faces the death penalty.” Id. But, the latter basis could be justified only if the resources expended in the district court had actually produced an adequate record on which to base a reasoned judgment about the alleged Miranda violation in this case. In fact, the record is insufficient to make a reasoned judgment precisely because there was a procedural default of that issue in this case.
Because the Miranda issue was not raised and litigated in state court, the only record we have with regard to the petitioner's waiver comes from the suppression hearing in state court. See id. at 410 nn. 7-8. The testimony of the interrogating officers was limited to the question of whether the proper Miranda warnings had been given and, to only a superficial extent, whether the petitioner had appeared to understand what was being communicated by the officers before he was asked to sign a waiver of his rights. We know from the record that Garner appeared “perfectly normal” and “very coherent” to the officers who interrogated him. We do know from the record that prior to trial in state court, Garner underwent assessment by a psychiatrist and a clinical neuropsychologist in order to determine his competency to stand trial. Based on their assessment, a mental-health expert appointed by the state trial court to assist with Garner's defense submitted a report questioning whether he would have been capable of understanding the language used in the waiver or the consequences of signing it. See id. at 411. But, because the issue of the petitioner's competency to make a valid waiver was never directly or indirectly addressed in the state courts, the prosecution was prevented from countering the implication that the waiver was flawed-for example, by securing additional testimony from the interrogating officers concerning the events preceding the petitioner's confession, or by securing an additional examination that would have addressed his intellectual functioning near the time of his interrogation, rather than many years afterward.
In addition to the insufficiency of the record resulting from the procedural default in the state courts, the decision to ignore that default is unjustified as a matter of law. Indeed, the legal analysis was cogently laid out by Judge Rogers in his dissent from the majority opinion in Garner, in which he contended that “even if we have the discretion to disregard the procedural default because of the state's failure to argue procedural default in the district court, it is inconsistent with the principles of AEDPA to exercise that discretion in the context of this case.” Id. at 423. In support of this contention, he articulated three legally rock-solid reasons. First, he noted, the procedural default was clear. See id. at 424. Second, the absence of a state court ruling on the issue was due to “lack of opportunity to pass on the merits, [and] not the result of, for instance, a state court's erroneous application of some procedural hurdle or the ineffective assistance of counsel appointed by the state courts.” Id. Because there was no state court review of the issue, he argued, the majority's exercise of discretion in the petitioner's favor flew in the face of both “comity and federalism principles.” Id. (quoting Perruquet v. Briley, 390 F.3d 505, 518 (7th Cir.2004)). Third, and most significantly, Judge Rogers noted the paradox inherent in the application of a de novo standard of review in this case:
[I]f we were to reach the merits of [petitioner's] constitutional claim, we necessarily would have to do so de novo, as there is no state-court decision we can look to for an evaluation of this claim. This would be inconsistent with the high level of deference to state-court decisions that Congress mandated when it passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. It would also amount to a windfall for [petitioner], who would win plenary review of a claim that he never presented to the [state] courts, whereas habeas petitioners who properly present their claims to state courts first are entitled only to the extremely narrow review mandated by [28 U.S.C.] section 2254(d). Id. (quoting Perruquet, 390 F.3d at 518 (citations omitted)).
For these reasons, I conclude that the petitioner's procedural default of the Miranda issue should prevent us from reviewing that question en banc, and I would therefore affirm the district court's judgment, but for reasons other than those expressed by the en banc majority.
COLE, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I concur in the outcome of the majority's opinion but write separately because I disagree with the majority that the “primary focus” in determining whether a waiver was knowing and intelligent is the conduct of the interrogating officers. As stated in Part I of Judge Moore's dissent, a waiver is not valid if the defendant's lack of maturity, intelligence, or mental capacity prevented him from comprehending the warnings issued to him. This is the case even if a reasonable officer would have believed the defendant comprehended the warnings. The majority's reliance on Rice v. Cooper, 148 F.3d 747 (7th Cir.1998) is misplaced. The requirement that a waiver be knowing and intelligent serves a broader purpose than deterrence of police misconduct. See Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482-84, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981).
Because I believe the district court did not err in finding Garner's waiver knowing and intelligent under the facts of this case, I concur in the judgment only and would AFFIRM the decision of the district court.
KAREN NELSON MOORE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly pronounced that a valid waiver of Miranda rights must be “a knowing and intelligent relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege.” Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981). The en banc majority opinion creates an entirely new rule that allows defendants to establish a lack of a knowing and intelligent waiver only if they do so at the moment they hear their Miranda rights. Under the majority's formulation, the primary focus is on the conduct of police officers and whether the officers had reason to know at the time of the interrogation that the defendant lacked the ability to understand the Miranda warning. While it would be impossible to believe that a deaf defendant could give a knowing and intelligent waiver when he is given only a mumbled Miranda warning, the majority's approach would compel such a conclusion. Demanding more of those whose mental or physical faculties can do only less would surely defeat the purpose of requiring that defendants understand the waiver when they undertake it. Because I believe the majority's approach is contrary to Supreme Court precedent and that the totality of the circumstances demonstrates that Garner's waiver of his Miranda rights was not knowing or intelligent, I respectfully dissent.
I. LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING THE VALIDITY OF WAIVERS
The majority contends that the “primary focus” in determining whether a defendant's waiver was knowing and intelligent is “on what the interrogating officers could have concluded about Garner's ability to understand the warnings.” Maj. Op. at 263. Applying this approach, the majority concludes that “[b]ecause police had no reason to believe that Garner misunderstood the warnings, and because it is undisputed that the officers were otherwise reasonable and careful in giving the warnings and obtaining the confession, there is no basis for invalidating Garner's Miranda waiver.” Id. The majority's focus on the conduct and knowledge of police officers is at odds with the Supreme Court's repeated pronouncements that the proper inquiry is whether the defendant had the maturity, intelligence, and competency to make a knowing and intelligent waiver.
The Fifth Amendment states that “[n]o person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” U.S. Const. amend. V. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the Supreme Court determined that the right against self-incrimination “is fully applicable during a period of custodial interrogation.” Id. at 461, 86 S.Ct. 1602. The Miranda Court further determined that “the right to have counsel present at the interrogation is indispensable to the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege.” Id. at 469, 86 S.Ct. 1602. Moreover, the Court held that, prior to custodial interrogation, a suspect must be informed of these rights, now commonly known as the Miranda rights. Id. at 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (“Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.”). Of special import here, the Miranda Court noted that “[t]he defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.” Id. (emphasis added).
Subsequent decisions by the Supreme Court have further clarified that the validity of a waiver depends on it being made not only “voluntarily,” but also “knowingly and intelligently.” In Moran v. Burbine, for example, the Court stated:
The inquiry has two distinct dimensions. First, the relinquishment of the right must have been voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception. Second, the waiver must have been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it. Only if the “totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation” reveal both an uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a court properly conclude that the Miranda rights have been waived. Burbine, 475 U.S. at 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135 (quoting Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707, 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560, 61 L.Ed.2d 197 (1979)) (emphasis added) (citations omitted); see also Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564, 573-75, 107 S.Ct. 851, 93 L.Ed.2d 954 (1987) (analyzing separately whether a suspect's waiver of his Miranda rights was voluntary and whether it was knowing and intelligent); Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981) (“It is reasonably clear under our cases that waivers of counsel must not only be voluntary, but must also constitute a knowing and intelligent relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege....”). Garner does not argue that he waived his Miranda rights involuntarily, but he does argue that he waived his rights unknowingly and unintelligently.
Whether a suspect's waiver of Miranda rights is “a knowing and intelligent relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege” is “a matter which depends in each case ‘upon the particular facts and circumstances surrounding that case, including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused.’ ” Edwards, 451 U.S. at 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880 (quoting Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 464, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938)). A court must examine the “totality of the circumstances” to determine whether a suspect's waiver was knowing and intelligent, including inquiries into the suspect's “age, experience, education, background, and intelligence, and into whether he has the capacity to understand the warnings given him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving those rights.” Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560. “The Constitution does not require that a criminal suspect know and understand every possible consequence of a waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege,” but does require “that a suspect know[ ] that he may choose not to talk to law enforcement officers, to talk only with counsel present, or to discontinue talking at any time.” Spring, 479 U.S. at 574, 107 S.Ct. 851; see also Burbine, 475 U.S. at 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135 (“[T]he waiver must have been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.”).
The majority's approach conflicts with the Supreme Court's repeated pronouncements that the proper inquiry is whether the defendant actually had the capability to make a knowing and intelligent waiver, see, e.g., Edwards, 451 U.S. at 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880; Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560; Zerbst, 304 U.S. at 464, 58 S.Ct. 1019, without any reference to police conduct. To suggest, as the majority does, that the validity of a Miranda waiver depends only on the conduct of the police-or what the police knew or should have known at the time-is to read the requirement that a valid waiver be “a knowing and intelligent relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege,” Edwards, 451 U.S. at 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, out of the Supreme Court's Miranda jurisprudence. Indeed, under the majority's formulation, even a suspect who did not hear his Miranda rights being read somehow could give a knowing and intelligent waiver, so long as the police had no reason to believe that the suspect did not hear.
To support its focus on police conduct, the majority relies heavily upon Rice v. Cooper, 148 F.3d 747 (7th Cir.1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1160, 119 S.Ct. 2052, 144 L.Ed.2d 218 (1999). In Rice, the Seventh Circuit held that, because there was no police abuse, a sixteen-year-old made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights despite the testimony of two psychologists that he had been mentally incompetent to make a valid waiver. Id. at 749-51. The Seventh Circuit read the Supreme Court's decision in Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986), for the proposition that a defendant's waiver of his Miranda rights cannot be unknowing or unintelligent unless there is coercive police activity or the police had some reason to believe that the defendant was incapable of making a rational waiver.
But although the Supreme Court in Connelly held “that coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not ‘voluntary,’ ” it did not suggest that coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to a conclusion that a waiver of Miranda rights was not knowing or intelligent. Id. at 167, 107 S.Ct. 515; see also United States v. Turner, 157 F.3d 552, 555 (8th Cir.1998); United States v. Bradshaw, 935 F.2d 295, 299 (D.C.Cir.1991) (“We read Connelly ... as holding only that police coercion is a necessary prerequisite to a determination that a waiver was involuntary and not as bearing on the separate question whether the waiver was knowing and intelligent.”); Miller v. Dugger, 838 F.2d 1530, 1539 (11th Cir.) (“We do not read the Connelly decision as demonstrating an intent to eliminate this distinction between voluntariness and knowing waivers.”), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1061, 108 S.Ct. 2832, 100 L.Ed.2d 933 (1988). Indeed, the Connelly Court noted that an expert witness “testified that Connelly's illness did not significantly impair his cognitive abilities. Thus, respondent understood the rights he had when [the police] advised him that he need not speak.” Connelly, 479 U.S. at 161-62, 107 S.Ct. 515. Further, the Seventh Circuit in Rice acknowledged that its focus on police conduct diverged from pre- Connelly Supreme Court precedent, or what it called “the conventional approach to waivers of the Miranda rights-that of asking simply whether the defendant had the maturity, competence, etc. to make a knowing waiver of his rights, without reference to what the police knew or should have known.” Rice, 148 F.3d at 751 (citations omitted).
Put simply, the majority completely fails to account for the clear directive of the Supreme Court's Miranda jurisprudence that the proper inquiry is whether the defendant had the maturity, intelligence, and mental capacity to make a knowing and intelligent waiver. I recognize that the Supreme Court's requirement that a Miranda waiver be made knowingly and intelligently may, on occasion, put the police in the difficult position of having to assess a suspect's understanding and intellectual capacities at the time of interrogation. This difficulty is not wholly unique, however, as courts face similar difficulties, for example, when assessing a defendant's competency and understanding during a plea colloquy or when a defendant waives the right to counsel. Suspicions that a suspect's initial Miranda waiver was not made knowingly and intelligently also do not preclude the police from interrogating the suspect later under different circumstances-for example, following evaluation by a mental-health professional, following treatment, or in the presence of a lawyer, see, e.g., In re B.M.B., 264 Kan. 417, 955 P.2d 1302, 1309-13 (1998)-if the police desire greater assurances that the suspect's statement will be deemed admissible at trial.
II. RELEVANT FACTS
Having determined that the proper focus should be on Garner's “age, experience, education, background, and intelligence,” Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560, rather than on the conduct of the police, I now turn to analyzing these factors. Because I believe the majority fails to give adequate consideration to the factual record bearing on these factors, I briefly consider the relevant facts. Garner was nineteen years old at the time of the offense. He was “the product of a very abusive and disorganized family of origin.” 2 Joint Appendix (“J.A.”) at 513 (Schmidtgoessling Report at 3). Garner endured physical abuse at the hands of his mother and more than one of her boyfriends, suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an older brother, was left with his siblings to provide food and clothing for himself, and was repeatedly kicked out of his home. Garner's mother testified that Garner and his twin brother attended the first few years of school together in the same class, but that they were thereafter separated because Garner's brother had been doing Garner's work for him. Thereafter, Garner “didn't do very well” in school. 3 J.A. at 1028 (Mitigation Hr'g 10/13/92 at 52 (Patricia Garner Test.)). Garner told the police that he could read and had completed the twelfth grade, but his mother testified that the last grade that he completed was the seventh grade, and both his mother and school records indicated that Garner's grades were always poor, that he was held back at least once, that he was frequently absent from school, and that he was placed in a variety of correctional or treatment-focused schools. According to his mother, Garner had at least one encounter with the juvenile court system. In 1992, the year of the offense, Garner had a full-scale Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales-Revised IQ score of 76, placing him in the borderline range of intellectual functioning, as well as signs of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, and organic brain impairment.FN1
FN1. Dr. Everington's report, though not admitted by the district court for this purpose, confirmed that Garner had relatively consistent IQ scores between 76 and 81 as well as significant deficits in language abilities. 1 J.A. at 376-77 (Everington Report at 2-3). The circumstances of Garner's interrogation are also relevant. On January 26, 1992, police executed a search warrant at 3250 Burnet Avenue and arrested Garner. Officer Harry C. Frisby, Jr. (“Frisby”), of the Cincinnati Police Department advised Garner of his Miranda rights, and Garner said that he understood his rights.FN2 Officer Frisby asked Garner about several items that Officer Frisby believed had been stolen, but Garner said that the items were his. Garner was then taken to the police station.
FN2. Officer Frisby testified as follows: A: Before I said, Mr. Garner, let me advise you of your rights and I had a booklet that had his rights in it-on the front of it. You have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and have him with you during questioning. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you still have the right to stop answering at any time. You also have the right to talk to a lawyer before any questioning if you wish. And I asked him if he understood those rights and he said yes. Suppression Hr'g at 68 (Frisby Test.). At the police station, Officer Frisby and Officer David Feldhaus (“Feldhaus”) interrogated Garner. Officer Feldhaus advised Garner of his Miranda rights again, read a waiver-of-rights form to Garner, and Garner, Officer Frisby, and Officer Feldhaus signed the form.FN3 The two officers proceeded to interrogate Garner. Officer Feldhaus testified that Garner appeared “perfectly normal” and “very coherent” and that Garner answered when questioned that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 3 J.A. at 944 (Suppression Hr'g at 204 (Feldhaus Test.)). Officer Frisby testified that Garner initially denied any involvement with the crimes and that he, Officer Frisby, repeatedly told Garner that he thought Garner was lying. After approximately forty minutes, the two officer began tape recording the interrogation, and Garner confessed to stealing items from 3250 Burnet Avenue and setting a fire.
FN3. Officer Feldhaus testified as follows: Q: Carry us through and see, you know, exactly what was said as best you can remember. A: Each line? Q: Yeah. A: You have a right to remain silent. He said he understood that. Anything you say can be used against you in court. Q: Did he reply to that? A: Yes. Do you understand that? Yes. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and have him with you during questioning. You understand that? Yes. If you cannot afford a lawyer one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Understand that? Yes. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to a lawyer. You understand that? The reply was yes. I then said below that we have a waiver of rights. And I told him, I'll read this for you. Q: Pardon me. Did you read the whole paragraph? A: I said, I have read this statement on rights. I understand what my rights are. I am going to make a statement and answer questions. I do not want a lawyer at this time. I understand and know what I am doing. No promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or coercion of any kind have been used again [sic] me. I asked him if he understood that. He said he did. I said, you have any questions about your rights? He replied, no. I said, well, if there's no questions and you understand it, I need you to sign your name and the time it is. At that time he signed his name. He said, what time is it? I held my wrist watch out and he looked at it, signed the time. 3 J.A. at 955-57 (Suppression Hr'g at 215-17 (Feldhaus Test.)). I now turn to considering “whether [Garner] ha[d] the capacity to understand the warnings given him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving those rights.” Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560. On collateral review in state court, Dr. Jeffrey Smalldon (“Smalldon”), a mental-health expert appointed by the state trial court to assist with the defense, submitted an affidavit regarding a number of issues. Dr. Smalldon stated that he had personally interviewed, tested, and assessed Garner in addition to reviewing reports from Dr. Nancy Schmidtgoessling (“Schmidtgoessling”), who was appointed by the state trial court to assess Garner's competency to stand trial, and Dr. Joseph D. Schroeder (“Schroeder”), a clinical neuropsychologist who further assessed Garner because of concerns raised by Dr. Schmidtgoessling. Regarding the issue at hand, Dr. Smalldon concluded that “Mr. Garner's borderline intelligence, functional (i.e., organic) brain impairment, abusive and socially deprived background, and long history of impulsivity raise serious questions as to whether he could or did understand the consequences of signing the ‘Waiver of Rights.’ ” 3 J.A. at 921 (Smalldon Aff. at ¶ 10). Dr. Smalldon further concluded that “[t]he same assessment findings alluded to above, as well as my own clinical impressions, also raise serious questions about whether he had the ability to understand and appreciate the implications of the language used in the ‘Waiver of Rights' form that he signed.” 3 J.A. at 921 (Smalldon Aff. at ¶ 11). Dr. Smalldon opined that “[m]ore focused assessment would provide better, and perhaps even conclusive, information on this issue.” 3 J.A. at 922 (Smalldon Aff. at ¶ 13).FN4
FN4. The majority discounts the value of Dr. Smalldon's statements based on this qualifying language. See Maj. Op. at 263, 266. But, as I explain, Dr. Everington answered this call for a more focused assessment by using the Grisso test to evaluate Garner's understanding of his Miranda rights. Dr. Everington provided this more focused assessment regarding Garner's understanding of his waiver of Miranda rights. Dr. Everington administered the Grisso test, specifically designed to “assess[ ] a defendant's comprehension of the Miranda warnings themselves” and “provid[e] a comparison of the defendant's performance to that of other defendants of various ages and levels of intelligence.” Thomas Grisso, Instruments for Assessing Understanding & Appreciation of Miranda Rights 4 (1998). The Grisso test includes four separate testing instruments. The first instrument, Comprehension of Miranda Rights (“CMR”), assesses the examinee's understanding of the Miranda warnings as measured by the examinee's paraphrased description of the warnings. The procedure involves presentation of each of the four Miranda warnings, one by one, to the examinee. After each warning is presented, the examinee is invited to tell the examiner “what that means in your own words.” Id. at 5. Answers are scored two points for “adequate” responses, one point for “questionable” responses, and zero points for “inadequate” responses, producing a total CMR score between zero and eight. Id.
The second instrument, Comprehension of Miranda Rights-Recognition (“CMR-R”), assesses the examinee's understanding of the Miranda warnings as measured by the examinee's ability to identify whether various interpretations provided by the examiner are the same as or different from the warning that was presented. ... As with the CMR, the CMR-R requires that each warning be presented to the examinee. After each warning statement, the examiner asks the examinee to listen to three other statements, some of which are the same as the warning and some of which are not the same. The examinee simply says “same” or “different” after each alternative statement. Id. Answers are scored one point for each correct response, producing a total CMR-R score between zero and twelve. Id.
The third instrument, Comprehension of Miranda Vocabulary (CMV), “assesses the examinee's ability to define six words that appear in the version of the Miranda warnings on which the Miranda instruments are based. The examiner reads each word, uses it in a sentence, and then asks the examinee to define the word.” Id. Answers are scored two points for “adequate” responses, one point for “questionable” responses, and zero points for “inadequate” responses, producing a total CMV score between zero and twelve. Id. at 5-6.
The fourth instrument, Function of Rights in Interrogation (“FRI”), assesses the examinee's grasp of the significance of the Miranda rights in the context of interrogation. For example, some defendants may understand the warning that they have the “right to an attorney,” yet they may fail to appreciate its significance because they do not understand what an attorney does. The FRI, therefore, goes beyond understanding of the Miranda warning themselves to explore examinees' grasp of the significance of the warnings in three areas: • Nature of Interrogation: jeopardy associated with interrogation • Right to Counsel: the function of legal counsel • Right to Silence: protections related to the right to silence, and the role of confessions
The FRI uses four picture stimuli, which are accompanied by brief vignettes (e.g., a story about a suspect who has been arrested, accompanied by a picture of a young man sitting at a table with two police officers). Each picture and vignette are followed by a set of standardized questions (15 in all) that assess the examinee's grasp of the significance of the three matters noted previously. Id. at 6. Answers are scored two points for “adequate” responses, one point for “questionable” responses, and zero points for “inadequate” responses, producing a total FRI score between zero and thirty as well as subscale scores between zero and ten regarding recognition of the nature of interrogation, the significance of the right to counsel, and the significance of the right to silence. Id.
Dr. Everington administered the Grisso test in 1998 when Garner was 26 years old, approximately six years after Garner's interrogation. Garner received a CMR score of six, which “was below that of mentally typical adult subjects as well as below persons in his IQ range.” 1 J.A. at 378 (Everington Report at 9). Garner's score was slightly below the mean score of thirteen-year-old juvenile delinquents of average intelligence but slightly above the mean score of twelve-year-old juvenile delinquents of average intelligence.FN5 See GRISSO, supra, at 87 tbl.5. On the CMR-R, Garner received a perfect score of twelve, “indicating that he did not have difficulty in recognizing the meaning of the warning when presented in a true-false format.” 1 J.A. at 378 (Everington Report at 9). On the CMV, Garner had difficulty defining five of the six vocabulary words: consult, attorney, appoint, entitled, and right. Garner received a score of seven, which was “below mentally typical peers and persons in his IQ range,” id., and below the mean score of twelve-year-old juvenile delinquents of average intelligence, see GRISSO, supra, at 88 tbl.6. Finally, Garner received a FRI score of twenty-four, “below that of adult offenders and non offenders.” 1 J.A. at 378 (Everington Report at 9). Dr. Everington further noted that “all the items that [Garner] missed [on the FRI] were in one are[a]-the function of the right to silence-indicating that he still does [not] have a full understanding of this right, even after six years.” Id. Garner's right-to-silence FRI subscale score of four was below the mean scores of adult offenders (7.48), adult nonoffenders (6.84), and juvenile delinquents (5.52). See GRISSO, supra, at 93 tbl.11. Dr. Everington concluded that the test results “indicate[d] that [Garner] does not have full comprehension of Miranda warnings or his right to remain silent.” 1 J.A. at 373 (Everington Aff. at ¶ 17).
FN5. Grisso notes that CMR, CMR-R, and CMV scores “may be compared to norms for delinquent youths and adult offenders of various ages and levels of intelligence,” as provided in a series of tables reporting results from earlier studies. GRISSO, supra, at 5-6; see also id. at 68. FRI and FRI subscale results form earlier studies are not delineated by age and IQ score, but still provide “norms for delinquent youths and adult offenders of various ages.” Id. at 6. III. ANALYSIS Given Garner's low IQ scores and other mental disabilities, I now turn to considering carefully whether Garner knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights. As the majority notes, along with other courts, we have rejected calls to establish a categorical rule that a low IQ or other significant limitations in intellectual functioning are dispositive and make a suspect with such characteristics categorically unable to give a valid waiver of Miranda rights. Maj. Op. at 264-65. However, we also have not established a categorical rule that an express waiver from a person with a low IQ or other significant limitations similar to Garner's is always knowing and intelligent. Moreover, other courts have concluded that suspects with similar limitations in intellectual functioning did not knowingly and intelligently waive their Miranda rights in particular circumstances. See, e.g., United States v. Garibay, 143 F.3d 534, 538-39 (9th Cir.1998) (concluding that a suspect with an IQ score that placed him in the borderline range of intellectual functioning did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights); Cooper v. Griffin, 455 F.2d 1142, 1144-46 (5th Cir.1972) (concluding that two teenage suspects with IQs between 61 and 67 did not knowingly and intelligently waive their Miranda rights); United States v. Aikens, 13 F.Supp.2d 28, 34 (D.D.C.1998) (concluding that a suspect with an IQ of 71 did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights); State v. Caldwell, 611 So.2d 1149, 1152 (Ala.Crim.App.1992) (affirming the trial court's ruling that a suspect with an IQ of 71 did not knowingly and intelligently waive her Miranda rights), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 904, 114 S.Ct. 284, 126 L.Ed.2d 234 (1993); People v. Bernasco, 138 Ill.2d 349, 150 Ill.Dec. 155, 562 N.E.2d 958, 963-66 (1990) (affirming the trial court's ruling that a 17-year-old suspect with an IQ of 80 did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 932, 111 S.Ct. 2052, 114 L.Ed.2d 458 (1991), abrogated on other grounds by People v. G.O. ( In re G.O.), 191 Ill.2d 37, 245 Ill.Dec. 269, 727 N.E.2d 1003, 1010 (Ill.2000).
Precedent also provides more specific guidance for our inquiry in this case. Those cases in which a court decided that a suspect with mental disabilities knowingly and intelligently waived his or her Miranda rights generally exhibit one or both of two important characteristics not found in this case. In a number of cases, the suspect produced expert evidence of mental disabilities, but did not produce any expert evidence that those disabilities made him or her incapable of knowingly and intelligently waiving Miranda rights or that he or she did not give a valid waiver in that particular instance. See, e.g., Finley v. Rogers, 116 F. App'x 630, 636-38 (6th Cir.2004) (unpublished opinion); United States v. Turner, 157 F.3d 552, 555 (8th Cir.1998); United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 40 (2d Cir.1997); Correll v. Thompson, 63 F.3d 1279, 1288 (4th Cir.1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1035, 116 S.Ct. 688, 133 L.Ed.2d 593 (1996); Dunkins v. Thigpen, 854 F.2d 394, 398-400 (11th Cir.1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1059, 109 S.Ct. 1329, 103 L.Ed.2d 597 (1989).FN6 In those cases in which the suspect did produce specific expert evidence, typically at least one expert, usually the state's but sometimes even the suspect's, countered the assertion that the suspect did not knowingly and intelligently waive his or her Miranda rights. See, e.g., Clark v. Mitchell, 425 F.3d 270, 275 (6th Cir.2005); Taylor v. Rogers, No. 95-3904, 1996 WL 515349, at *3 (6th Cir. Sept.10, 1996) (unpublished opinion); Young v. Walls, 311 F.3d 846, 849 (7th Cir.2002); People v. Jenkins, 122 Cal.App.4th 1160, 19 Cal.Rptr.3d 386, 395 (2004). But see Smith v. Mullin, 379 F.3d 919, 932-34 (10th Cir.2004).
FN6. For instance, in Turner, which the majority cites, Maj. Op. at 261-62, 264-65, the Eighth Circuit held that the defendant gave a valid waiver despite evidence of the defendant's low IQ and mental illness. 157 F.3d at 555. But the defendant in Turner did not produce expert evidence that these disabilities made him incapable of knowingly and intelligently making a waiver of Miranda rights. In the case at hand, in contrast, Dr. Everington offered her unrebutted expert opinion that Garner “does not have full comprehension of Miranda warnings or his right to remain silent.” 1 J.A. at 373 (Everington Aff. at ¶ 17). Although the state did not counter that evidence with expert evidence to the contrary, the majority concludes that because of the limitations of the Grisso test, Dr. Everington's affidavit and report “do not provide sufficient evidence that Garner's waiver was not knowing and intelligent.” Maj. Op. at 270. First, the majority notes that the Grisso test measured Garner's understanding of the Miranda warnings at the time of the test, in 1998, and not at the time of his interrogation, in 1992. Maj. Op. at 269-70. However, the Grisso test manual does not indicate that it is reasonable to assume that Garner understood the Miranda warnings better at the time of his interrogation than he did at the time of the test. The manual lists a number of factors that Dr. Everington was to take into account in making a retrospective determination, see GRISSO, supra, at 71-72, and Dr. Everington concluded that “[i]n [her] professional opinion, it is reasonable to assume that he would not have comprehended the warnings any better under the highly stressful conditions present during the interrogation prior to trial.” 1 J.A. at 373 (Everington Aff. at ¶ 17). Moreover, study results indicate that scores on the Grisso test are positively correlated with age-that is, one would generally expect Garner's Grisso test scores to be higher in 1998 than in 1992. See GRISSO, supra, at 83 tbl. 1, 87 tbl. 5, 88 tbl. 6.
Second, the majority makes much of the fact that the CMV subtest of the Grisso test administered to Garner contained different language than the Miranda warnings given to Garner. Maj. Op. at 268. Specifically, in addition to a number of slight differences in language, the Grisso test warnings used, for example, the word “attorney” instead of “lawyer” and “interrogation” instead of “questioning.” Grisso, supra, at 20. However, many of Dr. Everington's conclusions are unaffected by these differences. First, despite differences in language, “[n]evertheless, the comparison of the examinee's performance to the norms offered in the manual will provide an indication of the examinee's capacities for understanding relative to other examinees in the research study for which the instruments were developed. Thus comparative interpretations regarding the examinee's performance relative to people of various ages and levels of intelligence can still be made.” GRISSO, supra, at 7. Garner consistently scored below persons in his age and IQ ranges, indicating that his competence for waiving his Miranda rights as suggested by his general cognitive abilities did not accurately reflect whether he actually knowingly and intelligently did so. Second, although three of the words that Garner could not define as part of the CMV-consult, attorney, and entitled-were not used in the warnings actually given him, Garner could not give a satisfactory definition of two key words common to both the test and the warnings: appoint and right. Third, the Grisso test warnings regarding the right to remain silent were identical in all relevant respects to those given by Officers Frisby and Feldhaus, and Garner's Grisso test results indicated that Garner had significant difficulties understanding the right to remain silent.FN7
FN7. The majority also notes two other limitations of Grisso test, although these limitations need not concern us long. First, an individual may feign misunderstanding or otherwise attempt to give inaccurate responses. Maj. Op. at 270. However, the Grisso test includes internal mechanisms by which to determine whether a subject is feigning misunderstanding, see Grisso, supra, at 70-71, and, as the district court determined, there is no indication that Garner's Grisso test results are in any way inauthentic. Second, the Grisso test does not measure the ultimate validity of a Miranda waiver. Maj. Op. at 269-70. That, of course, is a question for the court. The majority also contends that Garner's results on the CMR and FRI subtests provide little support for Dr. Everington's conclusion that Garner did not adequately comprehend the Miranda warnings. Maj. Op. at 266-69. First, the majority dismisses the results of the CMR subtest because Garner gave unsatisfactory responses to only two of the four questions. Dr. Everington, by contrast, credited the CMR results, noting that Garner's score put him “below that of mentally typical adult subjects as well as below persons in his IQ range.” 1 J.A. at 378 (Everington Report at 9). The majority's rejection of Dr. Everington's reliance on the CMR results amounts to second-guessing the opinion of an expert in forensic psychology who personally administered the tests to Garner. With respect to the FRI subtest, the majority takes issue with the subtest's methodology, calling it “subjective and legally questionable.” Maj. Op. at 268-69. Citing no authority for this critique, the majority substitutes its own cursory analysis for expert opinion holding that the FRI subtest can be probative of a defendant's comprehension of the Miranda warnings. As the creator of the Grisso test has explained, the FRI subtest was developed in consultation with a panel of attorneys and psychologists. See GRISSO, supra, at 12, 45. Moreover, the Grisso test as a whole was subjected to extensive peer review during its development and has been widely accepted in the field of forensic psychology. See id. at 74-76. FN8
FN8. The majority also argues that Dr. Everington may have lacked the experience necessary to reliably administer the Grisso test to Garner in 1998. Maj. Op. at 270 n. 9. In fact, Dr. Everington has coauthored two scholarly articles-one of which was published in 1995-that involved administering the Grisso test to dozens of criminal defendants. See Caroline Everington & Solomon M. Fulero, Competence to Confess: Measuring Understanding and Suggestibility of Defendants with Mental Retardation, 37 Mental Retardation 212 (1999); Solomon M. Fulero & Caroline Everington, Assessing Competency to Waive Miranda Rights in Defendants with Mental Retardation, 19 Law & Hum. Behav.. 533 (1995).
Additionally, the majority gives great weight to evidence tending to show that Garner did knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights. However, this evidence is subject to significant limitations not recognized by the majority. First, the majority credits statements from Dr. Schmidtgoessling that Garner “appeared to be of near average intelligence” and “appeared to be able to understand all questions and material presented to him suggesting that his receptive language is intact.” Maj. Op. at 263-64 (quoting Schmidtgoessling Report at 2). However, Dr. Schmidtgoessling's report must be read in context. The relevant portion of the report states: “[Garner] appeared to be of near average intelligence by observation. His memory appeared to be intact. He appeared to be able to understand all questions and material presented to him suggesting that his receptive language is intact.” Schmidtgoessling Report at 2 (emphasis added). In this portion of her report, Dr. Schmidtgoessling was describing only her initial observations, observations later determined to be inaccurate by results from her own tests as well as by tests administered by Dr. Smalldon, Dr. Schroeder, and Dr. Everington, and the majority errs in relying on Dr. Schmidtgoessling's observations as substantive conclusions. The expert evidence that Garner's appearance did not accurately reflect his level of intelligence and understanding also undermines any substantial reliance on the police officers' testimony that Garner appeared to understand the warnings. Cf. Morgan Cloud et al., Words Without Meaning: The Constitution, Confessions, and Mentally Retarded Suspects, 69 U. Chi. L.Rev.. 495, 511-14 (2002) (discussing the difficulty in estimating the level of understanding of those with mental disabilities).
Similarly, the majority gives great weight to the fact that the police had no reason to believe that Garner could not understand his Miranda rights and that Garner told the police officers that he understood his Miranda rights. Maj. Op. at 265-66. As I have explained, the majority's focus on whether the police had reason to believe Garner could not make a knowing and intelligent waiver is at odds with Supreme Court precedent. By focusing on whether Garner exhibited “any outwardly observable indications that he did not understand the warnings,” Maj. Op. at 265-66, the majority's misguided analysis sidesteps the essential question of whether Garner actually had the intelligence, maturity, etc. to make an intelligent and knowing waiver. With respect to Garner's statements that he understood his rights and the waiver, Dr. Everington concluded in her report that Garner's “cognitive and linguistic limitations make the likelihood of misunderstanding and suggestibility to input from others greater than with mentally typical individuals.” 1 J.A. at 379 (Everington Report at 10); see also Cloud et al., 69 U. Chi. L.Rev.. at 511-12 & n. 76 (describing how people with mental disabilities are “unusually susceptible to the perceived wishes of authority figures”). Thus, although Garner's statements of understanding are evidence that he knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights, see, e.g., Turner, 157 F.3d at 555, the probative value of this evidence is limited by Dr. Everington's expert evidence. Furthermore, although Garner was advised of his Miranda rights twice, repetition of the warnings was unlikely to be of any value if he did not understand them the first time, and warnings given after a suspect has already spoken once with police are often ineffective regardless of the suspect's cognitive abilities. See Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600, 611-14, 124 S.Ct. 2601, 159 L.Ed.2d 643 (2004) (plurality opinion).
In sum, the evidence shows that Garner was nineteen years old at the time of his interrogation and had a very poor education, an IQ of 76, and other significant limitations in intellectual functioning, including limitations directly related to the understanding and comprehension of his Miranda rights. Specifically, Dr. Everington's unrebutted expert evidence indicated that Garner could not satisfactorily define the word “right” and did not understand the right to remain silent. Similar evidence has led other courts to conclude that suspects did not knowingly and intelligently waive their Miranda rights. See Aikens, 13 F.Supp.2d at 32, 34 (suppressing a statement from a suspect with an IQ of 71 because he did not understand the right to remain silent or that he was entitled to have a lawyer present during questioning, despite the fact that police officers went over each warning with him one by one); Bernasco, 562 N.E.2d at 962-63 (affirming a trial court's ruling suppressing a statement from a suspect with an IQ of 80 because he did not understand the word “right” and other words contained in the Miranda warnings, although he did understand the right to remain silent). But see Mullin, 379 F.3d at 932-34 (concluding on habeas review under AEDPA that a suspect with “mild to borderline mental retardation” gave a knowing and intelligent waiver despite contrary results from a Grisso test administered years after the interrogation). Similarly here, Garner's young age, indeterminate prior experience with the legal system, poor education, significant limitations in intellectual functioning, and the unrebutted expert evidence all tend to show that Garner's Miranda waiver was not made knowingly and intelligently. Cf. Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560 (listing factors to be considered). The only significant evidence to the contrary is the fact that Garner told police at the time of his interrogation that he understood his rights and the waiver, but he has introduced unrebutted expert evidence indicating that this evidence should not be given great weight. Accordingly, I believe that the preponderance of the evidence shows that Garner did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights. FN9 Thus, admission of his statement at trial was unconstitutional.
FN9. To be clear, I do not argue that a person with Garner's mental disabilities is categorically unable to knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights, only that the preponderance of the evidence shows that Garner did not do so in this case. Cf. United States v. Macklin, 900 F.2d 948, 952 (6th Cir.) (describing the potential disempowering effect of ruling that people with mental disabilities do not have the capacity to waive legal rights), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 840, 111 S.Ct. 116, 112 L.Ed.2d 86 (1990). Garner may very well have been able to do so under different circumstances-for example, if his rights had been explained to him in very simple terms, see Young, 311 F.3d at 849, or if he had the assistance of a lawyer, social worker, or family member, cf. G.O., 727 N.E.2d at 1021-22 & n. 11 (McMorrow, J., dissenting) (stating that no confession given by a suspect under the age of 15 should be admitted into evidence unless the suspect is permitted to consult with a lawyer, family member, or other adult personally interested in the child's well-being and listing states that have adopted such a rule); B.M.B., 955 P.2d at 1309-13 (adopting a similar rule and discussing decisions from other states that have also done so).
For the reasons described above, I believe that the proper inquiry in determining whether a defendant made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights is the defendant's actual maturity, education, intelligence, and mental competency. I believe the majority's focus on police conduct, and whether the police had reason to know that a defendant lacked the capacity to make a knowing and intelligent waiver, departs from well-established Supreme Court precedent. Furthermore, I believe that Garner did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights before his interrogation. Accordingly, I would reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions that the district court issue the writ of habeas corpus. I respectfully dissent.