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Carter v. Butts

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 25, 2014

CHE B. CARTER, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
KEITH BUTTS, Respondent-Appellee

Argued May 21, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 1:11-cv-00886-SEB-DML -- Sarah Evans Barker, Judge.

For CHE B. CARTER, Petitioner - Appellant: Michael Ausbrook, Attorney, Bloomington, IN.

For KEITH BUTTS, Respondent - Appellee: James Blaine Martin, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.

Before BAUER, ROVNER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 632

Bauer, Circuit Judge.

Che B. Carter (" Carter" ) appeals the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He contends that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to challenge the attempted murder jury instruction given at his trial and that this unduly prejudiced him. Carter argues that the Indiana Supreme Court unreasonably applied Supreme Court precedent when it determined that he suffered insufficient prejudice to warrant relief. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the district court's decision to deny Carter's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 20, 1990, Carter went to the home of Donna M. Stegemiller (" Stegemiller" ) because she had filed a small claims case against his mother. Carter asked to discuss the case with Stegemiller on her porch, then forced his way into Stegemiller's home and started to strangle her. Carter held Stegemiller down and struck her in the head with a tire iron. Carter then shouted for his accomplice, Wayne Mitchell (" Mitchell" ), to come into the house. Carter held Stegemiller down and removed rings from her fingers while Mitchell raped her. Before she lost consciousness, Stegemiller saw Carter and Mitchell taking a stereo speaker from her home and heard one of the men tell the other, " [M]ake sure she's dead before we leave because she can identify us." Carter and Mitchell removed the telephones from Stegemiller's house so that she would be unable to call for help. When they left, they locked and barricaded the doors so that Stegemiller could not leave her home or seek medical attention. Stegemiller survived, but sustained serious injuries.

A. Carter's Trial

At trial, the government introduced evidence of Carter's intent to kill Stegemiller. The first person who spoke to Stegemiller after she was attacked testified that Stegemiller told him she heard one of her attackers say, " [M]ake sure the bitch is dead before we leave." The first police officer at the scene also testified that Stegemiller told him she heard, " [D]on't leave until she is dead." Stegemiller was not sure, however, whether Carter or Mitchell made this statement.

Page 633

Without objection from the defense, the court gave the following attempted ...


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