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Roy RAMSEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: November 21, 1988
Date of arrest: 5 days after
Date of birth: June 6, 1953
Victims profile: Garnett and Betty Ledford
Method of murder: Shooting (.22 caliber pistol)
Location: Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Missouri on April 14, 1999
 
 
 
 
 
 

clemency petition

 
 
 
 
 
 

State of Missouri v. Roy Ramsey

864 S.W. 2d 320 (Mo. banc 1993)

Roy Ramsey was executed on April 14, 1999

Case Facts: 

On November 21, 1988 Roy Ramsey accompanied by his brother Billy Ramsey and Billy's girlfriend Angela Ray drove to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Garnett and Betty Ledford in Grandview, Missouri.

The Ramseys knocked on the door and Mr. Ledford answered. Billy Ramsey reminded Mr. Ledford that they had previously been acquainted through the Ledfords' son-in-law who had served time in jail with Billy Ramsey. Mr. Ledford talked to the Ramseys for awhile whereupon Roy Ramsey pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and ordered everyone inside.

Inside the Ledford home they confronted Mrs. Ledford. Roy Ramsey pointed the gun at her and demanded that she give them money, jewelry and other valuables. Mr. and Mrs. Ledford were ordered into their bedroom where Mrs. Ledford opened a safe.

While Roy stayed with the Ledfords Billy went through the house and took guns and a video cassette recorder and placed them beside the front door.

Roy Ramsey placed the items from the safe into a pillowcase. Billy returned to the living room with the pillowcase and was preparing to leave when he heard a series of gunshots. Roy Ramsey later told his brother that he had to kill the Ledfords because they could identify Billy and would be able to pick him out of a lineup.

The three, hen drove back to the Ramsey family home. During the ride back home Billy Ramsey took money from Mr. Ledford's wallet and then threw the wallet out of the car.

The wallet was later found that afternoon by two schoolgirls with Mr. Ledford's identification in it. Laboratory analysis later discovered Billy Ramsey's fingerprints on the wallet.

At the Ramseys' home the Lefords' possessions were divided among Roy, Billy and their mother Effie Ramsey. The items taken were cash, jewelry, guns and silver coins amounting to about $7,500. Learning that his brother received a larger share of the loot Billy Ramsey took the murder weapon and pawned it.

A few days later when Angela Ray learned that the Ledfords had been killed during the robbery she became angry whereupon Roy Ramsey threatened to kill her if she told any one of the incident. Angela Ray then fled to Memphis, Tennessee. After connecting the Ramseys to the Ledford murder through the wallet, the police found Angela Ray and interviewed her.

On November 26, 1988 Ray Ramsey was taken into custody and one of the silver coins stolen from the Ledfords was found in his possession. Ballistics examinations determined that the bullets retrieved from the Ledfords matched shell casings found at the scene of the murder and had been fired from Ramsey's .22 caliber pistol.

Legal Chronology

1971
03/25 - Ramsey was sentenced to ten years in Jackson County, Missouri on the charge of Robbery First Degree and remanded to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

1977
02/16 -- Ramsey was sentenced to five years in Jackson County, Missouri on the charge of Robbery First Degree and remanded to the Missouri Department of Corrections. March 11, 1977 Ramsey was sentenced to 15 years in Jackson County, Missouri on the charge of Sodomy and remanded to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

1988
11/21 - Roy Ramsey murders Garnett and Betty Ledford in their home in Jackson County, Missouri.

1990
12/3 - Ramsey is found guilty of two counts of murder first degree and the jury recommends death on each charge.

1991
3/14 - Ramsey if formally sentenced to death by the Court.
7/16 - Ramsey files a post-conviction relief motion in the Jackson County Circuit Court.

1992
7/7 - The Jackson County Circuit Court denies Ramsey's post-conviction relief motion.

1993
10/26 - The Missouri Supreme court affirms the Circuit Court's denial of Ramsey's post-conviction relief motion along with Ramsey's conviction and sentence.

1994
5/2 - The United States   Supreme Court denies Ramsey's petition for writ of certiorari.
5/24 - Ramsey files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

1997
9/5 - The District Court denies Ramsey's petition for writ of habeas corpus.

1998
6/10 - The United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirms the District Court's denial.

1999
2/22 - The United States Supreme Court denies Ramsey's petition for writ of certiorari.
3/8 - The Missouri State Supreme Court sets Ramsey's execution date for April 14, 1999.

  


 

Roy Ramsey Jr., 45, 99-04-14, Missouri

In Potosi, Roy Ramsey Jr. was executed early Wednesday for killing a western Missouri couple during a robbery at their home.

Ramsey was pronounced dead at 12:04 a.m., just 3 minutes after the state administered the 1st of 3 lethal drugs at Potosi Correction Center in southeast Missouri.

As the procedure began, Ramsey raised his head and looked toward the room where his friends and clergy were watching and mouthed a few words. He then laid his head down. He coughed and his chest heaved as the 1st drug was injected. Ramsey then closed his eyes for good.

Ramsey's last words were: "Tell everybody I love them. Tell the governor that I understand, and that I am not mad at him. In the future, it ain't going to hurt him to spare some of the people."

Ramsey, 45, was condemned to die for the Nov. 20, 1988, killing of Garnett and Betty Ledford at their home in Grandview, near Kansas City.

His fate was sealed at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday when Gov. Mel Carnahan refused a clemency request from Ramsey's attorney, J.R. Hobbs of Kansas City.

Hobbs also failed to get a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court, after an appeals court and the state Supreme Court denied requests for a stay.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said he had no doubt about Ramsey's guilt or whether he deserved to be executed.

"He's a brutal double murderer who has attempted to slow down and manipulate the system for years," said Nixon. "The killing of senior citizens in their own homes - execution style in their own bedrooms - is an example of the cruel and cold-blooded murders for which the death penalty should clearly be an option."

Ramsey spent most of Tuesday meeting with a brother, a cousin and 2 spiritual advisors, the Rev. Paul Jones of Kansas City and the Rev. Larry Rice of St. Louis.

Ramsey's death sentence was not a surprise to the people who know his Kansas City family. 9 of Ramsey's 10 brothers have prison records for crimes ranging from robbery to murder. 6 currently are in prison, Ramsey said Tuesday in a phone interview from his holding cell.

3 of Ramsey's brothers are in prison for murder, said Pat Peters, the Jackson County prosecuting attorney who handled the Ledford case.

Ramsey, the only family member sentenced to death, blamed himself for his family's problems. As the 2nd oldest, he taught his brothers to steal, a skill he learned during high school.

Nixon agreed. "He was raised in a poisonous environment and carried that poison on into society," said the attorney general.

Ramsey also was quick to pin the blame on police that "harassed us quite a bit," he said. "We are flies in a spiderwall. The more we try to get out, the deeper we get in."

Peters said this case was not about police harassment, but about the death of 2 innocent people.

Ramsey denied any involvement in the murders, blaming the shootings on his younger brother, Billy, and Billy's former girlfriend, Angela Ray.

Ramsey said he was selling drugs the day of the murders.

But according to court records, Ray drove Ramsey and his younger brother, Billy, to the Ledford home. When they arrived, Ray waited in the car, while the two brothers walked to the front door. Roy flashed a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic at Ledford, who then let them into his home.

Once inside, the Ledfords were forced to open their safe. Billy Ramsey testified that he ransacked the house while Roy Ramsey took Ledford, 65, and his wife, 63, into a back bedroom, where he fatally shot them at close range.

The couple's son-in-law found the bodies the next day.

Ramsey said he forgave Billy for testifying against him.

"What he did was wrong," Ramsey said. "I'd die for all my brothers. I love him, even now. It was bad what he did. I don't support what he did, testifying against me, lying and killing those 2 old people, he was wrong. But when it's said and done, I love my brother."

For his testimony, Billy Ramsey's 1st-degree murder charges were dropped and he pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder. He is serving a 25-year sentence out of state.

Ramsey becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri, and the 36th overall since the state resumed executions on Jan. 6, 1989.

Missouri ranks 4th in the numbers of condemned prison put to death since 1976, trailing only Texas (173), Virginia (64) and Florida (43).

(sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Rick Halperin)

  


 

United States Court of Appeals for the eighth circuit

No. 97-1576WM

Roy Ramsey, Appellant,
v.
Michael Bowersox, Superintendent, Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Submitted: April 16, 1998
Filed: June 10, 1998

Before FAGG, JOHN R. GIBSON, and HANSEN, Circuit Judges.

FAGG, Circuit Judge.

Roy Ramsey, a Missouri death row inmate, appeals the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See 28 U.S.C. 2254. We affirm.

On November 21, 1988, Ramsey and his brother, Billy, went to the home of an elderly couple, Garnett and Betty Ledford, to rob them. Billy's girlfriend drove the brothers there in her car. Ramsey had a gun, but Billy did not. Garnett answered the door, and Ramsey used the gun to force his way inside.

The brothers took the Ledfords upstairs to a bedroom. After Betty opened the Ledfords' safe, the brothers tied her in a chair. Billy went downstairs with some of the loot, including money, guns, a videocassette recorder, and foreign coins, and Ramsey killed the Ledfords by shooting each of them at close range in the head.

Several days later, the brothers were caught. Billy entered a plea agreement and testified against Ramsey in exchange for a twenty-five-year sentence. A Missouri jury convicted Ramsey of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Ramsey's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See State v. Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d 320 (Mo. 1993), cert. denied , 511 U.S. 1078 (1994).

Ramsey filed this federal habeas petition in December 1995. A year later, the district court denied Ramsey's petition. Seeking permission to appeal twenty-five issues, Ramsey asked us "for a certificate of appealability pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2253(c) and Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22(b)." We remanded Ramsey's request to the district court for compliance with the statute and rule cited by Ramsey.

The district court granted a certificate of appealability on eleven issues and denied a certificate on fourteen others. Ramsey then sought an expanded certificate of appealability or certificate of probable cause from us. We denied Ramsey's request and thus limited the issues to only those that satisfied the standard for granting either certificate--the same eleven identified by the district court. We turn initially to the eleven issues certified for appeal.

Ramsey first asserts he was denied effective assistance of counsel and due process because his trial attorney had a conflict of interest. During the hearing on Ramsey's motion for a new trial, the prosecutor brought the court's attention to a newspaper article that spoke of letters written to Ramsey from Billy, whose judgment in accordance with his plea agreement could still be set aside. In the letters, Billy apologized for giving false testimony at Ramsey's trial.

The trial court asked Ramsey's attorney to produce the letters, and the attorney refused, citing a conflict of interest. Ramsey asserts a conflict existed at the posttrial hearing with respect to the letters' production because his attorney was at risk of being found to have provided ineffective assistance during the trial in failing to use the letters. Ramsey's counsel, a Missouri public defender from the district 48 office (Trial Trans. at 1852) sought to withdraw, but the court denied the motion.

Although the court doubted a conflict existed, the court obtained a different Missouri public defender from the district 16 office (Trial Trans. at 1852) to advise Ramsey on the limited issue of whether to produce the letters at the hearing on the motion for a new trial. Ramsey decided not to produce the letters. Ramsey contends his trial attorney's posttrial conflict carries over to all the Missouri public defender's offices, and thus the court should have appointed an attorney in private practice to advise him.

To prevail on his claim, Ramsey must show both an actual conflict of interest and an adverse effect on his attorney's performance. See Nave v. Delo , 62 F.3d 1024, 1034 (8th Cir. 1995), cert. denied , 517 U.S. 1214 (1996). Even if Ramsey's trial attorney had a conflict posttrial about production of the letters, it cannot be imputed to the attorney from a different Missouri public defender's office solely by reason of the statutorily created relationship between the offices. See id. at 1034-35.

Besides, Ramsey has not shown any adverse effect from the presumed advice not to produce the letters at the new trial hearing. Ramsey's ineffective assistance claim also fails because, as the Missouri Supreme Court found, his trial attorney's failure to introduce the letters as evidence at trial was not deficient performance, but sound trial strategy. See Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 339. Indeed, at the new trial hearing, Billy testified his trial testimony was truthful and the letters were fabricated.

Second, Ramsey attacks the Missouri Supreme Court's proportionality review of his death sentence on direct appeal under Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.035. Contrary to Ramsey's assertions, Missouri's proportionality review does not violate the Eighth Amendment, due process, or equal protection of the laws. See Sweet v. Delo , 125 F.3d 1144, 1159 (8th Cir. 1997), cert. denied , 118 S. Ct. 1197 (1998).

The Missouri Supreme Court concluded Ramsey's "sentence is not disproportionate," Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 327, and we see no basis for looking behind that conclusion, see Sweet , 125 F.3d at 1159. Third, Ramsey contends his death sentence is based on an invalid aggravating circumstance: that the homicide was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture or depravity of mind."

According to Ramsey, this aggravating circumstance is vague or overbroad because it does not define "torture or depravity of mind." "A finding of torture is sufficient to properly narrow the class of persons eligible for the death penalty." LaRette v. Delo , 44 F.3d 681, 686 (8th Cir. 1995). As for depravity of mind, the Missouri Supreme Court has judicially defined and limited the term. See Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 328.

In Ramsey's case, the court gave the term a limiting construction by instructing the jury it could find depravity if it found Ramsey bound Betty or planned to kill more than one person, and had a callous disregard for human life. The limiting construction gave adequate guidance to the sentencer. See Battle v. Delo , 19 F.3d 1547, 1562 (8th Cir. 1994). Even if the instruction were unconstitutionally vague, the jury's penalty phase verdict was reliable because the jury found several other unchallenged aggravating circumstances that support Ramsey's death sentence. See Sloan v. Delo , 54 F.3d 1371, 1385-86 (8th Cir. 1995) (in nonweighing state like Missouri, jury's finding of invalid aggravating factor does not invalidate death verdict when jury finds at least one valid aggravating factor).

Fourth, Ramsey contends his right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him was violated when the trial court admitted parts of a videotaped statement by Billy about Ramsey's role in the murders. Police made the tape when they brought Billy, a suspect in the murders, into the police station for questioning early in the investigation, before Billy made a plea bargain. Billy initially denied any knowledge of the robbery, then said someone other than Ramsey was his accomplice.

After police confronted Billy with the statements of his mother, aunt, and girlfriend saying Ramsey and Billy committed the robbery and Ramsey had a gun, Billy gave the videotaped statement implicating his brother. At the prosecutor's behest, the trial court admitted parts of the tape in rebuttal after defense counsel suggested on cross-examination that Billy fabricated his trial testimony to save his own neck.

Defense counsel had brought out that Billy's testimony was the product of a plea bargain and there were inconsistencies between Billy's trial testimony and earlier statements made in his deposition and at the time of his arrest. Although the court admitted parts of the tape, the court instructed the jury it should not consider the tape as substantive evidence.

We see no violation of Ramsey's right to confront witnesses against him. "[T]he Confrontation Clause is not violated by admitting a declarant's out-of-court statements, as long as the declarant is testifying as a witness and subject to full and effective cross-examination." California v. Green , 399 U.S. 149, 158 (1970); see McDonnell v. United States , 472 F.2d 1153, 1155- 56 (8th Cir. 1973).

In Ramsey's case, Billy testified as a witness at trial, and Ramsey does not identify anything that prevented him from recalling Billy and questioning him about the tape. Ramsey's inability to cross-examine Billy earlier when he gave the statement at the police station does not violate the Confrontation Clause. See Green , 399 U.S. at 159 (inability to cross-examine witness at time of out-of-court statement is insignificant if defendant can cross-examine witness at trial).

Ramsey misplaces reliance on Tome v. United States , 513 U.S. 150, 156-60 (1995) (witness's earlier consistent out-of-court statement introduced to rebut charge of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive is inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B) when made before alleged fabrication, influence, or motive came into being). The Missouri Supreme Court decided the videotaped statements were admissible under state evidentiary law consistent with Tome , see Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 329, and we cannot disturb that decision. See Cornell v. Iowa , 628 F.2d 1044, 1048 n.3 (8th Cir. 1980).

Fifth, Ramsey asserts the prosecutor made improper arguments during the trial's guilt phase. Ramsey can receive no federal habeas relief based on a prosecutor's improper statements unless the prosecutor's misconduct infected the entire proceeding and rendered it fundamentally unfair in violation of due process. See Newlon v. Armontrout , 885 F.2d 1328, 1336 (8th Cir. 1989).

Contrary to Ramsey's view, the prosecutor did not indirectly comment on Ramsey's failure to testify. The challenged comments do not show the prosecutor intended to call attention to Ramsey's failure to testify, and we do not think the jury would naturally and necessarily understand the comments as highlighting Ramsey's failure to take the stand. See United States v. Moore , 129 F.3d 989, 993 (8th Cir. 1997), cert. denied , 118 S. Ct. 1402 (1998).

The evidence showed that when police arrested Ramsey at his mother's home on a charge unrelated to the murder, they found a foreign coin in his pocket. Ramsey tried to persuade the police to give the coin to his mother, but the police refused. During closing argument in the guilt phase, Ramsey's attorney said there was no evidence the coin found in Ramsey's pocket belonged to the Ledfords, even though there was evidence foreign coins were taken in the robbery.

In response, the prosecutor argued, "Roy Ramsey alone . . . knows where the coin came from. . . . Who, by his actions, let you know not only that this coin was part of the homicide but that he knew that by being in possession of this, he was caught. Roy Ramsey." (Trial Trans. at 1521-22.) Rather than commenting on Ramsey's failure to testify, the prosecutor pointed out that Ramsey's actions showed his consciousness of guilt because he knew the coin belonged to the Ledfords and could possibly tie him to the murders. Nor did the prosecutor comment on Ramsey's failure to testify in saying, "The uncontradicted evidence is that Roy Ramsey and Billy knew, with certainty, that Garnett Ledford knew Billy." (Trial Trans. at 1462.) Comments that the state's evidence is uncontradicted simply refer to the clarity and strength of the state's evidence. See Moore , 129 F.3d at 993.

We also reject Ramsey's assertion that the prosecutor's reference to Ramsey as "Rambo" was improper. The reference was permissible argument because it was based on trial testimony. See Pickens v. Lockhart , 4 F.3d 1446, 1453-54 (8th Cir. 1993). When asked who got the foreign coins stolen in the robbery, Billy responded, "Rambo, Roy." The prosecutor then said, "You just said something. What is Mr. Ramsey's nickname?" Billy responded, "Rambo." (Trial Trans. at 989.) The prosecutor then shifted to another line of questioning. The prosecutor cannot be faulted for capitalizing on this unsolicited evidence in his closing argument.

Sixth, Ramsey asserts parts of the prosecutor's penalty-phase closing argument were improper. Based on evidence that criminals become less dangerous as they age, Ramsey argued lack of future dangerousness as a mitigating factor in sentencing. In response, the prosecutor argued, "Roy Ramsey, Rambo, is not burning out. . . . We have no reason to believe anything else. Roy Ramsey, while in the most secure prison in the state, sodomized a member of our society. And that's something I am having trouble with. We can't protect people in our society from Roy Ramsey." (Trial Trans. at 1755-56.) Ramsey contends this argument improperly contorted a mitigating factor into an aggravating factor, injected evidence outside the record, and stated the prosecutor's personal opinion. We see no constitutional error.

The state had presented evidence that Ramsey committed sodomy in October 1976 "while awaiting trial" for robbing a man in August. See Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 333. That the sodomy happened in prison is a reasonable inference from the evidence. See id. Thus, the prosecutor could properly argue Ramsey could be dangerous in prison. See United States v. Atcheson , 94 F.3d 1237, 1244 (9th Cir. 1996) (no misconduct where prosecutor argued reasonable inferences based on record), cert. denied , 117 S. Ct. 1096 (1997). Even if the prosecutor's reference to his own trouble with Ramsey's act of sodomy was improper, there is not a reasonable probability the isolated remark affected the outcome of the penalty phase. See Newlon , 885 F.2d at 1337-38.

Seventh, Ramsey contends his rights to due process and a fair and impartial jury were violated when the trial court refused his proposed voir dire questions directed at the prospective jurors' ability to be impartial in sentencing Ramsey. "Voir dire plays a critical role in assuring criminal defendants that their Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury will be honored. Without an adequate voir dire the trial judge cannot fulfill [the] responsibility to remove prospective jurors who may be biased and defense counsel cannot intelligently exercise peremptory challenges." United States v. Spaar , 748 F.2d 1249, 1253 (8th Cir. 1984).

Nevertheless, trial judges have broad discretion to decide how to conduct voir dire, and they are not required to ask a question in any particular form simply because a party requests it. See id. A trial judge's refusal to ask certain voir dire questions is proper when the judge's overall examination, coupled with the charge to the jury, adequately protects the defendant from prejudice. See id.

Ramsey proposed the following voir dire questions:

Could each of you consider the death penalty in this case with the understanding that under Missouri law you are never required to impose it? If Roy Ramsey is convicted of first- degree murder, are there any of you who feel he should get the death penalty regardless of any mitigation circumstances? If you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, that Roy Ramsey is guilty of first-degree murder, would the defense have to convince you that he should not get the death penalty? Would your views on the death penalty prevent or substantially impair your ability to follow the following instruction: You are not compelled to fix death as the punishment, even if you do not find the existence of one or more mitigating circumstances, sufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances or circumstances which you find to exist. You must consider all of the circumstances in deciding whether to assess and declare the punishment at death. Whether that is to be your final decision rests with you. If you find one or all of the aggravating circumstances exist beyond a reasonable doubt, could you still consider life without parole as a possible punishment? If you found aggravating circumstances exist beyond a reasonable doubt and that they warrant the death penalty, could you still consider life without parole as a possible punishment? If you find aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt and find that the mitigating circumstances do not outweigh the aggravating circumstances, would you still consider life without probation or parole as a possible punishment?

Rather than posing these questions, the trial court told the jurors, "I'm going to ask you some questions [about] imposition of the death penalty. These questions are asked of you in the abstract, understanding that no evidence has been presented. . . . If you were selected as a juror in this case, you must be able to vote for both of the punishments authorized by law. My question is would you be capable of voting for a sentence of death? Would you be capable of voting for a sentence of life without parole?" (Trial Trans. at 578-80.) To help the attorneys exercise their peremptory challenges, the court also asked, "If you were chosen as a juror, would you have a tendency to favor either the death penalty, the life imprisonment penalty, or neither?" (Trial Trans. at 580.)

The trial court's queries were more direct and succinct than Ramsey's proposed questions, and addressed the crucial disqualification issue of whether the prospective jurors would automatically vote for or against the death penalty in every case, see Morgan v. Illinois , 504 U.S. 719, 728-29 , 732 (1992). Because the trial court's questioning reasonably assured Ramsey of a chance to detect a potential juror's prejudice about the death penalty, see Spaar , 748 F.2d at 1253, Ramsey was not denied his rights to due process and a fair trial.

Eighth, Ramsey asserts the jury instructions improperly limited the jury's consideration of mitigating circumstances. Ramsey complains that the instructions required the jury to decide whether the aggravating circumstances warranted imposition of death before the jury could consider any mitigating circumstances. As Ramsey sees it, the instructions improperly placed the burden on him to prove the mitigators outweighed the aggravators before he could receive the benefit of the mitigating circumstances.

In Bolder v. Armontrout , 921 F.2d 1359, 1367 (8th Cir. 1990), we rejected the same attack on Missouri sentencing instructions like those given in Ramsey's case. The Supreme Court recently approved similar capital sentencing instructions in Buchanan v. Angelone , 118 S. Ct. 757, 761-62 (1998). The instructions in Ramsey's case were proper because after the jury found the existence of an aggravating circumstance, the jury was not required to impose the death penalty even if the jury found no mitigating evidence. See Bolder , 921 F.2d at 1367; Buchanan , 118 S. Ct. at 761-62.

Ninth, Ramsey asserts Missouri's reasonable doubt instructions allowed the jury to convict him based on a lower burden of proof than the Constitution requires. Ramsey complains that the instructions defined proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" as that leaving the jury "firmly convinced" of Ramsey's guilt. We have already decided we would have to go beyond existing Supreme Court precedent to find constitutional infirmity in Missouri's instruction charging the jury to be "firmly convinced" before convicting a defendant. See Murray v. Delo , 34 F.3d 1367, 1382 (8th Cir. 1994).

Thus, we have held this challenge to Missouri's reasonable doubt instruction is barred by Teague v. Lane , 489 U.S. 288 (1989). See Murray , 34 F.3d at 1382; Reese v. Delo , 94 F.3d 1177, 1186 (8th Cir. 1996), cert. denied , 117 S. Ct. 2421 (1997). Also, Justice Ginsburg has indicated her approval of an instruction proposed by the Federal Judicial Center that defines proof beyond a reasonable doubt as proof leaving a juror firmly convinced. See Victor v. Nebraska , 511 U.S. 1, 26-27 (1994) (Ginsburg, J., concurring).

Tenth, Ramsey contends the trial court's denial of his challenges for cause to venirepersons who leaned toward the death penalty violated his rights to an impartial jury, due process, and equal protection in violation of the Sixth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. When the court denied Ramsey's motion challenging prospective jurors Atwood and Dillon for cause, Ramsey used peremptory challenges to dismiss them. Because Ramsey has not shown the seated jury was partial, his Sixth Amendment claim fails. See Cox v. Norris , 133 F.3d 565, 572 (8th Cir. 1997); Sloan , 54 F.3d at 1387 n.16. Loss of a peremptory challenge does not violate the constitutional right to a fair jury. See Cox , 133 F.3d at 572.

As for his due process claim, Ramsey must show he did not receive some right to peremptory challenges provided for by Missouri law. See Sloan , 54 F.3d at 1387. At the time of Ramsey's trial, Missouri law provided that "criminal defendants are entitled to a `full panel of qualified jurors before being required to make peremptory challenges' and [] failure to sustain a meritorious challenge for cause is prejudicial error." Id. (quoting State v. Wacaser , 794 S.W.2d 190, 193 (Mo. 1990)).

The trial court decided the views of Atwood and Dillon would not prevent or substantially impair their performance as jurors, and thus overruled Ramsey's challenges for cause. See Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 336. On habeas review, our role is limited to deciding whether the record fairly supports the state court's decision that Atwood and Dillon could be impartial. See Sloan , 54 F.3d at 1387. We see no manifest error. See id. Atwood and Dillon both said they were capable of voting for either the death sentence or life imprisonment without parole before stating their tendency to lean towards the death penalty. (Trial Trans. at 582- 83, 635.)

Given the trial court's introductory statements about aggravating and mitigating factors and the necessity of the prospective jurors' ability to follow the instructions (Trial Trans. at 578-80, 630-31), the unequivocal responses of Atwood and Dillon indicating they could vote for either sentence made clear they would not impose either sentence automatically and thus were qualified to sit as impartial jurors. See Morgan , 504 U.S. at 728 -29. As a result, Ramsey received a full panel of qualified jurors before exercising peremptory challenges, and the trial court properly denied Ramsey's challenges for cause. See Sloan , 54 F.3d at 1387.

Ramsey complains that the trial court did not allow him to ask Atwood and Dillon whether their views on capital punishment would prevent or substantially impair the performance of their duties as jurors in accordance with their instructions and their oath. (Trial Trans. at 595); see Morgan , 504 U.S. at 728 . In context, the statements of Atwood and Dillon that they could impose either sentence fairly supports the state court's decision that their views would not substantially impair their performance as jurors. See Ramsey , 864 S.W.2d at 336. As we said in our discussion about Ramsey's proposed voir dire questions, the questions asked by the trial court were sufficient to identify unqualified jurors. See Morgan , 504 U.S. at 728 -36. No further questions were constitutionally required. We conclude the trial court did not violate Ramsey's right to due process.

With respect to equal protection, Ramsey claims the court used two separate standards for juror qualification, one to retain jurors who favored the death penalty, and another to exclude jurors who questioned the death penalty's propriety. Contrary to Ramsey's claim, the record of voir dire shows the court was evenhanded.

The court asked more questions when a potential juror stated an inability to impose either life imprisonment or death, but not when a potential juror expressed a tendency to lean toward either sentence. The information about a prospective juror's tendency helped both the prosecution and the defense decide how to exercise peremptory challenges, and Ramsey used some of his to remove Atwood and Dillon.

In his eleventh claim, Ramsey asserts jury instructions five and seven violate due process because the instructions confuse the elements of first-degree murder and improperly shift the burden of proving deliberation to Ramsey. The instructions stated that if the jury found Ramsey or his brother had killed the Ledfords by shooting, the shooter knew his conduct was practically certain to cause death, and the shooter had deliberated for any length of time, first-degree murder had occurred, and if the jury found that "with the purpose of promoting or furthering the death of [the Ledfords], [Roy Ramsey] acted alone or together with or aided or encouraged Billy Ramsey in causing the death of [the Ledfords] and [Roy Ramsey] did so after deliberation, . . . then [the jury would] find [Roy Ramsey] guilty . . . of murder in the first degree."

Contrary to Ramsey's assertion, the instruction plainly required the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Ramsey himself had deliberated, as Missouri law requires, see State v. Ferguson , 887 S.W.2d 585, 587 (Mo. 1994). The instruction did not violate due process. See Kilgore v. Bowersox , 124 F.3d 985, 991 (8th Cir. 1997); Thompson v. Missouri Bd. of Probation & Parole , 39 F.3d 186, 190 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Baker v. Leapley , 965 F.2d 657, 659 (8th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (to warrant federal habeas relief for state prisoner, instructional error must constitute a fundamental defect that results in a complete miscarriage of justice or renders the defendant's entire trial unfair).

Last, Ramsey contends the district court should have given him permission to raise fourteen more issues on appeal. In Ramsey's view, the district court committed error in granting him a certificate of appealability limited to eleven issues under 28 U.S.C. 2253 as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

Although he initially requested a certificate of appealability and we remanded the question of the certificate's issuance to the district court, Ramsey now asserts the district court should have given him an unlimited certificate of probable cause under the pre-Act version of 2253. Ramsey filed his habeas petition in December 1995 before the Act's April 1996 effective date, and he asserts the Act does not govern habeas petitions filed before then. See Lindh v. Murphy , 117 S. Ct. 2059 (1997).

Section 2253 requires a state prisoner to obtain authorization from a district or circuit judge before appealing from the denial of a federal habeas petition. Before the Act, 2253 required a state prisoner to obtain a certificate of probable cause. See 28 U.S.C. 2253 (1994). The Act amended 2253 to require a state prisoner to obtain a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C.A. 2253(c) (West Supp. 1998). The same substantive standard governs issuance of the pre-Act certificate of probable cause and the post-Act certificate of appealability. See Roberts v. Bowersox , 137 F.3d 1062, 1068 (8th Cir. 1998); Tiedeman v. Benson , 122 F.3d 518, 521 (8th Cir. 1997).

Both certificates issue only if the applicant makes a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. See Roberts , 137 F.3d at 1068; Cannon v. Johnson , 134 F.3d 683, 685 (5th Cir. 1998); see also Barefoot v. Estelle , 463 U.S. 880, 893 (1983). The post-Act certificate of appealability requires a judge to specify which issues satisfy this standard, see 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(3), and appellate review of the habeas denial is limited to the specified issues, see Lackey v. Johnson , 116 F.3d 149, 151 (5th Cir. 1997).

The pre-Act certificate of probable cause did not require specification and placed the entire case before the court of appeals, see Roberts , 137 F.3d at 1068, but the court of appeals could confine the issues on appeal to those satisfying the substantial showing standard, see Garrison v. Patterson , 391 U.S. 464, 466 (1968) (per curiam) (court of appeals may consider the certificate of probable cause and merits questions together; full briefing and oral argument is not required in every case in which a certificate of probable cause is granted). Indeed, courts of appeals have been exercising this discretion for years. See Vicaretti v. Henderson , 645 F.2d 100, 101 (2d Cir. 1980) (recognizing practice by several circuits of issuing limited certificates of probable cause); Camillo v. Wyrick , 640 F.2d 931, 934 (8th Cir. 1981) (Eighth Circuit confined issues in order granting a certificate of probable cause).

As Ramsey acknowledges, we have already held the Act's amended version of 2253 applies to habeas petitioners like him, who filed their habeas petitions before the Act's effective date but had not yet appealed the denial of their habeas petition. See Tiedeman , 122 F.3d at 520-21. Citing contrary cases from other circuits, Ramsey argues Tiedeman was wrongly decided. One panel of this court is bound by the decisions of other panels, however. See United States v. Rodamaker , 56 F.3d 898, 903 (8th Cir. 1995).

Even if the new certificate of appealability requirement does not apply to Ramsey's pre-Act habeas petition, Ramsey would be no better off. The district court would have granted Ramsey a certificate of probable cause, and although Ramsey would have been free to choose which claims to assert on appeal, we would have narrowed the issues for full briefing on the merits to the same eleven selected by the district court.

In our December 22, 1997 order denying Ramsey's application to us for an expanded certificate of appealability or certificate of probable cause, we decided Ramsey had not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right with respect to the fourteen rejected issues.

Ramsey does not challenge our decision to limit the issues in his appellate brief, explain why the fourteen rejected issues meet the substantial showing standard, or point out how the district court or this court made a mistake in concluding the fourteen issues do not warrant full briefing and oral argument on appeal. See Kerr v. Federal Emergency Management Agency , 113 F.3d 884, 886 n.3 (8th Cir. 1997) (argument waived when not supported by specific law or facts from record).

In sum, Ramsey has not shown the rejected issues merit appeal by carrying his burden to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right on those issues. See Barefoot , 463 U.S. at 893 . Having considered all of Ramsey's arguments, we affirm the district court's denial of Ramsey's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge, concurs in the result and concurs in the judgment.

 
 


Roy Ramsey (right) with his father (left).

 

 

 
 
 
 
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