State of Missouri v.
Doyle James Williams
652 S. W. 2D 102
Doyle James Williams was
executed on April 10, 1996
In April 1980 Doyle Williams and John Morgan burglarized the medical
offices of Dr. A. H. Domann in Auxvasse, Missouri taking, among
other items, blank prescription pads.
Shortly thereafter, defendant and Morgan went to
Morgan’s trailer home and in the presence of Kerry Brummett,
discussed means of utilizing the prescription pads.
At that time, Brummett, who was Morgan’s roommate,
saw the prescription pads which bore Dr. Domann’s name. Later in the
day, defendant made an effort to pass forged prescriptions in a
Columbia drug store, but was caught, arrested and charged and later
convicted of attempt to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.
Faced with the charge arising from the forged
prescription, defendant was convinced he could "beat the rap" and
confided to Morgan that he could avoid conviction "if the doctor
didn’t testify that he hadn’t signed the prescription" – a presage
for the death of Dr. Domann.
Sometime later, on October 7, 1980, Williams
revealed to Morgan that he had killed Dr. Domann and placed his body
in a Callaway County clay pit. On October 8, 1980 defendant
suggested that Kerry Brummett should meet the same fate as Dr.
Domann in retribution for having testified against Morgan in forgery
The next day, October 9, 1980 Betty Coleman, a
friend of Doyle Williams arranged for a date with Kerry Brummett in
Jefferson City. She drove the unsuspecting Brummett to a deserted
area in Callaway County adjacent to the Missouri River for an early
morning rendezvous with Morgan and Williams.
Brummett was dragged from the auto by Williams
and Morgan. They beat and kicked Brummett about the head and body.
Williams used a .357 Magnum to beat Brummett. Using a pair of
handcuffs he had previously borrowed from a Auxvasse police officer
friend, Williams, with Morgan’s help, was able to bind Brummett’s
hands behind his back and force him, bleeding and dazed, into the
trunk of Coleman’s auto.
Brummet was then driven to a location near the
river bank and pulled from the car. Morgan obtained a bumper jack
and rope to serve as a body weight. Williams continued his bodily
attack on the handcuffed victim, striking him in the back and
sending him stumbling down the riverbank toward the Missouri River.
Brummett continued to resist and assured the men he would not
testify against them.
Brummett ran directly into the river and, still
handcuffed, sank beneath the surface, able to rise twice. As
Brummett surfaced for the second time, Williams ordered Morgan to
shoot him. Morgan responded by firing over the victim’s head.
Williams made an attempt to retrieve the body and remove the
handcuffs which could be traced, but he failed in his effort. The
body was retrieved seven days later on a sandbar.
Cause of the victim’s death was drowning. His
scalp had been lacerated by a blunt instrument. At the point of
assault, the victim’s eye glasses and plastic name tag were found.
Brummett’s gold chain, traces of the victim of blood, hair and the
brand of cigarettes smoked by him were found in the car used by
defendant and Morgan.
Defendant was convicted when Morgan later
testified against him.
06/29 - (Baltimore, Maryland) Williams pled guilty to
Interstate Transportation of a Stolen Motor Vehicle and received a
sentence of 2 – ˝ years probation.
06/02 - Willaims pled guilty in Greensboro, North Carolina
to Interstate Transportation of a Stolen Vehicle. He received
suspended imposition of sentence and was placed on one year
probation to run consecutive with sentence on Jun 29, 1967.
09/27 - Williams pled guilty to eleven counts of Interstate
Transportation and Concealment of Stolen Motor Vehicles. Willaims
was paroled from this confinement on November 20, 1978. That parole
was revoked in October of 1980.
4/? - Doyle Williams and John Morgan burglarized the office of Dr.
A.H. Domann and stole blank prescription pads. Morgan’s roommate
Kerry Brummett sees the pads and hears Williams and Morgan
discussing their use. Later the same day, Williams is arrested
attempting to obtain drugs using prescriptions forged on the pads.
Williams tells Morgan that he can "beat the rap" if Dr. Domann does
10/6 – Williams murders Dr. Domann.
10/7 – Williams tells Morgan that he has killed Dr. Domann and
dumped the body in a clay pit (Williams was convicted of this murder
in a separate trial and the conviction was affirmed on appeal. See
State v. Williams, 662 S.W.2d 277 (Mo.App., E.D. 1983))
10/8 – Williams suggests to Morgan that they should kill Kerry
10/9-10 – Williams and Morgan murder Kerry Brummett.
04/06 – Williams is charged with the murder of Kerry Brummett.
07/16 - Williams was sentenced to life for Attempting to Obtain a
Controlled Substance by Fraud.
09/14 – Williams is tried by a jury on a change of venue in Clay
County for the murder of Kerry Brummett. The jury convicts Williams
and recommends a sentence of Death.
11/13 – The trial court denies Williams’ motion for new trial and
sentences him to death.
01/29 - Williams received a sentence of life imprisonment
in Marion County for the death of Dr. A. H. Domann. This sentence to
run consecutively with any other sentence.
5/31 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Williams’ conviction and
3/2 – Williams’ initial habeas corpus petition is dismissed for
failure to exhaust state remedies.
3/21 – Williams files a motion seeking relief under Missouri Supreme
Court Rule 27.26.
3/27 – The Rule 27.26 motion is denied by the Circuit Court of Clay
County following an evidentiary hearing.
6/6 – The Eighth Circuit U.S. court of Appeals affirms the dismissal
of the first federal habeas corpus petition.
5/15 – The Missouri court of Appeals, Western District, affirms the
denial of the Rule 27.26 motion.
7/21 – Williams files his second federal habeas corpus petition.
2/9 – The United States district Court denies Williams’ second
federal habeas corpus petition.
12/7 – A three judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
grants the writ of habeas by a 2-1 vote
8/15 – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc by an 8-2
vote vacates the opinion and judgment of the three judge panel and
affirms the denial of the writ of habeas corpus by the United States
1/30 – Williams files a state habeas corpus petition in the Circuit
Court of Washington County.
2/15 – The state habeas corpus petition is transferred to the
Missouri Supreme Court.
3/5 – The state habeas corpus to petition is denied.
3/14 – Petitioner files his third federal habeas corpus petition.
8/1 – Williams files a motion to recall the mandate in the Missouri
10/8 – The motion to recall the mandate is denied.
3/2 – Williams files and amended version of his third federal habeas
4/28 – A United States Magistrate issues a 120-page report and
recommendation finding after extensive analysis that all the grounds
raised were either an abuse of the writ, or abusive of the writ and
defaulted, or successive in that they have previously been rejected
on their merits in earlier litigation, or not cognizable in a
federal habeas corpus petition.
1/11 – The United States District denies the third federal habeas
1/19 – The United States District court denies the third federal
habeas corpus petition.
2/28 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets Williams’ execution date for
April 10, 1996
3/8 – A three judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
grants a stay based on a Williams’ motion for a certificate of
4/4 – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc denied the state’s
motion for a rehearing of stay and motion to vacate the stay.
4/9 – The United States Supreme Court grants the state’s motion to
vacate the stay.
763 F.2d 363
Donald WYRICK, Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals,
Submitted Jan. 15, 1985.
Decided June 6, 1985.
Before BRIGHT, ARNOLD, and BOWMAN,
Doyle James Williams, a state
prisoner under sentence of death for capital murder, appeals
from the district court's
dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254 for failure to exhaust available state
For reversal, Williams argues
that he satisfied the exhaustion requirement by filing motions
to recall the mandate in the Missouri Supreme Court.
Alternatively, Williams contends that even if he failed to
exhaust state remedies, the district court should have entered a
stay of execution and retained jurisdiction while litigation
proceeded in state court. We affirm the dismissal of the writ.
In September 1981, a jury
found Williams guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to
death. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and
sentence. State v. Williams, 652 S.W.2d 102 (Mo.1983).
Thereafter, Williams filed the present petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. As amended, his petition asserts six grounds for
relief. In its response to the petition, the State pointed out
that Williams had failed to exhaust available state remedies on
all grounds presented as required by Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S.
509, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 71 L.Ed.2d 379 (1982).
At that point, with his habeas
petition pending, Williams filed three pro se motions to recall
the mandate in the Missouri Supreme Court. In the first two
motions, Williams alleged that he was denied effective
assistance of counsel on direct appeal because his attorney
failed to raise several of the constitutional violations
Williams now asserts in his habeas petition. In his third motion,
Williams asked the Missouri Supreme Court to consider all points
of error presented in his amended habeas petition.
The Missouri Supreme Court
summarily denied all three motions without comment in separate
one-line orders. Williams then argued in district court that he
had satisfied the exhaustion requirement of section 2254 because
he had presented all grounds asserted in his habeas petition to
the Missouri Supreme Court either on direct appeal or in one or
more of his motions to recall the mandate.
In an order entered on March
2, 1984, the district court held that Williams had exhausted two
of the claims in his amended habeas petition by presenting them
to the Missouri Supreme Court on direct appeal, but that he had
failed to exhaust state remedies on his four remaining claims.
The court rejected Williams'
contention that his motions to recall the mandate, summarily
dismissed by the state supreme court, were sufficient to satisfy
the exhaustion requirement. Noting that Rose v. Lundy, supra,
requires federal courts to dismiss state habeas petitions
containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims, the court
dismissed Williams' mixed petition without prejudice. This
Williams argues that the
district court erred in dismissing his petition because he
fairly presented all of his federal constitutional claims to the
Missouri Supreme Court and gave that court a fair opportunity to
consider the merits of his claims. Relying on language in State
v. Thompson, 659 S.W.2d 766, 769 (Mo.1983) (en banc),
recognizing "that a mandate may be recalled in order to remedy a
deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of a criminal
defendant," Williams contends that he used proper state
procedure to exhaust the constitutional claims not raised on
In rejecting this argument,
the district court concluded that in Thompson, the Missouri
Supreme Court did not approve the use of motions to recall the
mandate as a vehicle for presenting the merits of all
constitutional claims not raised on direct appeal.
Rather, Thompson reiterates
the long-recognized and limited uses of that remedy, for example,
where the appellate court has the unique knowledge necessary to
dispose of a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate
counsel, or where a conflict exists between a decision of a
Missouri appellate court and the United States Supreme Court.
See id.; Morris v. State, 603 S.W.2d 938, 941 (Mo.1980) (en banc).
See also Tyler v. Wyrick, 730 F.2d 1209, 1210 (8th Cir.) (per
curiam), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 138, 83 L.Ed.2d
This court gives great weight
to the conclusions of district judges on questions of state law.
Bergstrom v. Sambo's Restaurants, Inc., 687 F.2d 1250, 1255 (8th
Cir.1982); Noll v. People of State of Nebraska, 537 F.2d 967,
969 n. 3 (8th Cir.1976).
Moreover, we agree with the
district court that Williams' motions to recall the mandate were
neither an appropriate nor adequate means of exhausting state
remedies with respect to all the claims asserted in his habeas
petition. The established Missouri procedure for obtaining post-conviction
relief is to file a motion pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court
Rule 27.26. Williams' motions to recall the mandate were, as the
district court noted, an apparent attempt to circumvent the Rule
Nor can we say, in the
circumstances, that the Missouri Supreme Court based its
unexplained summary denial of Williams' motions on an evaluation
of the merits of his claims, rather than on procedural grounds.
See White v. Wyrick, 432 F.Supp. 1316, 1317 (W.D.Mo.1977), aff'd,
651 F.2d 597 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1058, 102 S.Ct.
608, 70 L.Ed.2d 596 (1981) (suggesting that the state court's
summary disposition was probably on procedural grounds).
Accordingly, we find no error in the district court's dismissal
of Williams' petition for failure to exhaust state remedies.
B. Retaining Jurisdiction
in Federal Court.
Alternatively, Williams argues
that even if he failed to exhaust state remedies, the district
court should have entered a stay of execution and retained
jurisdiction while litigation proceeded in the state courts.
Although, as petitioner notes, federal courts may retain
jurisdiction and hold a case in abeyance pending exhaustion of
state remedies, see, e.g., Collins v. Lockhart, 707 F.2d 341,
344 (8th Cir.1983), they are not required to do so. It is not
apparent from the record before this court that the state has
set an execution date in this case, and, in any event, Williams
does not deny that the Missouri Supreme Court has available
procedures for obtaining stays of execution pending completion
of post-conviction proceedings. We believe this is a matter
appropriately handled by the state courts at this juncture.
Accordingly, we affirm the
district court's dismissal of this action.