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Gee v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas

July 9, 2019

JASON KYLE GEE, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MCBRYDE JOHN

         This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner, Jason Kyle Gee, a state prisoner confined in the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, against Lorie Davis, director of that division, respondent. After having considered the pleadings, state court records, and relief sought by petitioner, the court has concluded that the petition should be denied.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A jury in Wise County, Texas, No. CR18318, found petitioner guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assessed his punishment at 75 years' imprisonment and a $10, 000 fine. (Clerk's R. 21.} Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused his petition for discretionary review. (Electronic R. 1.) Petitioner did not seek writ of certiorari or post-conviction state habeas relief. (Pet. 3-4.)

         The appellate court summarized the evidence at trial as follows:

One day in March 2015, [petitioner] and Jeseca Drury, who were dating each other, visited the house of Bryon Nabors and Michelle Combs. Drury wanted to trade two power tools for illegal drugs, and Nabors called Skinner to facilitate the trade. Skinner arrived at the house. According to Nabors, [petitioner] gave Skinner the power tools, and Skinner gave [petitioner] methamphetamine.
According to Combs, after Skinner left, [petitioner] became upset. [Petitioner] believed that Skinner had "shorted" Drury on the agreed-upon amount of methamphetamine. Skinner had agreed to deliver one gram of methamphetamine but had given Drury only about half a gram. Nabors attempted to contact Skinner again but was not able to immediately reach him. Nabors observed that [petitioner] "storm[ed] around" and "kept talking about" the fact that Skinner had not delivered the promised amount of drugs.
Later that night, [petitioner], Drury, Nabors, and Combs-all of whom had been using methamphetamine that day-traveled together in Nabors's truck and spotted Skinner and Jessica Puckett (Skinner's girlfriend), who were riding together in Puckett's car. Both vehicles pulled over. Nabors got out of his truck and approached Skinner. They spoke for a couple of minutes. According to Nabors, Skinner conveyed that he would eventually deliver more methamphetamine.
When Nabors got back into the truck, he attempted to reassure [petitioner] that Skinner was "going to take care of the situation." Drury testified that Nabors told [petitioner] that Skinner did not "have anything" at that time and that [petitioner] could "check back with him in a couple of hours." But [petitioner] became angrier, jumped out of the truck, moved toward Puckett's car with a knife in his hand, yelled in that direction, and attempted to slash or stab a tire with the knife as Skinner began to drive away. Skinner testified, "[petitioner] went to make a stabbing motion toward me or the car or something, and I mashed on the accelerator."' According to Drury, when [petitioner] returned to the truck, he said, "I cannot believe I stabbed [Puckett's] tire."
Skinner saw [petitioner]'s attempt to slash the tire and became angry. Knowing that [petitioner] had a knife, he circled back toward Nabors's truck, stopped the car, got out of it, and approached [petitioner], who had returned to the truck. Skinner said to [petitioner], "You just fucked up, boy." Nabors heard Skinner's words and believed that Skinner was going to "whip [petitioner's] ass."
[Petitioner] and Skinner began to fight. During the fight, [petitioner] used the knife to slash Skinner's throat. The sequence of when [petitioner] did so is in dispute. According to Skinner, when he approached [petitioner], [petitioner] slashed his throat, and Skinner then began to hit [petitioner] with a car door in attempt to hurt him and knock him off balance. Skinner testified, "[A]fter I felt the impact is when I started slamming the door." According to Drury and [petitioner], however, Skinner slammed [petitioner] with the door before [petitioner] slashed Skinner's neck.
Puckett moved Skinner back toward her car, and according to Puckett, [petitioner] "came at [her] with the knife." After Puckett helped Skinner get in the car, while he was severely bleeding in the front passenger's seat and trying to hold pressure against his neck with a shirt, she drove toward a hospital and called 9-1-1.
At the same time, [petitioner] jumped into Nabors's truck and told Nabors to "get him out of [there]." He shouted at Nabors and Combs, telling them not to say anything to anyone about what had occurred. According to Nabors, [petitioner] said that Nabors and Combs "better not say a damn thing or [he would] kill [them] both." Nabors eventually pulled over, and [petitioner] and Drury got out of the truck. They hid near a bush and called [petitioner]'s mother. [Petitioner] threw the knife away. Nabors and Combs returned home.
Puckett and Skinner eventually arrived at a hospital. Skinner had emergency surgery to treat a lacerated jugular vein and an exposed trachea. In one of Skinner's pockets, the police found a small folding pocketknife; the police did not recover any other weapons from Skinner, from the car he had been in, or from the scene of the crime. The police discovered Skinner's fingerprint and his blood on a door of Nabors's truck. A police officer spoke with [petitioner] after arresting him. [Petitioner] did not deny slashing Skinner's throat or claim that Skinner had used a weapon during the incident, but he stated that he had feared for his life and that he was trying to get away before Skinner attacked him.
A grand jury indicted [petitioner] for aggravated assault; the indictment alleged that the knife he had used qualified as a deadly weapon. [Petitioner] received appointed counsel, chose the jury to assess his punishment in the event of his conviction, and pled not guilty. At trial, he testified that when he approached Puckett's car, a window was down, and he asked Skinner "if he was going to make it right." According to [petitioner], at that point, Skinner became angry, reached under his seat "for something," and attempted to open his door. [Petitioner] initially did not let him. Skinner told [petitioner] to "[s]tep back from [his] fucking door," and [petitioner] then did so. Skinner got out of the car, but Puckett began yelling at him, and he got back into the car and began to drive away. At that point, [petitioner] punched one of Puckett's tires with one hand while holding the knife with his other hand. He had pulled his knife out because he had thought that Skinner had "pulled something from underneath his seat."
According to [petitioner], he was "really scared" when Skinner circled Puckett's car back toward him, got out of the car, and approached him. [Petitioner] testified that he "thought [Skinner] had pulled" a weapon. He testified that Skinner opened the door of the truck and repeatedly slammed it against him. According to [petitioner], because he had "nowhere to go," thought Skinner had a weapon (although not knowing whether Skinner did), and feared for his life, he slit Skinner's throat.
[Petitioner] testified that he thought that Skinner had a weapon because he "got in his car and came back." But [petitioner] admitted that he never saw Skinner with a weapon. [Petitioner] also admitted that he had displayed a deadly weapon (the knife) in an aggressive manner to Skinner before Skinner drove away and then circled back toward him. [Petitioner] denied that he had threatened Puckett with the knife after slashing Skinner's throat.

         The trial court's charge to the jury on the issue of [petitioner]'s guilt contained language related to the law of self-defense and instructed the jury as follows:

[I]f you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt . . . that [petitioner] did . . . intentionally, knowingly[, ] or recklessly cause bodily injury to Clifton Skinner by cutting Clifton Skinner with a knife, and [petitioner] did then and there use or exhibit a deadly weapon . . . during the commission of said assault, then you will find [petitioner] guilty[, ] . . . but [if] you further find from the evidence, or you have a reasonable doubt thereof, that . . . [petitioner] reasonably believed that from the words or conduct, or both, of Clifton Skinner, it reasonably appeared to [petitioner], as viewed from his standpoint, that his life or person was in danger and there was created in his mind a reasonable expectation or fear of death or serious bodily injury from the use of unlawful deadly force by Clifton Skinner, and that acting under such apprehension and reasonably believing that the ...

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