United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Luke Adam Stanton, Sr., an inmate confined in the Texas
prison system, filed the above-styled and numbered petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254. For reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the
petition is not well-taken and that it will be denied.
History of the Case
is challenging his Denton County convictions for multiple
sex-based offenses against K.B., R.B., and A.A. in three
cases tried together: cause numbers F-2011-1911-C (Counts
I-IV committed against K.B.), F-2011-1912-C (Counts I-IV
committed against R.B.), and F-2011-1913-C (a single count
committed against A.A.). After a jury trial, he was sentenced
on the various counts on August 24, 2012. In F-2011-1911-C,
he was sentenced to fifteen years of imprisonment for sexual
assault (Count I) and fifteen years of imprisonment on each
count of indecency with a child (Counts II-IV), with the
sentences running consecutively. In F-2011-1912-C, he was
sentenced to forty years of imprisonment for continuous
sexual abuse of a young child (Count I) and fifteen years on
each count of indecency with a child (Counts II-IV), with the
sentences running consecutively. In F-2011-1913-C, he was
sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for indecency with a
child. The convictions were affirmed. Stanton v.
State, No. 08-12-00293-CR, 2014 WL 5100102,
08-12-00294-CR, 2014 WL 5100106, 08-12-00295-CR, 2014 WL
5100107 (Tex. App. - El Paso Oct. 10, 2014, pet. ref'd).
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused his petition for
discretionary review on March 4, 2015.
filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in state
court. SHCR at 1. The trial court issued findings of
fact and conclusions of law. Id. at 333-340. On
January 13, 2016, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied
the applications without written order on findings of the
trial court without a hearing.
present petition (Dkt. #1) was filed on August 18, 2016.
Stanton attached a memorandum of law in support of the
petition. He brings the following grounds for relief:
1. Brady violations by investigative agencies;
2. Prosecutor misrepresented the physical evidence;
3. Bad faith destruction of potentially exculpatory evidence;
4. Prosecutor used perjured testimony; and
5. Ineffective assistance of counsel.
Director filed an answer (Dkt. #23) on February 11, 207.
Stanton filed a response (Dkt. #36) on March 30, 2017.
Background of the Case
Eighth Court of Appeals discussed the facts of this case as
found [Stanton] guilty of multiple sex-based offenses
committed against K.B., R.B., and A.A. in three cases tried
R.B. and K.B. were [Stanton's] stepdaughters at the time
these offenses were committed. R.B., who was sixteen years of
age when this case was tried in August 2012, testified that
[Stanton] touched her vagina “almost daily” both
before and after she turned fourteen years of age. The first
incident occurred when she was 10 or 11 years of age.
[Stanton] rubbed ointment on mosquito bites on her legs and
he gradually moved his hand until he was touching her vagina
over her clothes. R.B. reported the incident to her mother,
K.S., and K.S. replied that she would talk to [Stanton]. When
K.S. asked [Stanton] about R.B.'s statement, [Stanton]
denied any wrongdoing. [Stanton] continued to assault R.B. by
touching her genitals both on top of and under her clothing
on many other occasions. She explained that he often began by
rubbing her feet and legs, but he eventually moved his hand
so that he was touching her vagina. R.B. also testified that
[Stanton] touched and squeezed her breast with his hand. R.B.
told her mother what [Stanton] was doing to her, but K.S. did
not believe her.
K.B. was twenty years old at the time of trial. K.B.
testified that when she was in the fourth grade, [Stanton]
came into her bedroom at night, reached under the covers, and
squeezed her vagina with his hand. K.B. kicked him and pulled
away from him. [Stanton] then left the room. On another
occasion when K.B. was about to enter the fifth grade, she
and R.B. were having a water gun fight in the pool. [Stanton]
was also in the pool and he got behind K.B. and pulled her
onto his lap. [Stanton] moved K.B.'s hands under the
water and made her touch his penis. He also moved her
swimsuit bottom and tried to penetrate her with his penis.
She tried to pull away because it hurt but he would not let
go of her. K.B. did not cry out because she did not want to
scare R.B. who was only five or six years of age at the time.
[Stanton] finally let her go and she got out of the pool. In
another incident, [Stanton] pulled down K.B.'s pants and
underwear and touched her genitals with his mouth and tongue.
K.B. tried to kick him and get away but he held her down.
K.B. testified that [Stanton] continued to touch her genitals
with his hands and mouth on many other occasions when her
mother was at work. These incidents occurred at least twice a
week for six years or, in the words of K.B., “[t]oo
many times to count.” K.B. recalled that whenever she
rejected [Stanton's] advances completely, he would be
mean to her and R.B. When K.B. was in elementary school, she
tried to tell her mother that [Stanton] had touched her
genitals, but K.S. responded by questioning whether K.B. was
confused or mistaken about what had happened. K.B. insisted
she was not mistaken and her mother talked to [Stanton] about
it. He denied it.
In 2008, R.B. told her school counselor what [Stanton] had
done. K.S. took both R.B. and K.B. to the Children's
Advocacy Center in Lewisville. Prior to the interview, K.S.
asked R.B. if she could be mistaken or if it could have been
an accident. K.B. described her mother as being
“panicky” prior to the interviews and she told
K.B. that they could be taken away from her and they might
never see one another again. R.B. and K.B. did not tell the
truth during their interviews because they were scared.
[Stanton] continued to touch both of them inappropriately. In
2009, they were interviewed again but this time reported what
[Stanton] had been doing to them. Nothing happened and
[Stanton] returned home. He also continued to molest them.
In May of 2011, thirteen-year-old A.A. visited at R.B.'s
home. [Stanton] got onto the bed where R.B. and A.A. were
watching television and began rubbing A.A.'s feet. A.A.
thought it was weird but she trusted him. [Stanton] moved
from A.A.'s feet to her legs and he gradually moved his
hand higher until he was touching her butt and vagina. He
suddenly stopped when R.B.'s mother got home from work
and walked into the room. A.A. told R.B. what had happened
when they went to A.A.'s house. A.A. reported the assault
to a school counselor a week later. On June 1, 2011, R.B.
used her cellphone to secretly record [Stanton] touching her
inappropriately. After K.B. saw the video, she took R.B. to
the Sheriff's Office rather than telling their mother
because she was afraid that her mother or [Stanton] would
delete the videos. Law enforcement conducted an investigation
and a grand jury returned three indictments against
Stanton, 2014 WL 5100102 at *1-2; Stanton,
2014 WL 5100106 at *1-2; Stanton, 2014 WL 5100107 at
role of federal courts in reviewing habeas corpus petitions
by prisoners in state custody is exceedingly narrow. A person
seeking federal habeas corpus review must assert a violation
of a federal constitutional right. Lowery v.
Collins, 988 F.2d 1364, 1367 (5th Cir. 1993). Federal
habeas corpus relief will not issue to correct errors of
state constitutional, statutory, or procedural law, unless a
federal issue is also present. Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); West v. Johnson, 92 F.3d
1385, 1404 (5th Cir. 1996). In the course of reviewing state
proceedings, a federal court does “not sit as a super
state supreme court to review error under state law.”
Wood v. Quarterman, 503 F.3d 408, 414 (5th Cir.
2007) (citations omitted); Porter v. Estelle, 709
F.2d 944, 957 (5th Cir. 1983).
petition was filed in 2016, thus review is governed by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S.
320, 327 (1997). Under AEDPA, a petitioner who is in custody
“pursuant to the judgment of a State court” is
not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief with respect to
any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court
proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceedings.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “By its terms § 2254
bars relitigation of any claim ‘adjudicated on the
merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in
§§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98 (2011). AEDPA imposes a
“highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court
rulings, and demands that state-court decisions be given the
benefit of the doubt.” Renico v. Lett, 559
U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). With respect to the first provision, a “state
court decision is ‘contrary to' clearly established
federal law if (1) the state court ‘applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law' announced in Supreme Court
cases, or (2) the state court decides a case differently than
the Supreme Court did on a set of materially
indistinguishable facts.” Nelson v.
Quarterman, 472 F.3d 287, 292 (5th Cir. 2006) (en banc)
(quoting Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16
(2003)). “[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) is limited
to the record that was before the state court that
adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180-81 (2011). As such,
“evidence later introduced in federal court is
irrelevant.” Id. at 184. “The same rule
necessarily applies to a federal court's review of purely
factual determinations under § 2254(d)(2), as all nine
Justices acknowledged.” Blue v. Thaler, 665
F.3d 647, 656 (5th Cir. 2011). With respect to §
2254(d)(2), a Texas court's factual findings are presumed
to be sound unless a petitioner rebuts the “presumption
of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.”
Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 240 (2005)
(citing § 2254(e)(1)). The ...