Man can't seek relief for murder conviction after robbery resentencing

January 4, 2017

An inmate convicted of murder and attempted robbery cannot be granted habeas relief for the murder conviction because the statute of limitations for that conviction under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act had passed, despite a resentencing on the robbery charge, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Tuesday.

In 1995, Duane Turner was found guilty of murder, criminal confinement and Class A felony attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and was sentenced to life without parole, 20 years’ imprisonment and 45 years imprisonment, respectively. In 2000, Turner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the state trial court, but the trial court dismissed all of his claims for relief in 2011.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision in part, finding that his counsel had been ineffective in failing to raise on appeal the double jeopardy issue of a single victim’s death, which formed the basis of both the murder and attempted robbery convictions. On remand, the trial court in 2013 reduced his robbery conviction to a Class B felony and resentenced him from 45 years’ imprisonment to 10 years for that count.

Then in January 2014, Turner filed a pro se petition for habeas relief in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana seeking resentencing on his murder conviction. However, Turner’s window for filing his habeas petition expired Sept. 23, 1998, so the district court ordered him to show that his petition was timely. In response, Turner argued that he had not had access to a law library from 1997 to 2000 and that his case had been pending in state collateral review from 2000 to 2013.

The district court ultimately denied Turner’s petition, holding that “the state post-conviction relief process could not toll the federal deadline because Turner’s time under The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 had expired before he had filed for post-conviction relief.”

After initially dismissing Turner’s appeal, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held in December 2015 that Turner “had made a substantial showing of the denial of his right to effective assistance of counsel” and appointed appellate counsel for him.

Turner argued that the one-year time limit for a state prisoner to file for a writ of habeas corpus under the AEDPA did not apply to his case because “the date on which the judgment became final” was changed by the state court’s grant of relief and resentencing on the robbery count in 2013.

But 7th Circuit Judge Joel Flaum wrote Tuesday in an opinion affirming the denial of Turner’s petition that his 2013 relief was limited to his robbery conviction, while his habeas petition challenges his conviction for murder and related life sentence.

“Thus, the judgment that is relevant for purposes of his presentation is the one from 1995, and the clock has long since run out on this habeas petition,” Flaum wrote.

The 7th Circuit panel further rejected Turner’s argument that the AEDPA’s statute of limitation could only be calculated from one judgment and instead held that “the state may pursue convictions on as many crimes as it likes…AEDPA’s one-year time limit will then run from each judgment.”

The case is Duane E. Turner v. Richard Brown, 15-1592.


Recent Articles by Olivia Covington