Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Capital Habeas Petitioner Gets Relief

Williams v. Trammell, -- Fed. Appx. --, 2013 WL 4504774 (10th Cir. 8/26/13)(Okla.)(unpublished) - yet another reversal in an Okla. death case, based on Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980), due to failure to instruct on second-degree depraved-mind murder. In Beck, the Court held that a sentence of death may not be constitutionally imposed for a capital offense when the jury was not permitted to consider a verdict of guilt of a lesser included non-capital offense which would have been supported by the evidence. Here, a rational jury could have acquitted Williams of first-degree murder and convicted him of second-degree murder, on which an instruction had been requested, in light of evidence that he was severely emotionally disturbed at the time of the murder and may not have had the requisite mental state for first-degree murder.