Black v. Carpenter, No. 13-5224 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 1986, Black shot his girlfriend Angela’s ex-husband. Black pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years at a Davidson County, Tennessee, workhouse. In 1988, while on a weekend furlough, Black entered Angela’s home, shot Angela as she slept, and then shot Angela’s nine-year-old and six-year-old children, killing all three. Black returned to the workhouse before officers discovered the bodies. Black’s trial and post-conviction proceedings have spanned nearly 30 years. In 2000, Black filed an unsuccessful federal habeas petition, claiming that his mental retardation precluded the imposition of the death penalty. After two remands, the Sixth Circuit affirmed. While the Supreme Court and the Tennessee courts have recently recognized limitations imposed by the Eighth Amendment on the power of states to execute mentally retarded persons, those developments do not give Black a reprieve from his death sentence. The court rejected Black’s claims that the district court erred in perceiving the remand to be a limited remand; erred in denying Black an evidentiary hearing; erred in failing to apply a summary-judgment standard in ruling on Black’s Atkins claim; and erred in its merits determination regarding relief under the Supreme Court’s "Atkins" standard. Black did not meet his burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he has significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning that manifested before Black turned 18.