Smith v. Duckworth, No. 14-6201 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Michael Smith was charged with two counts of murder for the killings of Sarath Pulluru and Janet Moore. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his convictions on direct appeal and denied his two applications for postconviction relief. Smith sought a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court, arguing, as relevant here, that: (1) he was ineligible for the death penalty because he was intellectually disabled; (2) that the state trial court had erred in admitting Smith’s videotaped confession to the murders at trial; (3) that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance in the presentation of his mitigation case; and (4) that cumulative error rendered his trial unfair. The district court denied habeas relief, and Smith appealed. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Smith’s request for a certificate of appealability on these four issues, and affirmed the district court’s judgment. The Court found that Smith failed to demonstrate that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals’ rejection of his claims was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, and affirmed the district court’s denial of habeas relief.