Postelle v. Carpenter, No. 16-6290 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
An Oklahoma jury convicted and sentenced Gilbert Postelle to death in connection with the brutal killings of four people: over a holiday weekend in 2005, Postelle and two other assailants attacked Donnie Swindle at his home, murdering him and three acquaintances. The raid apparently sprang from the Postelle family’s grudge against Swindle alone. After an unsuccessful appeal and collateral action in state court, Postelle sought federal habeas corpus relief. He alleged the state prosecution violated several of his constitutional rights, including his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. Postelle raises three issues: (1) whether he received constitutionally adequate trial counsel; (2) whether he received constitutionally adequate appellate counsel; and (3) whether the unconstitutional presentation of victim-impact evidence at trial prejudiced his defense. He also asked the Tenth Circuit to expand the scope of its review to include several new issues for which he has yet to receive a Certificate of Appealability. Finding no cause to reverse denial of the writ, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court and declined to extend the scope of its review.