Smith v. Sharp, No. 17-6184 (10th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Roderick Smith was sentenced to death by an Oklahoma state jury for the 1993 murders of his wife and four stepchildren. In the pendency of his case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), prohibiting the execution of the intellectually disabled. Smith filed a successor application in state court for postconviction relief pursuant to Atkins, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (“OCCA”) remanded the case to the Oklahoma County District Court for a jury trial to determine whether Smith was intellectually disabled. At the subsequent jury trial in 2004 (the “Atkins trial”), the jury found Smith was not intellectually disabled and allowed his execution to move forward. But the Tenth Circuit then granted relief on Smith’s previously filed habeas corpus petition in Smith v. Mullin, 379 F.3d 919 (10th Cir. 2004), entitling him to resentencing. A jury found Smith competent to stand trial in 2009, and he was resentenced to death in 2010. Smith again sought federal habeas relief. The district court denied relief in an unpublished opinion. On appeal again to the Tenth Circuit, Smith argued multiple violations of his constitutional rights following the Atkins resentencing trials. With respect to the district court’s denial of habeas relief on Smith’s Atkins challenge to the constitutionality of his execution, the Tenth Circuit granted relief and did not address Smith’s remaining claims concerning his Atkins proceeding. The Court otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of Smith’s 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The case was remanded with instructions to grant a conditional writ vacating Smith’s death sentence and remanding to the State for a new penalty-phase proceeding.