Presnell v. Warden, No. 17-14322 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 to petitioner, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping, forcible rape, and malice murder of two little girls. At issue was whether the lawyers who represented petitioner at the 1999 retrial deprived him of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel in failing to attain and present mitigation evidence.
The court held that, on this record, it would be hard put to say that the district court erred in rejecting petitioner's Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder claim. Furthermore, petitioner failed to demonstrate that defense counsel's conduct in connection with the retrial of the penalty phase fell below Strickland v. Washington's performance standard. As for its prejudice standard, the court held that a retrial of the penalty phase would result in the same verdict, a death sentence.