Andrew Richard Lukehart v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, et al, No. 21-10099 (11th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Petitioner was sentenced to death by a Florida court for the murder of a five-month-old baby. After an unsuccessful direct appeal and two rounds of state collateral proceedings, he sought habeas corpus relief in federal court. In this appeal from the denial of his federal petition, the Eleventh Circuit considered Petitioner’s claims that the state trial court violated his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment when it admitted his confessions and other statements he made to the police into evidence at his trial, and that his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance at the penalty phase in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial. The court explained that the state court’s admission of his statements at trial did not violate Petitioner’s constitutional rights because he made those statements either spontaneously or after reinitiating discussions with police and knowingly and voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights. Further, a strategic decision not to call a witness whose testimony is not entirely problem-free and to focus instead on other available mitigating evidence does not amount to a deprivation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and the state court’s decision to that effect was not objectively unreasonable.