Purkey v. United States, No. 19-3318 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 1998, Long, age 16, got into Purkey’s truck. Purkey, 46, threatened her with a knife and drove her across the state line to his home, where he raped her and ultimately killed her. Purkey dismembered Long’s body and burned the pieces. He dumped the remains into a septic lagoon. Later in 1998, he killed 80-year-old Bales. He was caught. While awaiting trial, Purkey contacted Detective Howard about Long and insisted that an FBI agent come along because he thought that if he were convicted on federal charges, he could serve a life sentence in a federal facility. Purkey confessed to killing Long, took them to the crime scene, and gave handwritten confessions. Howard and Tarpley denied that any deal was on the table. After Purkey pleaded guilty to the Bales murder, he was indicted for Long's kidnapping, rape, and murder. Purkey had repeatedly confessed to kidnapping Long; his defense was that he thought she was a prostitute who willingly accompanied him and that he had fabricated the kidnapping claim to be prosecuted in federal court. Defense counsel did not object to the use of his confessions to refute that story. A jury voted for a death sentence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief, rejecting claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and several alleged violations of his due process rights--government misconduct during the trial, insufficient evidence to find kidnapping beyond a reasonable doubt, and error in the jury’s failure to address the question of mitigating evidence.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 13, 2020.