Benson v. Chappell, No. 13-99004 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's habeas corpus petition challenging his California conviction and death sentence for murder and other crimes. Petitioner raised two certified claims and two uncertified claims.
The panel held that petitioner failed to show that the California Supreme Court's denials of his claims were unreasonable determinations of the facts or contrary to clearly established federal law. In this case, the California Supreme Court reasonably determined that an officer's misstatement during petitioner's interrogation that there was no death penalty in California did not prompt petitioner's confessions. Furthermore, petitioner failed to show that his statements were not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Even if petitioner were able to show that trial counsel was ineffective in not fully investigating his abuse as a child or his alleged organic brain injury, the panel held that the state court could reasonably have determined that any shortcoming in trial counsel's investigation was not prejudicial. Finally, the panel granted a certificate of appealability on petitioner's two uncertified claims and held that the state court reasonably rejected the claims that his trial counsel should have impeached the government's case and the prosecutor withheld material, exculpatory evidence.