The defense argument (based on the defendant’s story) is that he fired his gun (murdering his friend) because he thought there were ninja outside the window.

STEPHEN MICHAEL GAULTNEY, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID BALLARD, Warden, Mount Olive Correctional Complex, Respondent.

CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:09-1221

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA, BLUEFIELD DIVISION

Decided August 8, 2012 by opinion of United States Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort:

Around 2:00 a.m. on September 16, 2002, Petitioner called Justin Workman to see if he wanted to “get high.” Petitioner admits that on the morning of September 16, 2002, he and Mr. Workman were smoking, drinking, and injecting controlled substances. Petitioner claims that he saw ninjas or unidentified police officers peering into his second floor apartment windows. Petitioner retrieved two pistols and threw one to Mr. Workman. Petitioner states that Mr. Workman jumped down from the kitchen sink counter yelling that “they were coming in.” Petitioner contends that when he turned he saw a shadow, fired his pistol, and killed Mr. Workman.

and

Dr. David Clayman testified that he works for Highland Behavioral Health as a clinical and forensic psychologist. (Respondent’s Exhibit No. 21, p. 6.) Dr. Clayman stated that he evaluated Petitioner on July 22, 2003. (Id., pp. 10 – 11.) Dr. Clayman testified that Petitioner’s “statements to us were fairly consistent with that given in the police reports” and “devoid of significant psychological disorder.” (Id., p. 13.) Dr. Clayman stated that in his opinion Petitioner genuinely believed there were Ninjas in and around his residence. (Id., p. 14.) In his report, Dr. Clayman wrote that “his discussion with the police on the day prior to the shooting does suggest that he was living under the idea that he was truly being threatened, and the use of drugs exacerbated and distorted his unrealistic perception.” (Id., p. 17.) Dr. Clayman testified that Petitioner’s belief system supported that he made a distinction between legitimate cops and intruders that he needed to defend himself against. (Id., pp. 18 – 19.) Dr. Clayman stated that Petitioner had a high level of paranoia. (Id., p. 19.) Dr. Clayman explained that a person’s sense of paranoia can be heighten by the act of friends agreeing that they hear or see things that do not exist in reality. (Id.) Dr. Clayman stated that he did not find anything during his evaluation to support a conclusion that Petitioner had some sort of hatred for Mr. Workman or police officers. (Id., p. 22.) Dr. Clayman testified that Petitioner told him “he felt he wasn’t going to survive that night” and “that he felt threatened by the Kevlar police. I’m going to call them that.” (Id., pp. 22 – 23.) Dr. Clayman stated that in his opinion Petitioner discharged his firearm because “he believed he was in danger and that that’s why he was firing.” (Id., p. 40.) Dr. Clayman acknowledged that Petitioner merely indicated that the intruders were coming in the house after him and the threat Petitioner felt could have been the fact he did not want to be arrested for drugs. (Id., p. 43.) Although Dr. Clayman stated that Petitioner did not premeditate to kill Justin, Dr. Clayman acknowledged that Petitioner had the capacity to premeditate to shoot someone. (Id., p. 45.) Dr. Clayman explained that Petitioner appeared to be able to make a distinction between the “regular police” and the “delusional police.” (Id., p. 24.) Dr. Clayman acknowledged that Petitioner felt like the police were outside watching or stalking him because the police knew he was engaging in drug activity. (Id., p. 26.) Although Petitioner informed Dr. Clayman that intruders “looked like Ninjas because they were wearing Kevlar” and “I had shot the shit out of them and didn’t hurt them,” Petitioner specifically stated that the intruders never shot at him. (Id., pp. 27, 31, and 43.) Dr. Clayman stated that Petitioner described the people around his apartment as follows: “He saw two of them coming up the alley. He could see badges and heard them say, ‘Cockle doodle do, the early bird gets the worm.'” (Id., p. 29.) Dr. Clayman testified that he believed Petitioner had a personality disorder: antisocial with paranoid traits. (Id., p. 32.) Specifically, Dr. Clayman explained as follows: “He has shown throughout his life he has had a careless disregard for the law. He has had this paranoid trend.” (Id., p. 33.)

And quote from the State court:

Additionally, in this case, and perhaps most pertinent for these purposes, former trial counsel, Elizabeth French, Esq. testified at the Omnibus hearing that the strategy/theory of their case was to actually present the Petitioner’s version of events from his delusional perspective at the time of the crimes, hoping that the jury would understand his mindset, to wit: that several men dressed in black, presumably police officers operating outside the law, Ninjas, or phantoms were invading his home by coming through his windows in swarms, and that he honestly believed that he was protecting himself by firing the several shots fired. Ms. French testified that the Petitioner was so adamant about the incident being “self defense” that he disagreed with presenting the jury with a diminished capacity defense.

but finds

that trial counsel did not act unreasonably in presenting testimony from Dr. Smith and Dr. Clayman. Again, trial counsel was proceeding on the theory that Petitioner accidentally shot Mr. Workman because he felt threatened based on his hallucination that intruders were entering his apartment. Trial counsel presented the testimony of Dr. Smith and Dr. Clayman in an attempt to support this defense. Dr. Smith testified that at the time of the shooting, Petitioner “was certainly operating under a strong mental aberration.” (Respondent’s Exhibit No. 21, p. 61.) Dr. Clayman testified that in his opinion Petitioner genuinely believed there were Ninjas or Kevlar police in and around his residence. (Id., p. 14.)

Therefore there is no ineffective assistance of counsel and the Magistrate Judge

RECOMMENDS that the District Court GRANT Respondent’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 58.), DISMISS Petitioner’s Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus

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