Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carter v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

November 10, 2016

SANDERS M. CARTER APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         PRO SE SECOND PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS [PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO. 60CR-87-63]

         PETITION DENIED.

          PER CURIAM.

         In 1987, petitioner Sanders M. Carter was convicted by a jury of rape, aggravated robbery, and burglary. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to consecutive terms of imprisonment of life for rape and an aggregate sentence of forty years' imprisonment for the other offenses. We affirmed. Carter v. State, 295 Ark. 218, 748 S.W.2d 127 (1988).

         Subsequently, Carter filed in this court a pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (1987). The petition was denied. Carter v. State, CR-87-209 (Ark. Oct. 16, 1989) (unpublished per curiam). In 1990, appellant filed in the trial court a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus that was denied. On appeal from the order, this court concluded that the allegations raised in the petition were cognizable under Rule 37.1 and did not state a ground to issue the writ. The appeal was dismissed. Carter v. State, CR-90-187 (Ark. Nov. 5, 1990) (unpublished per curiam). Carter then filed in the trial court a petition for scientific testing of evidence pursuant to Act 1780 of 2001 Acts of Arkansas, codified at Arkansas Code Annotated sections 16-112-201 to 207 (Supp. 2003), based on a claim that the chain of custody of certain evidence was not broken and could be used in his defense. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-112-202(b). After a hearing at which Carter was represented by counsel, the trial court denied the petition, and we affirmed. Carter v. State, CR-03-148 (Ark. Feb. 19, 2004) (unpublished per curiam). Next, in 2005, Carter filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court in the county in which he was incarcerated. The petition was denied, and we affirmed the order. Carter v. Norris, 367 Ark. 360, 240 S.W.3d 124 (2006) (per curiam).

         In 2008, Carter filed another pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court pursuant to Act 1780. The trial court held that Carter had already sought scientific testing of evidence collected at the crime scene and that he had not established that he was entitled pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-112-205(d) to file a subsequent petition for scientific testing. The petition was denied, and we affirmed the order. Carter v. State, 2010 Ark. 29 (per curiam).

         In 2011, Carter filed in this court a pro se petition in the case to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The petition for leave to proceed in the trial court was necessary because the trial court can entertain a petition for writ of error coram nobis after a judgment has been affirmed on appeal only after we grant permission. Newman v. State, 2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. A writ of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy. State v. Larimore, 341 Ark. 397, 17 S.W.3d 87 (2000). Coram-nobis proceedings are attended by a strong presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid. Id. The function of the writ is to secure relief from a judgment rendered while there existed some fact that would have prevented its rendition if it had been known to the trial court and which, through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was not brought forward before rendition of the judgment. Newman, 2009 Ark. 539, 354 S.W.3d 61. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record. Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, 425 S.W.3d 771.

         The writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental nature. Id. A writ of error coram nobis is available for addressing certain errors that are found in one of four categories: (1) insanity at the time of trial, (2) a coerced guilty plea, (3) material evidence withheld by the prosecutor, or (4) a third-party confession to the crime during the time between conviction and appeal. Howard v. State, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38.

         In the 2011 petition, Carter asserted a violation of the requirements of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). A Brady violation is established when material evidence favorable to the defense is wrongfully withheld by the State. Pitts v. State, 336 Ark. 580, 986 S.W.2d 407 (1999) (per curiam). In Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263 (1999), the Supreme Court revisited Brady and declared that when the petitioner contends that material evidence was not disclosed to the defense, the petitioner must show that "there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickler, 527 U.S. at 280 (quoting United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682 (1985)).

         In Strickler, the Court also set out the three elements of a true Brady violation: (1) the evidence at issue must be favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory, or because it is impeaching; (2) the evidence must have been suppressed by the State, either willfully or inadvertently; and (3) prejudice must have ensued. Strickler, 527 U.S. 263; see Howard, 2012 Ark. 177, 403 S.W.3d 38. Impeachment evidence that is material, as well as exculpatory evidence, falls within the Brady rule. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667.

         The Brady violation alleged by Carter in the 2011 petition was that the State withheld evidence from the defense, but, as we noted in the opinion denying the petition, the documents and testimony that he pointed to as having been withheld did not exist at the time of trial. The petition was denied. Carter v. State, 2011 Ark. 481 (per curiam).

         Now before us is Carter's second petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court in the case to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis. Carter asserts in the second petition that he learned during the 2015 Act 1780 proceeding in the trial court that there were thirty-four "negroid" hairs recovered from the rape victim's pink bedsheet. He contends that at his trial in 1987 only one pubic hair and eight hair fragments had been forensically tested and that the existence of the thirty-four hairs had been concealed from the defense. He argues that he would not have been found guilty had the thirty-four hairs been tested at the time of trial because the hair examiner would have had a larger pool of evidence to test.

         We do not find that Carter has proven a Brady violation because Carter has not demonstrated with facts that there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different had the hair examiner had a larger pool of hair samples to examine. At most, Carter has suggested that more hair would have given the examiner more to compare; he does not contend that more hair would necessarily have ruled him out as the perpetrator. Moreover, even if it could be said that not all of the hairs taken into evidence were forensically examined at the time of trial, Carter has not shown that there is a reasonable probability based on the evidence adduced at trial that the outcome of the trial would have been different if the hair examiner who testified at trial had a greater number of hairs to test.

         There was evidence adduced at Carter's trial that in November 1986 a man entered the victim's home through a kitchen window off a deck. He threatened to kill the victim with a knife, searched her purse for money, raped her, beat her repeatedly, and threatened that, if she called the police, he would come back at a later time and cut her throat. The assault lasted forty to forty-five minutes. In spite of his threat, the victim called the police and gave a description of the perpetrator. One night in January 1987, the victim heard someone on the deck and saw a man pass by the window. She called the police, and Carter was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.