United States District Court, D. Arizona
Steven P. Logan, United States District Judge
the Court is Petitioner Derek Don Chappell's Motion for
Temporary Stay and Abeyance and for Authorization to Appear
in Ancillary State-Court Litigation. (Doc. 94.) Chappell asks
the Court to stay and hold his case in abeyance while he
pursues state court relief. He also seeks permission for his
federal habeas counsel to appear on his behalf in state
court. Respondents filed a response opposing a stay and
Chappell filed a reply. (Docs. 95, 96.) For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is denied.
Maricopa County jury convicted Chappell of first degree
murder and child abuse and determined that he should be
sentenced to death. The following information concerning the
crimes is taken from the Arizona Supreme Court opinion
affirming the convictions and sentences. State v.
Chappell, 225 Ariz. 229, 233-34, 236 P.3d 1176, 1180-81
began dating Kristal Shackleford in the fall of 2003. They
soon were engaged to be married and Shackleford and her
two-year-old son, Devon, moved in with Chappell and his
December 10, 2003, Chappell was caring for Devon while
Shackleford was at work. While changing Devon's diaper,
Chappell forcefully pushed down on Devon's shoulders and
neck until his face turned red. Chappell immediately
contacted Shackleford, said he had “hurt Devon, ”
and asked her to come home right away. A pediatrician
examined Devon later that day and found bruising on his face
and neck consistent with choking. A Child Protective Services
(“CPS”) investigation ensued, and CPS told
Chappell he was to have no further contact with Devon.
Shackleford and Devon moved out of the Chappell home and into
a nearby apartment complex, but Chappell and Shackleford
March 11, 2004, Shackleford called 911 to report that Devon
was missing. Police officers found Devon floating in the
swimming pool at Shackleford's apartment complex. Devon
was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. An autopsy revealed
that the cause of death was drowning. Chappell quickly became
a suspect and ultimately confessed to the murder, both to the
police and at a press conference he held from jail. Chappell
admitted drowning Devon but claimed he was acting at
was indicted on charges of child abuse for the 2003 choking
incident and first degree murder, and was found guilty on
both counts. During the aggravation phase of the trial, the
jury found three aggravating circumstances: Chappell had a
previous conviction for a serious offense (child abuse),
A.R.S. § 13-751(F)(2); the murder was committed in an
especially cruel manner, § 13-751(F)(6); and Chappell
was an adult and the victim was under fifteen years of age at
the time of the murder, § 13-751(F)(9). After the
penalty phase, the jury determined that Chappell should be
sentenced to death.
unsuccessfully pursuing post-conviction relief, Chappell
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court.
(Doc. 25.) Respondents filed an answer and Chappell filed a
reply. (Docs. 33, 87.) Chappell's brief on evidentiary
development, previously due January 23, 2017, is now due on
March 9, 2017. (Doc. 99.) He filed the pending motion on
December 20, 2016. (Doc. 94.)
now seeks a stay so that he can return to state court and
present several claims. In asserting that state court
remedies remain, Chappell argues that Hurst v.
Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016), represents a significant
change in the law, under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure
32.1(g). He also contends that he can present evidence that
constitutes newly-discovered material facts under Arizona
Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(e). Finally, Chappell argues
that the new evidence demonstrates by clear and convincing
evidence that he would not have been found guilty or the
court would not have imposed the death penalty, under Arizona
Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(h).
habeas petition is governed by the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), 28
U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Although AEDPA does not deprive
courts of the authority to stay habeas corpus petitions, it
“does circumscribe their discretion.” Rhines
v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276 (2005). The Supreme Court
has emphasized that the stay and abeyance of federal habeas
petitions is available only in limited circumstances.
Id. at 277. “Staying a federal habeas petition
frustrates AEDPA's objective of encouraging finality by
allowing a petitioner to delay the resolution of the federal
proceedings. It also undermines AEDPA's goal of
streamlining federal habeas proceedings by decreasing a
petitioner's incentive to exhaust all his claims in state
court prior to filing his federal petition.”
of habeas corpus may not be granted unless it appears that a
petitioner has exhausted all available state court remedies.
28 U .S.C. § 2254(b)(1); see also Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991). In Arizona, there
are two avenues for petitioners to exhaust federal
constitutional claims: direct appeal and post-conviction
relief proceedings (“PCR”). Rule 32 of the
Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure governs PCR proceedings
and provides that a petitioner is precluded from relief on
any claim that could have been raised on appeal or in a prior
PCR petition. Ariz. R. Crim. P. 32.2(a)(3). The preclusive
effect of Rule 32.2(a) may be avoided only if a claim falls
within certain exceptions and the petitioner can justify why
the claim was omitted from a prior petition or not presented
in a timely manner. See Ariz. R. Crim. P.
32.1(d)-(h), 32.2(b), 32.4(a).
petitioner has an available remedy in state court that he has
not procedurally defaulted, it is appropriate for the federal
court to stay the habeas proceedings if (1) there was good
cause for the petitioner's failure to exhaust his claims
first in state court, (2) his unexhausted claims are
potentially meritorious, and (3) there is no ...