Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Terrell: Counsel for Georgia death row inmate not ineffective

In Terrell v. GDCP Warden, No. 11-13660 (March 11, 2014), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Georgia death row inmate convicted of a 1992 murder. The Court rejected the argument that Terrell suffered prejudice as a result of his lawyer’s decision not to obtain a forensic pathologist, who would have testified that the victim was already dead when subjected to mutilation. The Court found that this evidence would have supported the prosecution’s view that the murder was done with malice and anger. The Court also found no ineffective assistance in his lawyer’s failure to challenge an armed robbery aggravating factor. Terrell’s lawyer focused on a residual doubt theory, rather than rebutting the State’s theory regarding armed robbery. The Court found that this choice did not change the outcome of the sentencing.