Hansen v Sherrod

Hansen petitioned for habeas relief form his death sentence arguing ineffective assistance of counsel, insufficient aggravating circumstances and faulty jury instructions. The district court denied his petition and the panela affirmed. It held none of the alleged incidents of ineffective assistance warranted relief because the decision not to call a potentially exonerating witness was not deficient as the witness had a long history of lying and the substance of the testimony came in through the interviewing detective; that the failure to read the transcripts of a codefendant’s trial was not deficient as there was other exculpatory evidence available and there was no prejudice given Hansen committed several crimes with the codefendant using the murder weapons; there was no prejudice from failing to call additional mitigation witness as those witness would merely have made the same pints about Hansen as the mitigation witnesses made; there was no deficient performance in relying on the opinions of two respected experienced physiologists to not pursue mental illness as a mitigating factor; there was no prosecutorial misconduct and therefore no need to object; and, there is no requirement for a state to prove which crime Hansen was attempting to avoid prosecution when he murdered the victim here. The panel held there was no prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument at the second sentencing hearing as eth comments on the victim’s mental state were not prejudicial, served to make the jury aware of the circumstances of the case and the inferences about the victim’s mental state were available to the jury plus the trial court gave a curative instruction and the argument that death was the only option here was never made in Hansen’s case. The panel held there was no error as to retaining the death sentence even after eliminating one of the aggravating factors as the evidence in support of that factor also supported the properly found evasion of arrest factor. The panel held there was no reasonable likelihood the jury was constrained form considering all mitigating evidence given the instructions as a whole and the prosecution’s argument for the jury to consider all the offered mitigation evidence. The panel finally held that as there was at most one possible error, there cannot be reversible cumulative error which requires at least two errors before analysis of cumulative affect can occur.