Argued: May 10, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of North Carolina, at Greensboro. Catherine C. Eagles,
District Judge. (1:05-cv-00260-CCE-JEP)
Kristin Davis Parks, LAW OFFICE OF KRISTIN PARKS, Chapel
Hill, North Carolina, for Appellant.
D. Mekeel, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Raleigh,
North Carolina, for Appellee.
Jonathan E. Broun, Elizabeth G. Simpson, NORTH CAROLINA
PRISONER LEGAL SERVICES, INC., Raleigh, North Carolina, for
H. Stein, Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
NORTH CAROLINA, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.
NIEMEYER, KEENAN, and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.
HARRIS, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Carolina jury convicted Lesley Eugene Warren of the
first-degree murder of Katherine Johnson. The government
sought the death penalty, and at the sentencing phase it
introduced evidence that Warren recently had been convicted
of murdering two other women. Because of the death sentence
he received for one of those convictions, Warren could not be
paroled if sentenced to life for the murder of Johnson, and
asked the trial court to so instruct the jury. The court
declined to give the instruction, and the jury sentenced
Warren to death.
Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994), a
defendant is entitled to inform the jury when the alternative
to a death sentence is life in prison without parole, but
only if the prosecutor puts at issue the risk that he will be
a danger to society if released from prison. The Supreme
Court of North Carolina rejected Warren's
Simmons claim, holding that the prosecutor in his
case had not argued future dangerousness in support of the
death penalty, and the district court denied Warren's
petition for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Because the
Supreme Court of North Carolina reasonably applied
Simmons to Warren's sentencing, we affirm.