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Denial of Petition in Capital Murder Matter Affirmed

By FindLaw Staff on July 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Rhoades v. Henry, No. 07-99023, a capital habeas matter, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of petitioner's petition, on the grounds that 1) the difference between what petitioner's counsel investigated and presented, and what they could have investigated and presented, is not so pronounced that the new evidence would have outweighed any one of the aggravating circumstances; 2) alleged violations of state law were not cognizable on federal habeas review; and 3) so long as any single aggravating factor found in the penalty phase was supported, alleged constitutional infirmities as to remaining ones were harmless.

As the court wrote:  "Paul Ezra Rhoades was convicted by an Idaho jury of the 1987 first degree murder, first degree kidnapping, robbery, rape, and infamous crime against nature of Susan Michelbacher. The trial court sentenced him to death on his convictions for first degree murder and first degree kidnapping; and the Idaho Supreme Court upheld his conviction, sentence, and denial of post-conviction relief. State v. Rhoades (Michelbacher), 822 P.2d 960 (Idaho 1991). The district court denied his petition for habeas corpus. Rhoades appealed, and we previously affirmed denial of relief on the conviction, Rhoades v. Henry (Michelbacher), 598 F.3d 495 (9th Cir. 2010). However, because a post-conviction petition asking the Idaho
Supreme Court to apply Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), retroactively was then pending before the Idaho Supreme Court, we deferred submission on penalty phase issues. That court has now ruled, upholding the sentence. Rhoades v. State, ___ P.3d ___, 2010 WL 937272 (Idaho Mar. 17, 2010), reh'g denied (June 4, 2010). Accordingly, we now turn to the issues on which Rhoades seeks to overturn the district court's judgment that his sentence was not constitutionally infirm. We see no error, and affirm."

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