United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
MICHAEL DALE ST. CLAIR, Plaintiff,
LaDONNA THOMPSON, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Corrections, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Michael Dale St. Clair is a death row inmate in the custody of the Kentucky Department of Corrections and is currently confined in the Kentucky State Penitentiary located in Eddyville, Kentucky. Proceeding pro se, St. Clair has filed a declaratory action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 2201, concerning the detainer lodged against him by the State of Oklahoma. [R. 1]. St. Clair has paid the $400.00 filing fee. [R. 4].
Because St. Clair seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, the Court is required, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, to screen his complaint. This statute requires a district court to dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from defendants who are immune from such relief. Id.; see also McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-8 (6th Cir. 1997). Having screened the Complaint, for the reasons set forth below, St. Clair's Complaint will be dismissed because it is premature.
St. Clair states that in 1991 in Murray County, Oklahoma, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of solicitation to first-degree murder and that on these convictions, he received two sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole ("LWOP") and one life sentence. St. Clair also states that in January 1994 in Choctaw County, Oklahoma, he was convicted of two counts of murder and received two LWOP sentences. [R. 1: Complaint, ¶¶ 16, 17]. Based solely on his convictions in Oklahoma, it appears that St. Clair has received four different LWOP sentences in Oklahoma.
In 1991, while St. Clair was in prison in Oklahoma awaiting sentencing for his conviction in 1991 for two murders in Oklahoma, he escaped from prison and ultimately came to Hardin County, Kentucky in October of 1991. While there, St. Clair and Dennis Gene Reese ("Reese") kidnaped Frances Brady (also known as Frank Brady) and stole his pickup truck. They transported Brady to Bullitt County, where they murdered him. Subsequently, St. Clair and Reese parted ways and were later arrested separately. Due to the kidnaping of Brady in Hardin County, Kentucky, and his subsequent murder in Bullitt County, Kentucky, criminal charges were filed against St. Clair in Hardin Circuit Court relative to the kidnaping of Brady and in Bullitt Circuit Court relative to Brady's murder.
On December 20, 1991, St. Clair was indicted in Hardin Circuit Court for two counts of receiving stolen property, criminal attempt to commit murder, and second-degree arson. See Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael St. Clair, No. 91-CR-00207. Later, on January 17, 1992, the Hardin County Grand Jury indicted St. Clair for the capital kidnaping of Frank Brady. See Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael St. Clair, No. 92-CR-00002. On June 19, 1998, the Commonwealth filed its Notice of Intent to Seek Death Penalty. St. Clair was convicted in February of 2001 of the Capital Kidnaping of Frank Brady, and he was sentenced to death.
St. Clair appealed his conviction to the Kentucky Supreme Court. On October 20, 2005, the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed his conviction and remanded for a new trial. St. Clair v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 174 S.W.3d 474 (Ky. 2005). On remand, the Hardin County kidnaping case went to trial again in 2009, but it was prematurely terminated due to a mistrial. Before the case could be tried again, St. Clair petitioned the Kentucky Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition barring his retrial, arguing that retrial would violate both the Interstate Agreement on Detainers and his federal and state constitutional rights to a speedy trial. St. Clair v. Coleman, No. 2007-SC-000901, 2008 WL 2484715 (Ky. June 19, 2008) (unpublished opinion). However, the Supreme Court denied St. Clair's petition. Id.
The Hardin County case went to trial a third time in 2012. By that time, his case had been assigned to a new Circuit Judge. The evidence in this trial was largely the same as it had been in the first trial, except that the trial court admitted evidence of St. Clair's other crimes and bad acts, specifically the killing of Timothy Keeling, that had previously been excluded.
The jury in the third trial found St. Clair guilty of all counts, except for the arson charge, for which he was convicted of the lesser-included offense of criminal facilitation of seconddegree arson. In the sentencing phase, the jury found all three aggravating circumstances listed in the instructions, viz., that the kidnaping victim was not released alive, that St. Clair had a prior record of conviction for a capital offense, and that the kidnaping was committed during a robbery. The jury recommended that St. Clair be sentenced to death for the kidnaping. The jury also recommended sentences of twenty years in prison for attempted murder of the Kentucky State Trooper, five years for each count of receiving stolen property, and five years for facilitation of arson, all to be served consecutively for a total of thirty-five years. The trial court sentenced St. Clair in accordance with the jury's recommendation.
St. Clair appealed his conviction and sentence as a matter of right to the Kentucky Supreme Court. St. Clair v. Commonwealth of Kentucky , No. 2012-SC-000130-MR. St. Clair raised thirty-five (35) claims in this appeal. On February 19, 2015, the Supreme Court reversed his convictions, addressing only those claims necessary to its decision, and remanded for a new trial. St. Clair v. Commonwealth of Kentucky , ___ S.W.3d ___, 2015 WL 737567 (Ky. 2015). This decision became final on March 12, 2015. Id. Thus, St. Clair is presently awaiting the scheduling of his fourth trial on the charges in the Hardin County case.
In February 1992, St. Clair and Reese were jointly indicted in Bullitt Circuit Court, Bullitt County, Kentucky, for Brady's murder. See Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael St. Clair, No. 92-CR-010. Reese pleaded guilty in Bullitt Circuit Court for Brady's murder and agreed to testify for the Commonwealth. St. Clair pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial, but his trial did not occur until 1998. St. Clair was convicted of Brady's murder and received a death sentence, in accordance with the jury's recommendation. On direct appeal, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the conviction but remanded for a new capital sentencing phase trial because the jury was not ...