United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MICHAEL ST. CLAIR, Plaintiff,
MATT G. BEVIN, et al. Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant James Erwin's
Motion for Screening and Extension of Time, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. [R. 4.] Under § 1915A, a Court is
required to screen a complaint when a prisoner seeks redress
from a governmental entity or officer. Defendant Michael St.
Clair does not oppose the screening, but maintains that his
claims are not frivolous and should not be dismissed. [R. 5.]
The Court has screened Mr. St. Clair's Complaint and
finds he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. For the following reasons, Mr. St. Clair's
claims are dismissed.
Clair previously filed a similar action in this Court, but
the former action was dismissed as premature. St. Clair
v. Thompson, No. 3:14-CV-00056-GFVT, 2015 WL 1526118
(E.D. KY. Apr. 3, 2015). He explains, in September 1991, in
Oklahoma, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree
murder and one count of solicitation to first-degree murder,
and on these convictions, he received two sentences of life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole and one
additional life sentence. [R. 1 at ¶6.] In January 1994,
also in Oklahoma, he was convicted of two additional counts
of murder and received two additional life without parole
sentences. Id. at ¶7. In Oklahoma alone, he has
received four different life without parole sentences.
October 1991, while in prison in Oklahoma awaiting sentencing
for his 1991 conviction, Mr. St. Clair escaped from prison,
fleeing to Hardin County, Kentucky. St. Clair v.
Thompson, at *1. Upon arrival, he and Dennis Gene Reese
(“Reese”) kidnapped Frances Brady (also known as
Frank Brady) and stole his pickup truck. Id. They
transported Mr. Brady to Bullitt County, where they murdered
him. Id. Subsequently, Mr. St. Clair and Mr. Reese
parted ways before they were arrested separately.
Id. Due to the kidnapping of Mr. Brady in Hardin
County, Kentucky, and his subsequent murder in Bullitt
County, Kentucky, criminal charges were filed against Mr. St.
Clair in Hardin Circuit Court relative to the kidnapping of
Mr. Brady and in Bullitt Circuit Court relative to Mr.
Brady's murder. Id.
December 20, 1991, Mr. 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 him for the capital kidnapping of
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. Mr. St. Clair was convicted in February of 2001 of
the capital kidnapping of Mr. Brady, and he was sentenced to
death. He 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 kidnapping case went to
trial again in 2009, but it was prematurely terminated due to
a mistrial. Before the case could be tried again, Mr. 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.
Hardin County case went to trial a third time in 2012. The
jury in the third trial found Mr. 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 second-degree arson. In the sentencing phase,
the jury recommended Mr. St. Clair be sentenced to death for
the kidnapping, as well as 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 (35) years. The
trial court sentenced him in accordance with the jury's
Clair appealed his conviction and sentence 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,
455 S.W.3d 869 (Ky. 2015). On April 12, 2017, Mr.
St. Clair pleaded guilty to the Hardin County charges in
exchange for a total sentence of thirty years in prison. [R.
1 at 4.] The Hardin Circuit Court entered a judgement
consistent with this deal on June 15, 2017. Id.
in February 1992, Mr. St. Clair and Mr. Reese were jointly
indicted in Bullitt Circuit Court, Bullitt County, Kentucky,
for the murder of Mr. Brady. See Commonwealth of Kentucky
v. Michael St. Clair, No. 92-CR-010. Mr. Reese entered a
guilty plea in Bullitt Circuit Court and agreed to testify
for the Commonwealth. Mr. St. Clair pleaded not guilty and
proceeded to trial. In 1998, Mr. St. Clair was convicted of
Mr. 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 instructed on life without the possibility
of parole as a sentencing alternative. St. Clair v.
Commonwealth, 140 S.W.3d 510 (Ky. 2004) (hereinafter
St. Clair I Bullitt).
September 2005, Mr. St. Clair was again sentenced to death.
In April 2010, the Kentucky Supreme Court again reversed that
sentence and remanded for a new sentencing phase because of
inadequate jury instructions. See St. Clair v.
Commonwealth, 319 S.W.3d 300, 306-08 (Ky. 2010)
(hereinafter St. Clair II Bullitt). Subsequently, in
July 2010, Mr. St. Clair moved for a new trial, claiming
comparative bullet lead analysis (CBLA) evidence, which had
been used in the guilt phase of his 1998 trial, had recently
been determined unreliable and thus inadmissible. The Bullitt
Circuit Court denied the motion in January 2011. Initially,
he sought interlocutory relief at the Kentucky Court of
Appeals, but voluntarily dismissed the action because it
could be consolidated with the appeal of the sentence.
October 2011, the Bullitt Circuit Court sentenced Mr. St.
Clair to death. He appealed both the denial of his motion for
a new trial and his death sentence to the Kentucky Supreme
Court, raising thirty-two (32) claims. St. Clair v.
Commonwealth of Kentucky, No. 2011-SC- 000774-MR. On
August 21, 2014, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed his
conviction for murder and his death sentence. St. Clair
v. Commonwealth, ...