Executed September 10, 2014 6:35 p.m. CST by Lethal Injection in Texas
29th murderer executed in U.S. in 2014
1388th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
8th murderer executed in Texas in 2014
516th murderer executed in Texas since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Willie Tyrone Trottie
B / M / 23 - 45
|Barbara Nell Canada
B / F / 24
Titus C. Canada
B / M / 29
Ex parte Trottie, Not Reported in S.W.3d (Tex. Crim. App. 2009). (State Habeas)
Trottie v. Stephens, --- Fed.Appx. ---- (5th Cir. 2014). (Federal Habeas)
Texas no longer offers a special "last meal" to condemned inmates. Instead, the inmate is offered the same meal served to the rest of the unit: Baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, bread, and a choice of tea, punch, or water.
"I love you all. I'm going home, going to be with the Lord. Find it in your hearts to forgive me. I'm sorry."
Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders
Willie Tyrone Trottie
TDCJ: Number 999085
Date of Birth: 09-08-1969
Date Received: 12-15-1993
Age (when Received): 24
Education Level (Highest Grade Completed): 09
Date of Offense: 01/22/2001
Age (at the time of Offense): 23
County of Offense: Harris
Hair Color: Black
Height: 5' 5"
Weight: 147 lb
Eye Color: Brown
Native County: Harris
Prior Occupation: deliveryman
Prior Prison Record: None. Received a deferred adjudication after being convicted of theft in September 1990 and sentencxed to 5 years in prison.
Summary of Incident: Convicted in the murders of Barbara Nell Canada, 24, and her brother Titus C. Canada, 29. Both were victims of a shooting rampage that also left her mother and sister wounded. Trottie and Barbara Canada were lovers prior to her breakup in September 1992. Trottie, who had a protective order against him, threatened to kill Canada if she did not return to him by May 1, 1993. Two days later he kicked in the door to where Canada was staying with her mother and other family members and started shooting her with his .9 mm pistol. Titus Canada grabbed his own pistol and began firing at Trottie, hitting him before being wounded himself. Trottie then found Barbara in the rear bedroom and shot her 6 more times in front of 7 children. He then returned to the living room and shot Titus execution style in the backof the head. He was arrested after driving himself to the hospital in Barbara Canada's car.
Texas Attorney General
Friday, September 5, 2014
Media Advisory: Willie Tyrone Trottie scheduled for execution
AUSTIN – Pursuant to a court order by the 262nd Judicial District Court of Harris County, Willie Tyrone Trottie is scheduled for execution after 6 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2014. In 1993, a Harris County jury found Trottie guilty of capital murder for the murders of Barbara and Titus Canada pursuant to a planned home invasion.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
he United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit described the murders of Barbara and Titus Canada as follows: Trottie and Barbara Canada met and began dating in about 1989. Shortly thereafter, the two moved in together and had a child. In September 1992, the couple separated and Barbara moved in with her family. Trottie’s behavior towards Barbara became increasingly violent following their 1992 separation. According to state witnesses that testified at Trottie’s trial, Trottie warned Barbara that he would kill her if she did not return to him and repeated the threat several times in the months after she moved out. Barbara’s close friend testified that Trottie called Barbara “constantly” at home and at work, begging her to come back to him. Trottie hit Barbara, bumped Barbara’s car with his own while it was traveling at sixty to sixty-five miles per hour, and once kidnapped her, releasing her only after she promised to reunite with him.
Barbara obtained a protective order against Trottie in March 1993. Nevertheless, state witnesses testified that Trottie telephoned Barbara in April and told her that she had until May 1, 1993 to return to him, or else he would kill her. On May 3, 1993, Trottie called Barbara again and told her that “he wasn't going to wait around anymore” and again threatened to kill her. One witness testified that Trottie also threatened Barbara’s brother Titus Canada because, according to Trottie, he had gotten “in the way.”
Trottie arrived at the Canada residence at approximately 11 p.m. on the night of May 3, 1993, armed with a semiautomatic 9mm pistol. At the time, there were five children under the age of seven in the house, along with numerous other family members. According to state witnesses, Trottie opened fire immediately, wounding Barbara’s mother, sister, and brother. Barbara’s brother returned fire with a .380 caliber pistol and shot Trottie numerous times. Though wounded, Trottie cornered Barbara in a bedroom and, while she lay on the ground, shot her eleven times. Trottie then returned to the area where Barbara’s brother was lying wounded and, in the view of at least two small children, fired two shots into the back of Barbara’s brother’s head, killing him. Trottie left the Canada home and was arrested a short time later in the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
On May 3, 1993, Trottie was indicted in the 262nd Judicial District Court of Harris County for the capital offense of murdering Barbara and Titus Canada during the same criminal transaction. After Trottie pleaded not guilty, a jury found him guilty of the capital offense. Following a separate punishment hearing, the court assessed Trottie’s punishment at death.
On Sept. 20, 1995, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Trottie’s conviction and sentence in an unpublished opinion.
On Aug. 18, 1997, Trottie filed a state application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court.
On July 10, 2008, the trial court submitted findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that Trottie be denied relief.
On Feb. 11, 2009, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court’s findings and conclusions and denied Trottie habeas relief.
On March 4, 2010, Trottie filed a federal habeas petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
On Sept. 30, 2011, the federal district court denied Trottie’s petition, and denied him permission to appeal.
Trottie sought permission to appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On June 14, 2013, the Fifth Circuit denied Trottie’s request.
On Nov. 13, 2013, Trottie filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court denied certiorari review on March 24, 2014.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial – which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment.
The State presented the following evidence of Trottie’s future dangerousness. Jesse Doyle, a teacher and principal at Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana, testified that he recommended Trottie’s expulsion from school in March 1987. That summer, Trottie stole $3000 of band equipment and other items from the school. Trottie entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge, and punishment was assessed at six months of probation.
The State also elicited testimony regarding Trottie’s three prior convictions in Harris County. In December 1988, Trottie was arrested at a grocery store for carrying a loaded .38 revolver. Trottie pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense of carrying a weapon and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, probated for a period of one year. In July 1990, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped Trottie for speeding and observed a loaded .45 caliber revolver under Trottie’s car seat. Trottie pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense of carrying a weapon and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. In September 1990, the service manager at a Houston car dealership where Trottie worked discovered that Trottie had a stolen car on dealership property. Trottie told the manager that he intended to have the engine removed from the stolen car and placed in a similar car. Police arrested Trottie in the dealership, and Trottie pleaded guilty to the felony offense of theft by receiving. Punishment was assessed at five years deferred adjudication probation.
Lynn Clark was Trottie’s probation officer from Sept. 24, 1990, until Feb. 25, 1993, when Trottie quit reporting. Clark described Trottie as a hard worker and good probationer, but Trottie was very upset over the breakup with Barbara and implied that he might kill her. As a result, Clark took the unusual step of calling Barbara and advising her to obtain a protective order, which is something she generally did not do in her probationers’ cases. Trottie also told Clark that he was involved in a March 1990 shooting where he wounded an individual after that individual fired at him.
In October 1992, Trottie and a cousin went to Barbara’s house to visit Trottie’s child. Trottie told Barbara that he just wanted to talk to her, but then he grabbed Barbara by the neck, threw her on the couch, and choked her. After he was forced to leave the house, Trottie shot out the tires on Barbara’s car. Frederick Rusk testified that Trottie once pulled a gun on him in front of Barbara’s house. He heard Trottie was handling his daughter in a rough manner and wanted to talk to him about it. Rusk followed Barbara and Trottie to Barbara’s grandmother’s house. When Rusk got there, Trottie stepped out of a car and fired at him, but the shot did not hit Rusk or his car. Rusk decided not to press charges against Trottie.
Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson.
Willie Tyrone Trottie, 45, was executed by lethal injection on 10 September 2014 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of his ex-common-law wife and her brother in their home.
Willie Trottie and Barbara Canada met in 1989, formed a romantic relationship, moved in together, and had a child. The couple separated in September 1992, and Canada moved in with her mother and other family members. Trottie then began threatening and harassing Canada, begging her to return to him. He once bumped her car while she was traveling 60 to 65 miles per hour, and once kidnapped her, releasing her only after she promised to reunite with him. According to witnesses at his trial, Trottie warned Canada repeatedly that he would kill her if she did not return to him.
In October, Trottie and a cousin went to Canada's house in Harris County to visit Trottie's child. During the visit, Trottie grabbed Canada by the neck, threw her on the couch, and choked her. After he was forced to leave the house, Trottie shot out the tires on Canada's car. Canada obtained a protective court order against Trottie, but the threats and harassment did not stop. In April 1993, Trottie telephoned Canada and threatened to kill her unless she returned, this time giving her a deadline of 1 May.
On 3 May, Trottie, then 23, came to Canada's house armed with a shotgun. Barbara's brother, Titus Canada, 29, confronted Trottie with a .380 caliber pistol, at which point Trottie departed. He then called the home and said that he "wanted" Barbara and her brother. At 11:00 p.m., Trottie returned. He kicked in the door of Canada's house and began firing a 9 mm pistol, hitting Barbara's mother and sister. Titus grabbed his .380 caliber pistol and began shooting at Trottie, hitting him before being wounded himself. Trottie then found Barbara, 24, in a back bedroom. He shot her eleven times while she lay on the ground, saying, "Bitch, I told you I was going to kill you." He then returned to the living room and shot Titus twice in the back of the head. There were five children under the age of seven in the home. None were wounded, but at least two of them witnessed Titus's murder. Barbara's mother and sister survived their injuries. Trottie drove himself to the hospital in Barbara's car. He was arrested in the emergency room. Numerous witnesses testified for the state that they had heard Trottie's threats against Barbara Canada. One witness testified that Trottie had also threatened Titus Canada for getting "in the way."
Trottie had a history of misdemeanor theft and weapons convictions going back to high school. He also had a prior felony charge of automobile theft in September 1990. He pleaded guilty and was given a deferred adjudication sentence of five years' probation. He quit reporting for probation in February 1993.
A jury found Trottie guilty of capital murder in May 1993 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in September 1995. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
In an interview with the Associated Press a few days before his execution, Trottie admitted killing Barbara and Titus Canada, but disputed his culpability as a murderer. "There's no doubt I committed this crime," Trottie said. "The dispute is the sequence of how it happened." Trottie said that he shot Titus only after Titus shot at him first, and that his gun "went off" during a struggle with Barbara. "I shot my brother-in-law in self-defense and I shot my wife by accident," Trottie said.
As Trottie's execution date drew near, appeals filed on his behalf argued that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice planned to execute him with expired chemicals, introducing a risk of "torturous" pain in violation of the Eighth Amendment. TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark stated that the pentobarbital expected to be used on Trottie had a "use by" date of 30 September and that it had been tested for potency and defects. Attorneys for the state argued that Trottie's appeal was merely the latest of several ploys by death penalty opponents to attempt to force the state into disclosing the identities of the pharmacies and labs it contracts with to prepare and test its execution chemicals. The courts have repeatedly denied such disclosure requests in the past.
Numerous medical web sites minimize the importance of drug expiration dates, explaining they reflect the date of the manufacturer's guarantee, not the date the drug is expected to go bad. "[T]he expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use," Harvard Medical School's site reads. "Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago." The US Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, advises against using expired drugs, because their effectiveness is not guaranteed. Trottie's last-ditch appeals were denied.
In his last statement, at his execution, Trottie expressed love to witnesses who came to support him as well as to the relatives of Barbara and Titus Canada. He asked for forgiveness several times. "Find it in your hearts to forgive me," Trottie said. "I'm sorry." After Trottie finished his statement, the lethal injection was started. His eyes closed, then he took about eight quiet breaths. He was pronounced dead 22 minutes later at 6:35 p.m.
"Houston man executed in deaths of estranged lover, her brother," by Allan Turner. (September 10, 2014 7:42pm)
HUNTSVILLE – Willie Tyrone Trottie, condemned for the murder of his estranged wife and her brother, went to his death in Texas' execution chamber Wednesday offering apologies to his victims' family. As relatives of Barbara Canada and Titus Canada embraced and sobbed, Trottie smiled faintly, called their names and said, "I hope this brings you some closure. Stay strong. I am going home to be with the Lord. "Find it in your hearts to forgive me. I'm sorry," he continued. "Jesus take me home." Trottie, 45, was declared dead at 6:35 p.m. – 30 minutes after the lethal injection of pentobarbital began flowing.
Later, relatives of the victims issued a statement saying they were "glad to see justice finally served all these years later. It is time for our family to end this chapter and move on." Trottie's case gained national attention earlier this year when he shared his views concerning his crime, death row and capital punishment with the online publication, gawker.com. In his letter, Trottie denounced his pending execution as a "murdercution."
The former Houston security guard's death sentence grew out out of a romantic relationship that ended on May 3, 1993 in a bloody shootout at the Canada family home. Trottie insisted that he had fired his 9 mm semi-automatic "in the heat of passion," only after he had been wounded by shots fired by his estranged lover's brother. Trottie said he had gone to the residence to borrow a car. Accounts of the fatal night included in court documents, though, indicate Trottie's appearance at the Canada home came after repeated threats that he would murder Barbara Canada if she failed to return to him. "Bitch, I told you I was going to kill you," he said as he pumped 11 bullets into the 24-year-old woman's body. Titus Canada, 29, was shot twice in the head, and the pair's mother and sister also were wounded. Trial witnesses testified that Trottie frequently telephoned his former lover at home and work and that, on one occasion, he bumped her car with his vehicle at highway speeds. In response to the threats and harassment, Barbara Canada obtained a restraining order barring further contact.
In state and federal appeals filed days before the scheduled execution, Trottie's lawyers argued that Canada - mother of Trottie's young son - continued their intimate relationship despite the court order. Arguing that Trottie had suffered from ineffective representation, they said that jurors in their client's first trial never heard such testimony - testimony that might have lent credence to his claims of passion and self-defense. Sixteen years passed, they told appeals courts, before prosecutors told Trottie's legal team that a trial witness had privately conceded that Canada "probably had messed with (Trottie's) mind." According to court documents, Trottie and Canada began dating in 1989, later living together in a common-law marriage. They separated three years later.
In an 11th-hour filing Tuesday with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Trottie's lawyers questioned whether state prison officials were truthful when they asserted pentobarbital to be used in the execution would remain potent and pure. Lawyers asked the court to issue a stay and schedule oral arguments concerning the compounding pharmacy-produced drug. Trottie was the eighth Texas killer put to death this year.
Trottie and Barbara Canada met and began dating in about 1989. Shortly thereafter, the two moved in together and had a child. In September 1992, the couple separated and Barbara moved in with her family. Trottie's behavior towards Barbara became increasingly violent following their 1992 separation. According to state witnesses that testified at Trottie's trial, Trottie warned Barbara that he would kill her if she did not return to him and repeated the threat several times in the months after she moved out.
Barbara's close friend testified that Trottie called Barbara "constantly" at home and at work, begging her to come back to him. Trottie hit Barbara, bumped Barbara's car with his own while it was traveling at sixty to sixty-five miles per hour, and once kidnapped her, releasing her only after she promised to reunite with him. Barbara obtained a protective order against Trottie in March 1993. Nevertheless, state witnesses testified that Trottie telephoned Barbara in April and told her that she had until May 1, 1993 to return to him, or else he would kill her.
On May 3, 1993, Trottie called Barbara again and told her that "he wasn't going to wait around anymore"ť and again threatened to kill her. One witness testified that Trottie also threatened Barbara's brother Titus Canada because, according to Trottie, he had gotten "in the way."ť
Trottie arrived at the Canada residence at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the night of May 3, 1993, armed with a semiautomatic 9mm pistol. At the time, Trottie had visited Barbara's house earlier that day, armed with a shotgun. Barbara's brother Titus confronted Trottie with a .380 pistol, at which point Trottie departed. Before he returned at 11:00 p.m., Trottie called Barbara's home and said that he "wanted" Barbara and her brother. There were five children under the age of seven in the house, along with numerous other family members.
According to state witnesses, Trottie opened fire immediately, wounding Barbara's mother, sister, and brother. Barbara's brother returned fire with a .380 caliber pistol and shot Trottie numerous times. Though wounded, Trottie cornered Barbara in a bedroom and, while she lay on the ground, shot her eleven times, saying "Bitch, I told you I was going to kill you." Trottie then returned to the area where Barbara's brother was lying wounded and, in the view of at least two small children, fired two shots into the back of Barbara's brother's head, killing him. Trottie left the Canada home and was arrested a short time later in the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
In the penalty phase of the trial, the state presented evidence that in 1988, Trottie pled guilty in Louisiana to theft of property valued at less than $100. In July 1990, he was arrested in Texas for unlawfully carrying a weapon. He pled guilty to that crime, as well. In September 1990, Trottie was convicted of theft in Texas and placed on probation. He violated a condition of the probation in February 1993. In October 1992, Trottie shot out the tires on Barbara Canada's car.
Daily Mail Online
•"I love you all. I'm sorry": Last words of condemned Texas inmate for 1993 murders.
•Willie Trottie, 45, drew last breath just before 6.35pm CDT - 22 minutes after lethal injection began
•Trottie had a last meal of baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and bread.
•Trotte has been convicted of shooting dead his former common-law wife, and her brother in 1993.
•The execution came after U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trottie's last-ditch appeals
•He became second death row inmate to be executed Wednesday, following Earl Ringo Jr in Missouri.
Published: 21:13 EST, 10 September 2014 | Updated: 03:48 EST, 11 September 2014
A Texas death row inmate convicted of killing his former common-law wife and her brother more than two decades ago in Houston was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening. Willie Trottie's death sentence was carried out about 90 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last-day appeals. He had contended he had poor legal help at his trial and questioned the potency of the execution drug.
Trottie repeatedly expressed love to witnesses - both people he selected and relatives of his victims, Barbara and Titus Canada - and several times asked for forgiveness as he was about to be executed. ‘I love you all,’ he said. ‘I'm going home, going to be with the Lord. ... Find it in your hearts to forgive me. I'm sorry.’ As the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital kicked in, he closed his eyes and breathed quietly. After about eight breaths, he opened his mouth to exhale, then closed it. There was no further movement. Trottie, 45, was pronounced dead at 6.35pm central standard time - 22 minutes after the injection began.
Since Texas has struck down the tradition of offering death row inmates special meals before execution, Trottie had the same dinner as everyone else in his unit: baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, bread, and a choice of tea, punch, or water. His was the eighth lethal injection this year in Texas, and the first in the nation's most active death penalty state since recent executions went awry in Oklahoma and Arizona.
Mechanism of death: It took Trottie 22 minutes to die from the moment he was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital ‘It's time for our family to end this chapter and be able to move on,’ the statement read. Trottie had acknowledged shooting Barbara Canada, 24, and her brother, Titus Canada, 28, at their parents' home in Houston. But Trottie said the May 1993 shootings were accidental and in self-defense, and not worthy of a death sentence. "I love you all. I'm going home, going to be with the Lord. ... Find it in your hearts to forgive me. I'm sorry."
Prosecutors said he had threatened to kill Canada, who had a protective order against him, if she didn't return to him. They said he carried out that threat when barging into the house and opening fire. Trottie's attorneys had argued to the Supreme Court that lawyers at his 1993 trial were deficient for not addressing his self-defense theory and for failing to produce sufficient testimony about Trottie's abusive childhood with an alcoholic mother. State attorneys scoffed at the argument, saying Trottie's self-defense claim was absurd and had been rejected in earlier appeals.
Trottie's attorneys also contended the dose of pentobarbital for his lethal injection was past its effectiveness date and could subject him to unconstitutional ‘tortuous’ pain. The state responded that the drug doesn't expire until the end of the month and that tests showed proper potency. They argued the appeal seeking details of the drug was merely another attempt to force prison officials to disclose the compounding pharmacy that provides the execution drugs, something the courts repeatedly have refused to order.
Investigators have said that Trottie called his 24-year-old ex-wife May 3, 1993, and renewed an earlier death threat. They said he then showed up at her parents' house and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol. Titus Canada, 29, also had a gun and wounded Trottie, who then cornered his ex-wife in a bedroom and shot her 11 times before returning to the wounded brother and shooting him twice execution style in the back of the head as at least two young children watched, according to investigators. Trottie drove himself to a hospital, where police arrested him.
"Harris County man executed for 1993 murders, Cody Stark. (Thursday, September 11, 2014 12:00 am)
A Harris County man apologized to the family of his former common-law wife and her brother whom he gunned down more than 21 years ago before he was put to death Wednesday night. Willie Tyrone Trottie was executed by lethal injection about an hour and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeals. He became the eighth inmate to be executed in Texas this year and the first in the state since executions in Oklahoma and Arizona did not go as planned.
Trottie, who turned 45 Monday, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering Barbara Nell Canada, 24, and her brother Titus Canada, 28, at their parent’s in Houston on May 3, 1993. He admitted shooting the siblings, but said Barbara Canada’s death was an accident and that he shot Titus Canada in self-defense. He asked the victims’ relatives several times for forgiveness and said he hoped “this brings you some closure” before he was executed. He also told his family and friends “I love you” and to “stay strong.” “Find it in your hearts to forgive me. I’m sorry,” Trottie said.
The single lethal dose of pentobarbital began at 6:13 p.m. As the drug began to take affect, Trottie began breathing heavily and closed his eyes. He was pronounced dead 22 minutes later at 6:35 p.m.
Trottie’s appeals contended he had poor legal help at his trial and questioned the potency of the execution drug. His lawyers argued that the state’s supply of pentobarbital had expired. During his trial, prosecutors said he had threatened to kill Canada, who had a protective order against him, if she didn’t return to him. They said he carried out that threat when barging into the house and opening fire. His attorneys had argued to the Supreme Court that Trottie’s lawyers at his 1993 trial were deficient for not addressing his self-defense theory and for failing to produce sufficient testimony about Trottie’s abusive childhood with an alcoholic mother. State attorneys scoffed at the argument, saying Trottie’s self-defense claim was absurd and had been rejected in earlier appeals.
Trottie’s attorneys also contended the dose of pentobarbital for his lethal injection was past its effectiveness date and could subject him to unconstitutional “tortuous” pain. The state said the doses were not expired. The state responded that the drug doesn’t expire until the end of the month and that tests showed proper potency.
Ex parte Trottie, Not Reported in S.W.3d (Tex. Crim. App. 2009). (State Habeas)
This is an application for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to the provisions of Article 11.071, Tex.Code Crim. Proc. In November 1993, Applicant was convicted of the offense of capital murder. The jury answered the special issues submitted pursuant to Article 37.071, Tex.Code Crim. Proc., and the trial court, accordingly, set punishment at death. This Court affirmed Applicant's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Trottie v. State, No. AP-71, 793 (Tex.Crim.App. September 20, 1995)(not designated for publication).
Applicant presents eight allegations in his application in which he challenges the validity of his conviction and resulting sentence. The trial court did not hold an evidentiary hearing. The trial court adopted the State's amended proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that the relief sought be denied.
This Court has reviewed the record with respect to the allegations made by Applicant. We adopt the trial judge's findings and conclusions, with the exception of findings # 65, # 66, and # 67. Based upon the trial court's findings and conclusions and our own review, we deny relief. IT IS SO ORDERED.
Trottie v. Stephens, --- Fed.Appx. ---- (5th Cir. 2014). (Federal Habeas)
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, USDC No. 4:09–CV–00435.
Before HIGGINBOTHAM, DAVIS, and ELROD, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM:
Pursuant to Fifth Cir. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in Fifth Cir. R. 47.5.4.
Willie Tyrone Trottie was convicted of capital murder for the deaths of Titus and Barbara Canada in 1993 and sentenced to death. Trottie is scheduled to be executed September 10, 2014. On August 18, 2014, Trottie filed a motion under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the district court for relief from the district court's judgment that had denied his petition for federal habeas relief. The district court denied Trottie's motion on September 2, 2014. Trottie v. Stephens, No. 4:09–cv–00435, 2014 WL 4354445, (S.D.Tex. Sept. 2, 2014). Trottie now requests a COA on the district court's denial of the 60(b) motion. For the following reasons, Trottie's application for a COA is denied.
A detailed factual background of this case is set out in the district court's order denying Trottie's Rule 60(b) motion, Trottie, 2014 WL 4354445, and this court's previous opinion that denied Trottie's previous application for a COA. Trottie v. Stephens, 720 F.3d 231 (5th Cir.2013). A brief overview is provided here.
Trottie and Barbara began dating in 1989 and soon thereafter began living together and had a child. In September 1992, Trottie and Barbara separated and she moved in with her family. After some time, the relationship soured and Barbara moved out. Trottie threatened that he would kill her if she did not return to him. He repeated the threat regularly, called Barbara constantly at home and at work, hit Barbara, bumped her car with his own while traveling at highway speed, and once kidnapped Barbara. In March 1993, Barbara obtained a protective order against Trottie. In April 1993, Trottie told Barbara that he would kill her if she did not return to him by May 1, 1993. On May 3, 1993, Trottie called Barbara and repeated his threat to kill her and her brother Titus, because, Trottie claimed, Titus had gotten in the way of their reunion.
Trottie arrived at Titus's house at approximately 11:00 p.m. on May 3, 1993, armed with a semi-automatic 9mm pistol. At the time, there were numerous family members in the house, including five children under the age of seven. Trottie opened fire immediately, wounding Barbara's mother, sister, and Titus. Titus returned fire, wounding Trottie. Trottie then cornered Barbara and shot her eleven times, saying “B–––ch, I told you I was going to kill you.” Trottie then returned to where Titus lay wounded and shot him twice in the back of the head.
The state charged Trottie with the capital murders of Barbara and Titus Canada. During the penalty phase the state provided evidence of multiple prior criminal charges, probation violation, past violence toward Barbara and evidence that the killing was “both premeditated and extreme.” Trottie presented testimony from his mother and sister about his childhood, during which he experienced abandonment and neglect, eventually being placed in foster care. Trottie also presented favorable testimony about his work history, efforts through volunteer programs, good disciplinary record while incarcerated, positive testimony from his probation officer and expert testimony regarding his abandonment and mental health issues.
Following the jury trial, the trial court sentenced Trottie to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Trottie's conviction and sentence. Trottie v. State, No. 71,793 (Tex.Crim.App. Sept. 20, 1995). Trottie filed a state application for a writ of habeas corpus which was denied on February 11, 2009. Ex parte Trottie, No. 70,302–01 (Tex.Crim.App. Feb. 11, 2009). Trottie filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on February 13, 2009, and amended petitions on September 14, 2009, and March 10, 2010. The state responded and moved for summary judgment on December 20, 2010. Trottie responded and cross-moved for summary judgment on August 17, 2011. The district court granted the state's motion for summary judgment on September 30, 2011. This court subsequently denied Trottie's application for a COA, Trottie v. Stephens, 720 F.3d 231 (5th Cir.2013), and the Supreme Court denied Trottie's petition for a writ of certiorari. Trottie v. Stephens, 134 S.Ct. 1540 (2014).
On August 18, 2014, Trottie moved pursuant to Rule 60(b) for relief from the district court's judgment, which the district court denied in an order dated September 2, 2014. Trottie, 2014 WL 4354445. Trottie now seeks a COA from this court.
This court reviews the denial of a Rule 60(b) motion under an abuse of discretion standard. Hernandez v. Thaler, 630 F.3d 420, 428 (5th Cir.2010). A COA is improper where reasonable jurists could not disagree that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Id. “It is not enough that the granting of relief might have been permissible, or even warranted ... [the] denial must have been so unwarranted as to constitute an abuse of discretion.” Diaz v. Stephens, 731 F.3d 370, 374 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 48 (2013). A movant is required “to show ‘extraordinary circumstances' justifying the reopening of a final judgment.’ “ Id. (quoting Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005)). “Such circumstances will rarely occur in the habeas context.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 535.
The district court denied Trottie's 60(b) motion as untimely. The district court further determined that even if it were timely, Trottie's motion merely attacked the substance of the district court's resolution of his habeas petition on the merits. Moreover, Trottie had failed to show extraordinary circumstances that would entitle him to Rule 60(b) relief.
As the district court noted, a Rule 60(b)(6) motion must “be made within a reasonable time.” See Tamayo v. Stephens, 740 F.3d 986, 991 (5th Cir.2014) (holding that waiting eight months after relevant change in law to bring a 60(b) motion was not within a reasonable time). Trottie's motion came almost three years after the district court had denied his petition and more than a year after we denied a COA. Trottie did not cite any newly discovered evidence or intervening changes in law. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Trottie's motion was not brought “within a reasonable time,” and he did not show good cause for the delay.
Turning to other bases for the district court's determination, we next consider whether the district court erred in determining that Trottie failed to present “extraordinary circumstances.” A movant is required to “show ‘extraordinary circumstances' justifying the reopening of a final judgment.” Diaz, 731 F.3d at 374 (quoting Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 535). Trottie did not demonstrate any “extraordinary circumstances” justifying the reopening of the district court's final judgment. Moreover, Trottie largely raised the same arguments regarding the Texas capital murder statute and ineffective assistance of counsel, which were previously considered and rejected by the district court and for which this court denied a COA. Insofar as Trottie sought to re-litigate claims that have already been litigated and resolved, “[a] Rule 60(b) motion is not a proper mechanism to re-litigate the merits of [previously litigated claims] and surely not a proper vehicle for doing so when the judgment from which [Trottie] seeks relief has been confirmed on appeal....” Hall v. Stephens, No. 3:10–CV–135, 2014 WL 4215329 (5th Cir. Aug. 27, 2014); see United States v. Hernandes, 708 F.3d 680 (5th Cir.2013) (holding Rule 60(b) motion should be construed as a successive habeas petition under § 2255 where it attacked the merits of the district court's resolution of the initial petition); Adams v. Thaler, 679 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir.2012) (recognizing that a Rule 60(b) motion is proper only to challenge a procedural, not substantive error).
In addition to seeking 60(b) relief, Trottie requested an evidentiary hearing. It is unclear whether Trottie's motion for a COA asks this court to hold that the district court erred in not granting him an evidentiary hearing, or asks this court directly to order such a hearing. In either case, Trottie is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. The district court did not err by refusing to grant a hearing, and there is no reason for this court to grant a hearing in response to the motion for a COA. A hearing is not appropriate where, as is the case here, there are “no relevant factual disputes that would require development in order to assess the claims.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 436 (2000). Furthermore, review of the state habeas proceeding “is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011). Thus, in reviewing any defects that Trottie alleges in his state habeas proceeding, the district court would be limited to the record that was before the state court. See id.
Trottie's argument for an evidentiary hearing turns, again, in large part on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims.FN1 Trottie alleged that “[t]he state court's failure to consider the core of Trottie's ineffective assistance claimthat is, the inadequacy of the investigation conducted by trial counsel-opens the door to an evidentiary hearing before the District Court.” Because these claims have already been considered and rejected, Trottie is not entitled to relitigate them, and thus not entitled to an evidentiary hearing to develop them.FN2 See § 2254(d); Trottie, 720 F.3d at 241–51. In addition, Trottie's request for an evidentiary hearing is foreclosed by § 2254(e)(2). See § 2254(e)(2) (restricting evidentiary hearings to narrow circumstances). Accordingly Trottie's request for a COA is DENIED.
FN1. Trottie argues that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing under Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013). Trevino extended the application of Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), to Texas cases. In Martinez, the Supreme Court held that “an otherwise procedurally defaulted claim of ineffective assistance of counsel may be heard by a federal habeas court where it was not properly raised in the state habeas court on initial review due to state habeas counsel's ineffective representation.” Escamilla v. Stephens, 749 F.3d 380, 395 (5th Cir.2014) (emphasis omitted). “ Martinez does not apply to claims that were fully adjudicated on the merits by the state habeas court because those claims are, by definition, not procedurally defaulted.” Id. Trottie stated in his previous motion for a COA that he fully exhausted his ineffective assistance of counsel claims before the state habeas court. Thus, by Trottie's own admission, this is not a Martinez case, nor does Trottie assert that Martinez applies in his current motion for a COA. Thus, Trottie is not entitled to relief under Martinez or Trevino, and an evidentiary hearing is not warranted.
FN2. Trottie makes much of the fact that neither state nor federal habeas counsel has been able to contact or procure an affidavit from Connie Williams, the trial counsel. The exact type of evidence Trottie seeks does not alter the conclusion that his ineffective assistance of counsel claims may not be re-litigated because they were already considered and rejected on the merits. See § 2254(d).
Trottie also requests a stay of execution. A stay of execution is an equitable remedy. Adams v. Thaler, 679 F.3d 312, 318 (5th Cir.2012) (citing Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 584 (2006)). Nothing in Trottie's application for a COA requires further time for adjudication and Trottie has not demonstrated that he is entitled to a stay of execution. As such, his motion for a stay is DENIED.