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Dowty v. Jarvis

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division

May 31, 2016

EARL DAVID DOWTY, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN T. JARVIS, and MARTY JACKLEY, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS

         Earl David Dowty has filed a § 2254 petition challenging his state court convictions as being obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. Doc. 1.[1] Dowty is currently a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Dowty pleaded guilty to Felon in Possession of a Firearm, United States v. Dowty, CR-11-30026, Doc. 26, and was sentenced to ten years in federal custody by this Court on August 16, 2011, Dowty, CR-11-30026, Doc. 38. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit dismissed Dowty's appeal, Dowty, CR-11-30026, Doc. 52, because Dowty had knowingly waived appeal rights. Dowty filed a motion to vacate his federal court conviction, which has been denied. Dowty v. United States, CV-13-3022, Doc. 24. Both this Court and the Eighth Circuit denied Dowty a certificate of appeal ability. Dowty, CV-13-3022, Docs. 24, 34.

         The firearm to which Dowty admitted possession in his federal felony conviction was one of the firearms stolen in the burglaries for which he was convicted in a South Dakota state court. Dowty, CR-11-30026, Doc. 24. Dowty's federal sentence is being served concurrently with a forty-five-year sentence imposed upon Dowty by the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota. Dowty v. B.O.P. et al.. CV-13-3032, Doc. 14-1 at 4; Doc. 14-2 at 4; Doc. 14-3 at 4.

         The circumstances surrounding Dowty's state court convictions were summarized by the South Dakota Supreme Court in its opinion affirming Dowty's state convictions:

During a 25-day period in October and November 2010, three homes were burglarized in rural Mellette County. The homes were located within 20 miles of each other. The first burglary occurred on October 30, 2010. Upon returning home at approximately 12:30 a.m. on October 31, 2010, Peter and Maria Ferguson realized their home had been burglarized. Several items were missing from the Ferguson home, including two televisions, two jewelry boxes, three guns, Maria's work bag, and all the meat from their freezer. The Fergusons reported the burglary to the Mellette County Sheriffs Office, which initiated an investigation.
On November 6, 2010, Jeannine Woodward and Rose West left their home around 9:00 a.m. When Woodward and West returned home at approximately 4:00 p.m., they discovered that several items were missing from the freezer and that seven guns had been stolen. Outside, Woodward and West noticed blood trailing from the driveway to the front door. However, there was no blood inside their home. During the investigation of the burglary, the Mellette County Sheriffs Department collected a sample of the blood from the front door for DNA testing. At that time, no suspects were identified for either burglary.
The next burglary occurred on November 24, 2010. At approximately 7:00 p.m., Michael Williams returned home after having dinner with his family at a co-worker's house. Williams's wife and children had a separate vehicle, arid planned to return home sometime after Williams. Upon entering his home, Williams immediately saw two men he did not recognize. One of the two men was rifling through the freezer, while the other man was attempting to remove the television from the wall. The man by the freezer turned around and pointed a handgun at Williams. Subsequently, Williams saw the man by the television reach into his coat pocket. Williams then saw a laser beam flash across the wall.
Williams closed the front door and started running away from the house. While Williams was running, he saw the laser beam shining near him on the ground and was then shot twice in the leg. Despite his injuries, Williams was able to access the handgun he carried with him and fire one shot in the air. Williams then called 911 on his cell phone. The two men fled the scene while Williams waited for help. Once law enforcement arrived, Williams was transported to the hospital for treatment. He eventually recovered from his injuries. Items stolen from Williams's home included the handgun with the laser sight, a second handgun, jewelry, coins, and a flashlight.
After Williams was transported to the hospital, law enforcement began investigating the burglary and shooting. Agent Jason Jares, a law enforcement officer employed by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI), led the investigation. One of the items recovered from the scene was a partially smoked cigarette butt that had been found near the deck outside of the home. The cigarette butt was sent to the DCI forensic lab for DNA testing.
As the investigation progressed, Earl Dowty and his stepson, Wayne Richards, became the primary suspects in the burglary and shooting that took place at Williams's home. Specifically, Dowty was suspected of being the individual Williams observed standing at the freezer. Richards was suspected of being the individual Williams observed attempting to remove the television from the wall, who shot Williams as Williams ran away from the house. Both Dowty and Richards lived with Dowty's wife (Richards's mother), Rose Leading Fighter, at her home in Parmelee, South Dakota, which is located within an Indian reservation. Because the home was located on reservation land, Agent Jares sought assistance with the investigation from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. The FBI agent obtained a federal search warrant for Leading Fighter's home that permitted law enforcement to search for items stolen from Williams's home.
The search warrant was executed on January 8, 2011. During the execution of the search warrant, law enforcement did not locate any of the items that had been stolen from Williams's home. Nevertheless, while searching the home, law enforcement discovered a tan cloth bag with a buffalo skull imprinted on the side. The bag contained various items including documents with the name "Maria Ferguson" on them, a wallet, and a jewelry box. Leading Fighter consented to law enforcement taking possession of the bag and its contents.
Before executing the search warrant, Agent Jares was unaware of the burglaries of the Ferguson and Woodward/West homes. However, Agent Jares was informed of these two burglaries after recovering the bag containing the documents with Maria Ferguson's name. Upon learning of these unsolved burglaries, law enforcement realized that some of the items they had seen in plain view while executing the search warrant at Leading Fighter's home were consistent with items that had been stolen from the Ferguson home. Ultimately, Leading Fighter consented to law enforcement taking custody of a jewelry box and a television that had been stolen from the Ferguson home.
As investigations of the three burglaries continued, law enforcement obtained additional evidence that connected Dowty and Richards to the burglaries. For example, law enforcement discovered Dowry and Richards had traded and pawned various guns that had been stolen during the burglaries of the Ferguson, Woodward/West, and Williams homes. Specifically, on November 23, 2010, Richards pawned a rifle that had been stolen from the Woodward/West home. Dowty was with Richards at the time, but Dowty remained outside the pawn shop in a vehicle. The next day, Dowty pawned a rifle that had also been stolen from the Woodward/West home. Richards was in the pawn shop with Dowty at the time Dowty pawned the rifle. Furthermore, on two separate occasions during fall 2010, Dowty traded stolen guns to Jason Little Elk in exchange for Little Elk performing repair work on Dowty's vehicle. The first gun Dowty traded Little Elk was a rifle that had been stolen from the ...

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