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Smith v. Haynes

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

June 6, 2018

JOHN GARRETT SMITH, Petitioner,
v.
RONALD HAYNES, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge

         The District Court has referred this action to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel. Petitioner John Garrett Smith filed his federal habeas Petition on December 6, 2017, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking relief from his state court convictions and sentence. See Dkt. 1, 3. The Court concludes Petitioner failed to properly exhaust his state court remedies as to all grounds raised in the Petition; however, a state remedy remains available to Petitioner. Therefore, the Court recommends the Petition be dismissed without prejudice.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The Supreme Court of the State of Washington (“state supreme court”) summarized the facts of Petitioner's case as follows:

John Garrett Smith and Sheryl Smith were married in 2011. On the evening of June 2, 2013, the Smiths engaged in an argument at their home that turned violent. Mr. Smith punched and strangled Mrs. Smith to the point of unconsciousness and then left their home. When Mrs. Smith regained consciousness, her eyes were black and swollen shut, her face was swollen and bleeding, and she had difficulty breathing. Mrs. Smith was hospitalized for several days due to the severity of her injuries, which included a facial fracture and a concussion. For months after the assault, she suffered severe head pain, double vision, nausea, and vertigo.
Mrs. Smith's memory of the attack at the time of trial was limited; she recalled:
I'm being strangled. Garrett's on top of me. My face is being punched. I feel like I'm in a very dark place inside of my head, and three punches, and I'm being called a fat bitch, and I thought I was going to die.
Other evidence filled in Mrs. Smith's memory gaps, including her written statement, which was read into the record. Additionally, there was a recording made of the incident. During the incident, Mr. Smith used the home's landline cordless phone to dial his cell phone in an attempt to locate the cell phone. The cell phone's voice mail system recorded the incident because Mr. Smith left the landline open during his attempt to find his cell phone. This voice mail contained sounds of a woman screaming, a male claiming the woman brought the assault on herself, more screams from the female, name calling by the male, and the following exchange:
MALE: There, are you happy now?
(Woman screaming.)
MALE: You brought this shit on. I have never done this. You and your fucking Mexican. Fuckcocking three-timer. You're not going to get your (inaudible) three check.
WOMAN: Get away.
MALE: No. way. I will kill you.
WOMAN: I know.
[More female screaming and name calling by the male followed until the recording ended.]
At trial, the female in the recording was identified as Sheryl Smith and the male as the defendant, John Garrett Smith. Mr. Smith fled the scene without his cell phone after strangling Mrs. Smith to unconsciousness. The cell phone ended up in the possession of Skylar Williams, Mrs. Smith's daughter and Mr. Smith's stepdaughter, ...

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