Jonathan Wayne Nobles v. Johnson

127 F.3d 409 (1997) | Cited 374 times | Fifth Circuit | October 28, 1997

JOHN M. DUHÉ, JR., Circuit Judge: Appellant Jonathan Wayne Nobles ("Nobles") appeals the district court's denial of his application for writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


Appellant Nobles broke into a house in Austin, Texas where Mitzi Nalley and her roommate Kelly Farquar were living. Nobles brutally stabbed Nalley and Farquar to death and severely injured Nalley's boyfriend, Ron Ross. Ross survived the attack, despite receiving nineteen stab wounds and losing an eye.

After the murders, Nobles went home and called his friend Marlly O'Brien, asking her to come over and help him. 1 She found Nobles in the bathroom with his arm, which had been badly cut, wrapped in a towel. There was blood all over the bathroom. Nobles then changed clothes, cleaned the bathroom, and put everything with blood on it into a trash bag which he placed in the trunk of O'Brien's car. O'Brien dropped Nobles off at a friend's house, where Nobles shaved his beard and had his arm taped up. O'Brien later picked Nobles up and let him borrow her car while she went to work. Nobles lied to O'Brien and his other friends about what had happened, saying he had been involved in a fight.

Based on physical evidence from the murder scene 2 and on information obtained from O'Brien and others, Nobles was arrested. Nobles confessed to the murders and then led police to where he had hidden the trash bag, containing the murder weapon and the blood-soaked clothes he had worn during the killings.


In 1987 a jury found Nobles guilty of the murders of Nalley and Farquar. The jury responded affirmatively to the two special sentencing issues submitted pursuant to former Article 37.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Tex. Code Crim. P. Ann. art. 37.071(b)(West 1981), and the trial court imposed the death penalty.

Nobles's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed both. Nobles v. State, 843 S.W.2d 503 (Tex.Crim.App. 1992). In 1993 Nobles filed a state habeas petition which the trial court and the Court of Criminal Appeals denied. The United States Supreme Court denied Nobles's petition for writ of certiorari on February 21, 1995.

Nobles moved the United States District Court for appointment of counsel and to proceed in forma pauperis on a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus. The district court granted a stay of execution and appointed counsel who petitioned for writ of habeas corpus. The district court denied Nobles's petition for habeas relief and Nobles appealed. The district court granted a certificate of appealability on all of Nobles's claims.


Nobles's Certificate of Appealability addresses the applicability of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the prosecution's use of an edited confession, and the effectiveness of counsel. We address each of these issues in turn.


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