ANTON J. KRAWCZUK, Petitioner-Appellant,
SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Florida D.C. Docket No. 2:13-cv-00559-JES-CM
HULL, WILLIAM PRYOR, and MARTIN, Circuit Judges.
death row inmate Anton Krawczuk appeals the district
court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition for
a writ of habeas corpus. At issue is Krawczuk's claim
that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the
investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence during
his penalty phase proceedings. After review and with the
benefit of oral argument, we conclude that the state
court's denial of Krawczuk's ineffective trial
counsel claim was not contrary to, or an unreasonable
application of, clearly established federal law, nor was it
based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.
Accordingly, we affirm the district court's denial of
Krawczuk's § 2254 petition.
first recount the evidence and procedural history.
Murder and Robbery
September 12, 1990, Krawczuk and his roommate Billy Poirier
brutally murdered and robbed David Staker. Krawczuk v.
State, 634 So.2d 1070, 1071 (Fla. 1994)
("Krawczuk I"). Both Krawczuk and Poirier,
who shared a home in Lee County, Florida, were sexually
involved with Staker during the months leading up to the
murder. Id. Krawczuk and Poirier planned the murder
and robbery three or four days in advance, arranging to carry
out the crimes while visiting Staker at his home.
night of the murder, Krawczuk and Poirier went together to
Staker's home. Id. They brought gloves with them
to use while carrying out the murder and parked their vehicle
some distance away from the victim's house. After the
three men watched television in the living room for twenty to
thirty minutes, Krawczuk suggested that they go to the
series of other events in the bedroom, Krawczuk retrieved his
gloves, began acting aggressively, and proceeded to choke
Staker with both hands. Id. Meanwhile, Poirier
assisted by holding Staker's mouth shut and pinching his
nose closed. Id. Staker fought back and even tried
to hit Krawczuk with a lamp, but Poirier was able to overtake
Staker and wrestle the lamp away. Id. After almost
ten minutes, Staker relented. See id. Believing that
Staker might be "faking it, " however, Krawczuk
twice poured drain cleaner and water into Staker's mouth
until it overflowed. Id. Poirier then stuffed a
washcloth into Staker's mouth and covered it with tape.
Id. Krawczuk then bound Staker's ankles, and the
assailants deposited the body in the bathtub. Id. It
was later determined that Staker died of asphyxia and
accordance with their established plan, Krawczuk and Poirier
then stole a number of Staker's possessions, including
television sets, stereo equipment, a video recorder, five
rifles, and a pistol. Id. They loaded these items
into Staker's pickup truck, along with Staker's body,
and drove to the home of Gary Sigelmier, who bought some of
the stolen items and agreed to store the rest. Id.
at 1071-72. Krawczuk and Poirer then loaded Staker's body
into their own vehicle, abandoned Staker's pickup truck,
and drove to a rural area, which Krawczuk had scouted before
the murder, to dump Staker's body. Id. at 1072.
They discarded Staker's body in the woods and left.
Investigation, Confession, and Indictment
days following the murder, Staker's employer noticed that
Staker had not shown up for work or picked up his paycheck.
Id. at 1071. She went looking for Staker at his
home, where she found the door open and what looked like the
scene of a robbery. Id. She immediately contacted
Lee County authorities. Id.
September 13, 1990, authorities found a body, later
identified as Staker's, in a wooded area in Charlotte
County, Florida. Id. Later that month, Sigelmier
reported to the Charlotte County Sheriff's office that he
bought property stolen from Staker's home and that he had
acquired it from Krawczuk and Poirer. Id.
September 18, 1990, sheriff's deputies from Lee County
and Charlotte County went to Krawczuk and Poirer's home
and took both men into custody. Id. at 1071-72.
After waiving his rights under Miranda v. Arizona,
384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966), Krawczuk confessed to
Staker's murder. Krawczuk I, 634 So.2d at 1072.
October 3, 1990, a grand jury indicted Krawczuk and Poirier
for (1) first degree premeditated murder, (2) first degree
felony murder, and (3) robbery.
LeGrande's Letter Regarding Aggravation and
March 8, 1991, Krawczuk's appointed trial counsel,
Barbara LeGrande, wrote a letter to Krawczuk explaining the
importance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances in a
capital case. She informed Krawczuk that she had reviewed his
military records and had provided them to Dr. Richard C.
Keown, who conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Krawczuk. In
her letter, LeGrande included a list of all the statutory
aggravating and mitigating factors that would be considered
by the jury and judge in determining whether to sentence
Krawczuk to death.
letter, LeGrande predicted the five aggravating factors the
State would try to prove and evaluated the likelihood that
the State would succeed in proving each one. LeGrande
identified five mitigating factors that she intended to prove
on Krawczuk's behalf and explained that proving most of
them would require Krawczuk to testify at trial. She
explained to Krawczuk that facts-including pre-planning the
murder, pouring drain cleaner down the victim's throat,
and hiding the body-would probably cause the jury to return a
recommendation of death.
Dr. Keown's Psychiatric Evaluation and Report
the pretrial proceedings, counsel LeGrande sought funds for a
psychiatric evaluation to determine both Krawczuk's
sanity at the time of the evaluation and his mental state at
the time of Staker's murder. The state trial court
granted Krawczuk's motion and ordered an examination by
Dr. Keown, who prepared a psychiatric report of his findings.
April 9, 1991 report, Dr. Keown summarized Krawczuk's
brief history of mental health treatment. When Krawczuk was
eleven or twelve years old, he attended court-ordered
counseling because of his tendency to get into trouble and
run away from home. Later, during his time serving as a
United States Marine, Krawczuk was referred to a military
psychiatrist because of Krawczuk's "apathetic and
disinterested attitude about marine life, suicidal
intentions, and conflicts with military life." Dr.
Keown's report noted that though the military
psychiatrist identified no evidence of neurosis, psychosis,
brain syndrome, or homicidal or suicidal thoughts, she did
find that Krawczuk suffered from a mixed personality disorder
and exhibited traits like immaturity, passive-aggressiveness,
and antisocial personality patterns. LeGrande had forwarded a
copy of Krawczuk's military records to Dr. Keown. Dr.
Keown's report highlighted that Krawczuk was "of at
least average intelligence with no significant cognitive
Krawczuk's family history, Dr. Keown noted that Krawczuk
had no meaningful relationship with his father, that his
mother was physically and verbally abusive, and that his
stepfather often beat him. Krawczuk told Dr. Keown that his
poor family life drove him to misbehavior, truancy, and even
serving in the Marines, Krawczuk was (1) disciplined for
fighting and misusing military equipment, (2) was court
martialed for being away without leave, and (3) served six
months in military confinement. Krawczuk eventually received
an administrative separation from his military service.
Krawczuk also explained to Dr. Keown that "he would
rather have death than twenty-five years in jail" if he
was found guilty.
Dr. Keown found that Krawczuk suffered from mild depressive
symptoms but did not require medication. Dr. Keown concluded
that Krawczuk was competent to stand trial and was sane at
the time of Staker's murder. By May 8, 1991, Krawczuk had
received Dr. Keown's report from LeGrande.
Pretrial Motion to Suppress Confession
8, 1991, Krawczuk filed a motion to suppress his confession,
which the state trial court denied. Id. The state
trial court determined that Krawczuk's confession was
admissible because it was given voluntarily after he was
advised of, and waived, his Miranda rights.
Change of Plea Hearing and Guilty Plea
September 27, 1991, Krawczuk informed the state trial court
that he intended to plead guilty to all three counts in the
indictment-first degree premeditated murder, first degree
felony murder, and robbery-and requested the death penalty.
Id. The state trial court held a hearing on
Krawczuk's change of plea.
outset, Krawczuk informed the state trial court that he was
prescribed Elavil because he became increasingly nervous in
the days leading up to the trial and the medication had a
calming effect to help him sleep. Id. at 1073.
Krawczuk took this medication the day of the hearing, but he
could not feel its effects and, at any rate, it did not
prevent him from making a reasoned decision about his plea.
Krawczuk stated that he otherwise had never suffered from
mental illness before.
the plea colloquy, Krawczuk indicated that he understood that
an adjudication of guilt for murder could result in
imposition of the death penalty. Krawczuk acknowledged his
understanding that the proceedings would include a penalty
phase to determine whether death would be an appropriate
sentence. The state trial court explained to Krawczuk that he
was entitled to have a jury make this determination during
the penalty phase and that the jury's recommendation
carried great weight.
penalty phase proceedings, Krawczuk affirmed that he wished
to waive the jury determination in favor of a determination
by the state trial court and that he did not want to present
any mitigating evidence. When asked why he intended to plead
guilty and waive the opportunity to present mitigating
evidence, Krawczuk answered that he "shouldn't be
allowed to live for what [he] did."
plea hearing, the state trial court also addressed with
Krawczuk whether he was satisfied with the representation of
LeGrande. By a letter to the trial court dated April 29,
1991, Krawczuk had requested that LeGrande be dismissed and
that he be appointed different counsel. Krawczuk reversed
course at the hearing, however, stating that he was satisfied
with LeGrande's representation and no longer wanted her
removed. In addition, Krawczuk reported that he and LeGrande
had fully discussed the implications of his guilty plea.
the plea hearing, LeGrande had filed a motion for funds to
hire a mitigation expert, but Krawczuk dismissed that motion
at the hearing. LeGrande explained that she had advised
Krawczuk not to plead guilty and was prepared to present
mitigating evidence. In particular, LeGrande planned to
present the testimony of Dr. Keown and Paul Wise,
Krawczuk's coworker, but Krawczuk instructed her not to.
LeGrande intimated that she would present additional
mitigating evidence, but she did not specify what evidence.
LeGrande understood that, under Florida law, it was
Krawczuk's right to instruct her not to present
state trial court found that Krawczuk was competent,
determined that his guilty plea was entered freely and
voluntarily, and adjudicated him guilty of first degree
premeditated murder and robbery.
Krawczuk's Letter Following Sentencing Hearing
the state trial court accepted his guilty plea, Krawczuk
wrote a September 30, 1991 letter to LeGrande reiterating his
desire to be sentenced to death and expressing hope that his
guilty plea would help ensure his receiving the death
As for my sentencing hearing, do you feel I can achieve my
goal of receiving the death sentence? From the sounds of it,
[the prosecutor] is very much for it as well, isn't he?
By my pleading guilty to the charges, doesn't that
increase the aggravating circumstances against me, and
basically ensure my death penalty? After all, I am assisting
the prosecution in their proving of my total guilt,
same letter, Krawczuk lauded LeGrande's representation,
As far as I'm concerned, you have proven to be a shining
example for a lawyer, and I have nothing but praise for you
[and] your work. You have examined each and every aspect, as
I have requested. In fact, I feel that you have done far more
than was actually required. If I have put you in a bind by
pleading guilty, it wasn't my intention. Thank you for
remaining as my counsel, through this most critical of all
Penalty Phase Proceedings
Krawczuk's guilty plea, in a separate hearing on October
29, 1991, the State argued a penalty phase trial before a
jury would be necessary despite Krawczuk's waiver. The
state trial court agreed and ordered a jury trial, which took
place on February 4 and 5, 1992.
jury selection began, Krawczuk reiterated that he did not
want LeGrande to participate in any part of the penalty phase
trial, including selecting the jury, cross-examining the
State's witnesses, presenting mitigation evidence, or
making a closing argument. LeGrande again explained that she
had advised Krawczuk against this course of action. When
asked why he had chosen this course, Krawczuk replied:
"Because I just feel basically twenty-five years as
opposed to a death penalty is one in the same, either way you
look at it, your life is gone."
this colloquy occurred:
THE COURT: It's my understanding from your remarks-and I
don't want to put words in your mouth. But your response
for taking this course of action, or one of the principal
reasons is that the sentence of life with the minimum
mandatory twenty-five years, um, is equally abhorrent and
undesirable to you, as would be a death sentence. Would you
consider them equivalent for your purposes?
MR. KRAWCZUK: Yes, Sir.
extensive colloquy, the state trial court determined that
Krawczuk was competent, that he understood the consequences
of his decision, and that he was sufficiently intelligent to
make this decision.
jury was impaneled, the State gave its opening statement.
Neither LeGrande nor Krawczuk made any opening statement. The
State then proceeded with its case.
State's first witness was Staker's roommate, Charles
Staub, who identified several of the items stolen on the
night of the murder. The State then called Pete Sbabori, an
investigator with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office,
who had helped identify Staker's body, had investigated
the murder, and was present for Krawczuk's arrest.
Sigelmier, the third witness, testified about how he met with
Krawczuk and Poirier on the night of the murder and agreed to
buy and store the items stolen from Staker's house. The
State also presented the testimony of Ed Tamayo, a sergeant
with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, who investigated
the report that Staker was missing, recovered items stolen
from Staker's house, and was present for Krawczuk's
H. Imani, the Medical Examiner for the District of Charlotte
County, testified as an expert in forensic pathology. Dr.
Imani performed the autopsy on Staker's body and
determined that Staker died from asphyxia and strangulation.
State then called Michael Savage, a detective with the
Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, who helped investigate
Staker's murder. Detective Savage was present when
Krawczuk waived his Miranda rights and confessed to
jury's presence, the State played an audio tape of
Krawczuk's confession, in which he explained in gruesome
detail how he and Poirier preplanned and carried out
Staker's murder, robbed Staker's house, and disposed
of Staker's body. During his confession, when asked why
he was motivated to kill Staker, Krawczuk stated that he was
"frustrate[ed] from the homosexual community that
thrive[d]" where he lived and that he "wanted to
the State rested and outside the presence of the jury, the
state trial court again raised the issue of whether Krawczuk
intended to present any mitigating evidence. Initially,
Krawczuk indicated that he might allow the introduction of
Dr. Keown's psychiatric report as mitigating evidence.
LeGrande explained that Krawczuk was willing to do this not
because he wished to avoid the death penalty but as a way of
helping LeGrande discharge her duties as trial counsel and to
prevent his death sentence being overturned on appeal.
state trial court hinted that it was inclined to allow Dr.
Keown's report to be admitted into evidence, but Krawczuk
abruptly changed his mind and directed LeGrande not to
introduce the report during his penalty phase case. Krawczuk
then stated, as before, that he did not wish to present any
mitigating evidence or testify and that he was directing
LeGrande not to make any closing argument. Once again,
LeGrande represented that she had strongly advised Krawczuk
against this course of action. Krawczuk also stated that he
did not wish for the record to reflect the reasons for his
decision due to their "very personal" nature.
Krawczuk wished, the defense rested without presenting any
evidence. After the State's final argument, the defense
waived its opportunity to do the same. At the end of the
penalty phase, the jury unanimously recommended the death
Spencer Hearing and Sentencing
February 11, 1992, the state trial court held a hearing
pursuant to Spencer v. State, 615 So.2d 688 (Fla.
1993). LeGrande again stated that she intended to introduce
Dr. Keown's psychiatric report as mitigation evidence,
but Krawczuk directed her not to. Nonetheless, the state
trial court indicated that, in making its sentencing
determination, it would take into account both Dr.
Keown's psychiatric report and the presentence
investigation report. Krawczuk I, 634 So.2d at 1072.
February 13, 1992, the state trial court sentenced Krawczuk
to death.Id. Based on the evidence, the
state trial court found three statutory aggravating factors:
(1) the murder was committed in the course of a robbery or
for pecuniary gain; (2) the murder was especially heinous,
atrocious, or cruel; and (3) the murder was committed in a
cold, calculated, and premeditated manner with no pretense of
moral or legal justification. Upon consideration of the
presentence investigation report and Dr. Keown's
psychiatric report, the state trial court found one statutory
mitigating factor: that Krawczuk had no significant history
of prior criminal activity.
direct appeal, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed
Krawczuk's first-degree murder conviction and death
sentence. Id. at 1074. The Florida Supreme Court
concluded, inter alia, that sufficient evidence
supported Krawczuk's murder conviction and that the state
trial court adequately considered Dr. Keown's psychiatric
report and the presentence investigation report in reaching
its sentencing decision. Id. at 1073.
United States Supreme Court denied Krawczuk's petition
for writ of certiorari. Krawczuk v. Florida, 513
U.S. 881, 115 S.Ct. 216 (1994) (mem.).
STATE POSTCONVICTION PROCEEDINGS
October 3, 1995, Krawczuk filed his initial motion for state
postconviction relief under Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules
of Criminal Procedure. Krawczuk v. State, 92 So.3d 195,
200 (Fla. 2012) ("Krawczuk II"). On March
15, 2002, Krawczuk filed an amended 3.850 motion raising
twenty four claims. Id. After a hearing pursuant to
Huff v. State, 622 So.2d 982 (Fla. 1993), the state
3.850 court granted an evidentiary hearing on several issues,
including the relevant Strickland issues. At the
hearing, Krawczuk asserted LeGrande should have developed and
presented evidence to show: (1) his physically and
emotionally abusive childhood; (2) his substance and alcohol
abuse; (3) that he was a good worker at his maintenance job
at McDonalds; (4) that he cooperated with authorities; (5)
that he was under a mental or emotional disturbance at the
time of the murder; and (6) that he was allowed to plead
guilty to a lesser charge and receive only a prison sentence.
Id. We summarize the extent of this evidence at the
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