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Jelma Smith, Smith's stepmother, testified that Smith had a bad stutter when he was growing up and that the other children mocked him. Larry Butler Sr., Smith's uncle, testified that when Smith was young he was shy, quiet, and had a speech problem. Ed.2d 674 (1984); Ex parte Lawley, 512 So.2d 1370, 1372 (Ala.1987).“Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential. She testified that Smith stuttered until he was about seven years of age and that the other children made fun of him.
Both codefendants testified at trial and corroborated Smith's statement. Singleton also talked with Smith and his family members. I was so terrified, as bad as the charged case was, how do you make it worse? And I was terrified that in the course of developing that counter diagnosis, they would have the right to, at least, examine my expert and their expert, and maybe even introduce extrinsic evidence about this other abduction assault. Sims, that it was a road we couldn't even take a step down much less go the whole distance because of the risk that we would open the door to this other assault, and that was wrong. 214–15.)Lee Sims testified that he had been licensed to practice law in Alabama since 1971 and that he was appointed to represent Smith in 1995.
He also said that Smith had problems with his speech when he was growing up.
Chowon Smith, Smith's half-brother, testified that he helped Smith study for his GED.
An evidentiary hearing was conducted in July 2005 at which time the State objected to the second amended petition. The coroner testified that Brooks had been shot in the head and the stomach and that there was soot in her lungs and trachea; he testified that she died of the ‘shots to the head [and] the chest and possible asphyxiation and burning.’“Smith handwrote the following confession for the police:“ ‘Kim came to the house around a.m. She sa[id], “I'm going to say Corey shot me.” We returned back to Bibb Town, and Sanjay drop us off—dropped us off. At the time that he was appointed, he said, he had participated in eight previous capital-murder trials.
He filed amended petitions in September 2002 and in July 2005. In December 2007, the circuit court conducted a second evidentiary hearing and in December 2008 issued a 130–page order denying Smith's second amended petition for postconviction relief. On Smith's direct appeal, we stated the following concerning the facts surrounding Brooks's murder:“On February 24, 1995, Tallapoosa [County sheriff's deputies] discovered the charred body of Kimberly Brooks rolled in a carpet; the carpet was lying beside a dirt road in Bibb Town. I asked her what would she say if I took her to the hospital. Singleton said that he works for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, that he teaches criminal law and capital punishment at Emory University and Georgia State College of Law, and that he was admitted to the Bar in Alabama pro hac vice to represent Smith.
Forte said that Smith's father seldom paid child support, that she often went to court over his failure to pay, that he was violent and frequently beat her, and that on one occasion he came to her house waving a gun at her.