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Grass v. Reitz

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 17, 2014

Lloyd Grass, Petitioner - Appellant
v.
Robert Reitz, Respondent - Appellee

Submitted, January 16, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Lloyd Grass, Petitioner - Appellant: Susan Kelsey Eckle, Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services, Overland, MO.

Lloyd Grass, Petitioner - Appellant, Pro se, Fulton, MO.

For Robert Reitz, Respondent - Appellee: Stephen David Hawke, Attorney General's Office, Jefferson City, MO.

Before WOLLMAN, GRUENDER, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 739

GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

Lloyd Grass, who is an insanity acquittee committed to the custody of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, filed a

Page 740

petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the denial of his state-court application for unconditional release. His habeas petition was dismissed for failure to exhaust state remedies. We reversed the dismissal and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court[1] denied Grass's petition on the merits. Grass appeals from the district court's denial. We affirm.

I. Background

The facts underlying this dispute are set forth in our prior opinion, Grass v. Reitz, 643 F.3d 579 (8th Cir. 2011), and the district court's memorandum and order, Grass v. Reitz, No. 4:07-CV-1726, 2013 WL 440572 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 5, 2013). We repeat the underlying facts here only as necessary to the instant appeal.

Grass stabbed his wife to death in October 1992, and the State of Missouri charged him with first-degree murder. After a mental evaluation in which Dr. Richard Gowdy diagnosed Grass with " Psychotic Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified ('NOS'), in Partial Remission," Grass entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The trial court accepted the plea, and Grass was committed to the custody of the Missouri Department of Mental Health pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 552.040.2. In 2004, Grass filed applications for both conditional and unconditional release. After a hearing, the Warren County, Missouri Circuit Court denied Grass's application for unconditional release but granted his application for conditional release. Both Grass and the State appealed. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Grass's petition for unconditional release. Grass v. State, 220 S.W.3d 335, 340 (Mo.Ct.App. 2007). The court concluded that, even though the circuit court had found that Grass currently was not mentally ill or a danger to others, the denial of unconditional release was appropriate because sufficient evidence in the record demonstrated a likelihood that Grass could become psychotic and dangerous in the future. Id. However, based on its determination ...


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