Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville.
No. 3:00-cv-00764—Todd J. Campbell, District Judge.
Argued: December 8, 2016
Decided and Filed: August 10, 2017
Before: COLE, Chief Judge; BOGGS and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.
BOGGS, Circuit Judge. In 1986, Byron Black shot his girlfriend Angela’s ex-husband,
Bennie. Black pleaded guilty to malicious shooting and was sentenced to two years of
imprisonment at a Davidson County, Tennessee, workhouse. In 1988, while on a weekend
furlough from that workhouse, Black entered Angela’s home, shot Angela in the head as she
slept, and then shot nine-year-old Latoya and six-year-old Lakeisha (Angela’s children by
Bennie) once and twice, respectively, killing all three victims. Black returned to the workhouse
at the end of his furlough before law-enforcement officers discovered the bodies.
Black’s trial and post-conviction proceedings have spanned nearly thirty years.
Seventeen years have elapsed since Black filed the federal habeas petition presently before us.
The Supreme Court and the Tennessee courts have recently recognized limitations imposed by
the Eighth Amendment on the power of states to execute mentally retarded persons. But, for the
reasons that follow, these jurisprudential developments do not give Black a reprieve from his
sentence of death. We affirm the district court’s denial of post-conviction relief.