United States District Court, D. Alaska
ROBERT R. DORR, Petitioner,
EARL L. HOUSER, Superintendent, Goose Creek Correctional Center, Respondent.
K. SINGLETON, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
R. Dorr, a state prisoner now represented by counsel, filed a
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Dorr is in the custody of the
Alaska Department of Corrections and incarcerated at Goose
Creek Correctional Center. Briefing is now complete, and the
case is before the undersigned judge for adjudication.
27, 2003, Dorr was charged with first-degree murder, extreme
indifference second-degree murder, kidnapping, two counts of
first-degree sexual assault, and one count of second-degree
misconduct involving weapons after he shot his wife, Gail
Dorr, several times with a handgun, leading to her death.
Dorr also shot himself twice in the head, but he survived. On
direct appeal of his conviction, the Alaska Court of Appeals
laid out the following facts underlying the charges against
Dorr and the evidence presented at trial:
The Dorrs married in 1998, but Gail told Dorr in August 2002
that she wanted a divorce. Dorr suspected that Gail was
having an affair, but Gail denied it. After Gail moved out
the next month, Dorr hired a private investigator, Walter
Compton, to spy on Gail to see if she had a lover.
Compton videotaped a man heading toward Gail's new
apartment. The video convinced Dorr that something was going
on, and Dorr decided that Gail had falsely denied an affair.
On October 11th, Dorr bought a .38 caliber handgun.
On October 12th, Dorr staked out Gail's home. He saw a
man arrive in a truck and enter Gail's apartment. Dorr
recorded the truck's license plate number and gave the
information to Compton, who identified the driver for Dorr.
Dorr called the man's wife and told her what he had
observed. The man called Dorr and confirmed Dorr's
suspicions that he was Gail's lover.
Before 5:00 a.m. on October 28th, Dorr arrived at Gail's
residence with his handgun. Gail called her office and spoke
with Barbara Pelletier, a co-worker, telling her she wanted
to speak with Kevin Scott, Gail's supervisor. She told
Pelletier that someone was banging on her door and would not
go away. Pelletier thought that Gail sounded “very
shaky, very distraught and upset, panicked, ” but
Pelletier could not locate Scott.
Gail called back a few minutes later and spoke with Scott,
telling him that she was sick and would not come into work.
Scott felt that something was wrong because of Gail's
tone of voice, so he asked her if Dorr was there. Gail
answered that he was and ended the conversation abruptly.
Dorr and Gail left Gail's apartment with Gail driving her
truck and headed towards Dorr's house. As they passed by
a gas station/convenience store, Gail suddenly turned into
the parking lot, jumped from the moving truck, and ran toward
the store's front door. Dorr fired several shots at Gail,
hitting her twice in the back and once in the head, killing
her. Dorr then shot himself twice in the head, but neither
wound was fatal. Dorr was hospitalized and underwent surgery
for his wounds.
On the following day and fifteen hours after surgery, the
police interviewed Dorr at the hospital when Dorr was
medicated. The police returned the next day, October 30, and
interviewed Dorr twice more.
Dorr moved to suppress the statements he gave to the police
while in the hospital. Superior Court Judge Larry D. Card
granted the motion in part, suppressing the portion of the
second October 30 interview that continued after Dorr
“broke off questioning indicating he had spoken to his
attorney and the attorney told him not to say anything
else.” Judge Card rejected Dorr's argument that his
admissions were involuntary.
During the trial, Judge Card granted Dorr's request that
the jury be instructed on the heat-of-passion defense with
respect to the charge of second-degree murder. The State
petitioned this Court for review and we granted the petition
in part. We instructed the superior court to use verdict
forms that would require the jury to specify if the jury
agreed that the State failed to disprove Dorr's
heat-of-passion defense, and if so, to which murder charge
(first-or second-degree) ...