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Thread: Roderick Leshun Rankin - Arkansas Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Roderick Leshun Rankin - Arkansas Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    Convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in a 1994 triple homicide in Pine Bluff.

    The facts surrounding this case are laid out in detail in Rankin I. The murders occurred in the early morning hours of December 27, 1994.   Based on the statement of Mr. Rankin's girlfriend, Sonyae Reynolds , who was hiding in a closet at the victims' home during the attack, Mr. Rankin became the prime suspect in the murders.   According to Ms. Reynolds, Mr. Rankin had repeatedly threatened to kill her and her family if she left him.   Moreover, she believed the assailant was Mr. Rankin because the assailant was wearing clothing similar to clothing worn by Mr. Rankin.   During the police interrogation, the investigating officers asked Mr. Rankin if he had kicked in the door of the victims' house and shot the victims.   They also asked him if he had experienced problems with Sonyae Reynolds;  whether such problems led him to commit the murders;  whether he was wearing blue shoes on the morning of the murders;  and whether he had seen blood on the shoes.   Finally, they asked him whether the gun that they had shown him was the murder weapon and whether he placed it at the location where it was discovered.   Mr. Rankin's response to each of these questions was a simple, “Yes, sir.”   He told the officers that he saw Zena Reynolds and her children on the couch when he first entered the house.   It was at this point that he started shooting.   According to Mr. Rankin, he shot Zena Reynolds first and then shot Ernestine Halford and Nathaniel Halford.   Although Mr. Rankin knew Sonyae Reynolds was also in the house, he got scared and left.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On February 9, 2006, Rankin's death sentence was affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court on state habeas. Opinion here:


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Inmate Personal Information

    DOB: 11/18/1975
    Race: Black
    Gender: Male

    Crime and Trial Information

    * County of conviction: Jefferson
    * Number of counts: Three
    * Race of Victims: Black/Black/Black
    * Gender of Victims: Female/Female/Male
    * Date of crime: 12/27/1994
    * Date of Sentencing: 02/13/1996

    Legal Status

    Current proceedings:
    Habeas petition pending in E.D. Ark; appeal
    to 8th Cir. on district court's order for a stay


    Billy Nolas
    Michael Wiseman
    Rebecca Blaskey

    Court Opinions

    Rankin v. State, 948 S.W.2d 397 (Ark. 1997) (remanding to determine whether Mr. Rankin's confession was given after a knowing and intelligent waiver of rights); Rankin v. State, 1 S.W.3d 14 (Ark. 1999) (affirming sentence and conviction); Rankin v. State, 227 S.W.3d 924 (Ark. 2006) (affirming denial of post‐conviction relief); Rankin v. Norris, 2009 WL 1973475 (E.D. Ark. July 08, 2009) (granting Rankin's motion for stay and abeyance of federal proceedings to seek exhaustion of claims in state court and denying Rankin's motion for evidentiary hearing on mental retardation claim).

    Legal Issues

    On appeal after remand (1999):
    (1) whether any alleged threat to detain defendant's mother and brother at police station until defendant confessed rendered defendant's custodial statements involuntary;
    (2) whether length or nature of defendant's detention at police station rendered his statements involuntary;
    (3) whether defendant's youth, poor reading level, and low IQ established that his confession was involuntary or that his waiver of Miranda rights was not knowingly and intelligently made; and
    (4) whether the evidence was sufficient to show that defendant was informed of his Miranda rights before he waived them.

    On appeal from denial of post‐conviction relief:
    (1) whether defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel during penalty phase of trial, and
    (2) whether defendant was entitled to postconviction review of challenge to aggravating circumstance that he created risk of death to persons other than victim.

  4. #4
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On October 8, 2010, the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Rankin's interlocutory appeal. Thus, the case remains at the Federal District Court level.


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