Marcie Ann Kirchheimer and her sister Cynthia Gray were driving in Cynthia’s car when they met Carlton Pope (defendant) and agreed to drive him to his home. When they arrived, Pope pulled a gun and demanded that they give him all of their money. When the women failed to immediately respond, Pope shot Cynthia in the head, and then shot Marcie in the head when she attempted to grab the gun from him. Pope fled, and Marcie was able to drive the car to the hospital, where Cynthia was pronounced dead and Marcie was treated. After the shooting, Marcie found that her purse, which had been in between the front seats within Pope’s view, was missing. Pope was convicted of capital murder. Pope appealed, claiming that he had taken the purse prior to the shootings and therefore should have been found guilty of larceny, not robbery, which would not support a capital-murder charge. The state supreme court upheld his conviction. Pope appealed in federal court alleging that the conviction violated due process because it retroactively applied a novel and unforeseeable interpretation of the capital-murder statute. The district court granted a writ of habeas corpus to Pope, and the state of Virginia appealed, acting through a state warden, J.D. Netherland (plaintiff).