On appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department,
petitioner argued that he did not voluntarily, knowingly and
intelligently waive his Miranda rights prior to interrogation;
that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to
a jury trial; that the evidence presented at the trial was
insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; and that
the sentence imposed was excessive. The Appellate Division,
First Department unanimously affirmed petitioner's conviction
without opinion. People v. Coronado, 502 N.Y.S.2d 315,
120 A.D.2d 993 (1986). Leave to appeal to the New York Court of
Appeals was denied. People v. Coronado, 506 N.Y.S.2d 1043,
497 N.E.2d 713, 68 N.Y.2d 756 (1986).
After thus exhausting his available state remedies,
petitioner brought the instant petition asserting three
grounds for relief, as follows:
1) that he did not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily
waive his Miranda rights prior to police interrogation;
2) that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his
right to a jury trial; and
3) that his guilt was not established beyond a reasonable
doubt due to the weak and equivocal evidence adduced at trial.
To accept the report and recommendation of a magistrate to
which no timely objection has been made, a district court need
only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face
of the record. See Rule 72, Fed.R.Civ.P., Notes of Advisory
Committee on Rules (citing Campbell v. United States District
Court, 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir.), cert. denied,
419 U.S. 879, 95 S.Ct. 143, 42 L.Ed.2d 119 (1974)).
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) affords the district court broad latitude in
considering a magistrate's recommendation, even if no party
objects to it. Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2nd Cir.
1989). However, when timely objection has been made to a
portion or portions of a magistrate's report, the district
judge must "make a de novo determination . . . of any portion
of the magistrate's disposition to which specific written
objection has been made." Rule 72(b), Fed.R.Civ.P.; See also
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The judge may then accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
A district court's obligation to make a de novo determination
of properly contested portions of a magistrate's report does
not require that the judge conduct a de novo hearing on the
matter. United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676, 100 S.Ct.
2406, 2412, 65 L.Ed.2d 424 (1980). It is sufficient that the
district court "arrive at its own, independent conclusion about
those portions of the magistrate's report to which objection is
made." Hernandez v. Estelle, 711 F.2d 619, 620 (5th Cir. 1983).
To this end, the court must "exercise . . . sound judicial
discretion with respect to whether reliance should be placed on
[the magistrate's] findings." American Express Int'l Banking
Corp. v. Sabet, 512 F. Supp. 472, 473 (S.D.N.Y. 1981), aff'd
without opinion, 697 F.2d 287 (2nd Cir.), cert. denied,
459 U.S. 858, 103 S.Ct. 129, 74 L.Ed.2d 111 (1982).
In the instant case, petitioner filed timely objections to
the magistrate's Report. The Court has reviewed de novo those
portions of the Report to which petitioner has objected.
Petitioner, in his objections, has failed to raise any argument
that would justify granting the petition. Thus, the Court
hereby adopts the magistrate's recommendations.
1. Waiver of Miranda rights
Petitioner's first ground for relief is that he did not
voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waive his
Miranda rights prior to police interrogation. Petitioner claims
that he was suffering from mental illness at the time he was
interrogated. He relies on certain statements made by the
detectives at the suppression hearing, such as "he's
[petitioner] missing a few parts" and "he [petitioner] was
crazy as a bedbug." Petitioner also asserts that just before he
was interrogated, he swallowed five pills of mescaline. He
claims that due to his illness and ingestion of drugs, he
was impaired, and thus could not have waived his
Miranda rights voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), state court findings of fact are
given a presumption of correctness in a federal habeas corpus
proceeding unless one of eight enumerated exceptions applies.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).*fn10 The presumption of correctness
applies to factual determinations made either by a state trial
court or an appellate court. Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539,
544-47, 101 S.Ct. 764, 767-69, 66 L.Ed.2d 722 (1981). Although
a federal court is required to presume a state court's finding
of fact to be correct, it is also required to conduct an
independent review of any conclusions of law. See Miller v.
Fenton, 474 U.S. 104, 106 S.Ct. 445, 88 L.Ed.2d 405 (1985);
Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 429-30, 105 S.Ct. 844,
854-55, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985).
It has been noted that it is not always readily apparent
whether the resolution of a particular issue turns on a
question of fact or one of law. Miller v. Fenton, supra, 474
U.S. at 113, 106 S.Ct. at 451. Although Courts of Appeals in
other circuits have disagreed as to whether the determination
that a waiver was made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently
is a factual or legal inquiry, compare Bryan v. Warden,
820 F.2d 217, 219 (7th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 867, 108
S.Ct. 190, 98 L.Ed.2d 142 (1987) (voluntariness of a waiver of
Miranda rights is a question of fact entitled to a presumption
of correctness) with Ahmad v. Redman, 782 F.2d 409, 413
(3d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 831, 107 S.Ct. 119, 93
L.Ed.2d 66 (voluntariness of waiver is a mixed question of fact
and law subject to independent review by federal habeas
courts), in this circuit it has been held that a state court's
finding that a waiver was voluntary, knowing and intelligent is
a legal inquiry subject to de novo review. Toste v. Lopes,
861 F.2d 782, 783 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied sub nom. Toste v.
Meachum, ___ U.S. ___, 109 S.Ct. 3170, 104 L.Ed.2d 1032 (1989)
("[t]he validity of a waiver is a matter for independent
federal determination") (quoting Brewer v. Williams,
430 U.S. 387, 403-04, 97 S.Ct. 1232, 1241-42, 51 L.Ed.2d 424 (1977)).
See also Miller v. Fenton, supra, 474 U.S. at 113, 106 S.Ct. at
451 (voluntariness of confession a matter for independent
federal review). Nonetheless, subsidiary factual conclusions of
a state court must be given a presumption of correctness by a
federal court on habeas corpus review. Miller v. Fenton, supra,
474 U.S. at 112, 106 S.Ct. at 450; Ahmad v. Redman, supra, 782
F.2d at 412.
The inquiry into whether a person has voluntarily, knowingly
and intelligently waived his Miranda rights "has two distinct
dimensions." Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421, 106 S.Ct.
1135, 1141, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986) (quoting Edwards v. Arizona,
451 U.S. 477, 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 1883, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981)
and Brewer v. Williams, supra, 430 U.S. at 404, 97 S.Ct. at
First, the relinquishment of the right must have
been voluntary in the sense that it was the
product of a free and deliberate choice rather
than intimidation, coercion, or deception.
Second, the waiver must have been made with a
full awareness of both the nature of the right
being abandoned and the consequences of the
decision to abandon it. Only if the "totality of
the circumstances surrounding the interrogation"
reveal both an uncoerced choice and the requisite
level of comprehension may a court properly
conclude that the Miranda rights have been waived.
Moran v. Burbine, supra, 475 U.S. at 421, 106 S.Ct. at 1141
(quoting Fare v. C., 442 U.S. 707, 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560, 2572, 61
L.Ed.2d 197 (1979)).
With respect to the first dimension — that of voluntariness
— the focus of the inquiry is on the conduct of the police.
Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d
473 (1986). Coercive police activity is "a necessary predicate"
to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary.
Id. 479 U.S. at 167, 107 S.Ct. at 522. The fifth amendment
privilege is "not concerned with moral and psychological
pressures to confess emanating from sources other than official
coercion." Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 304-05, 105 S.Ct.
1285, 1290, 84 L.Ed.2d 222 (1985). Rather, the voluntariness of
a waiver of an individual's Miranda rights has "always depended
on the absence of police over-reaching. . . ." Colorado v.
Connelly, supra, 479 U.S. at 170, 107 S.Ct. at 523.
Petitioner claims that he did not voluntarily waive his
Miranda rights. The trial court found that although
petitioner's interrogation lasted for approximately nine hours,
it was not continuous. The detectives fed petitioner, let him
use the bathroom, and allowed him to watch television for an
extended period of time. It appears that petitioner answered
the questions freely, and was described by the detectives as
"always responsive." Presuming these subsidiary factual
findings to be correct, and having carefully reviewed the
record, the Court finds after an independent legal review that
no coercion or duress occurred, and that petitioner voluntarily
waived his Miranda rights prior to interrogation.
With respect to the second dimension of inquiry — whether
the waiver was knowing and intelligent — the focus is solely
on the mental ability of the individual. Perri v. Director,
Dep't of Corrections, 817 F.2d 448, 452 (7th Cir.), cert.
denied sub nom Perri v. Lane, 484 U.S. 843, 108 S.Ct. 135, 98
L.Ed.2d 92 (1987). In order for a waiver to be knowing and
intelligent, a person must understand and comprehend the right
in question as well as the consequences of abandoning that
right. Moran v. Burbine, supra, 475 U.S. at 423, 106 S.Ct. at
However, a full appreciation of all the consequences of a
waiver is not necessary for the waiver to be knowing and
intelligent. Oregon v. Elstad, supra, 470 U.S. at 316, 105
S.Ct. at 1296; Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564, 574, 107 S.Ct.
851, 857, 93 L.Ed.2d 954 (1987). Rather, the suspect need only
understand that he has the right to remain silent, the right to
request an attorney, and that "anything he says may be used
against him." Toste v. Lopes, 701 F. Supp. 306, 312 (D.Conn.
1987), aff'd, 861 F.2d 782 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied
sub nom. Toste v. Meachum, ___ U.S. ___, 109 S.Ct. 3170, 104
L.Ed.2d 1032 (1989).
Once it is determined that a suspect's decision
not to rely on his rights was uncoerced, that he
at all times knew he could stand mute and request
a lawyer, and that he was aware of the State's
intention to use his statements to secure a
conviction, the analysis is complete and the
waiver is valid as a matter of law.
Moran v. Burbine, supra, 475 U.S. at 422, 106 S.Ct. at 1141.
Petitioner does not dispute that he was read his
Miranda rights prior to the interrogation. He also concedes
that after the detectives had read him his rights, he stated
that he understood them and that he still wished to speak with
them. The trial court found that "the record clearly
established that the defendant was fully aware of the
statements he was making. He responded to questions in a clear
and rational manner." The trial court also determined that
there was no indication of mental disease attributable to
petitioner and that his ability to be attentive was unimpaired
by drugs. Based on these subsidiary findings of fact, the Court
determines that petitioner knowingly and intelligently waived
his Miranda rights. Accordingly, petitioner's first ground for
relief is rejected.
2. Waiver of jury trial
Petitioner's second ground for relief is that he did not
knowingly and intelligently waive his right to a jury trial.
He claims that the trial judge should not have granted his
request for a bench trial over the vigorous objections of his
attorney, and in light of the highly inflammatory evidence
that the judge had heard during the suppression hearings.
As previously noted, state court findings of fact must be
given a presumption of correctness by a federal habeas court,
and must be upheld unless those factual findings are not
fairly supported by the record. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). See Sumner
v. Mata, supra, 449 U.S. at 544, 101 S.Ct. at 767. This
mandate, however, applies only to matters of "historical" fact
and subsidiary factual determinations drawn from the historical
facts; it does not apply to questions of law or mixed questions
of fact and law. Id. at 545, 101 S.Ct. at 768.
The Second Circuit has held that a state court's finding
that a waiver of a jury trial was knowing and intelligent is
a mixed question of fact and law, subject to federal de novo
review. Matusiak v. Kelly, 786 F.2d 536, 543 (2d Cir.), cert.
dism'd, 479 U.S. 805, 107 S.Ct. 248, 93 L.Ed.2d 172
(1986).*fn11 See also United States ex rel. Williams v.
DeRobertis, 538 F. Supp. 899 (N.D.Ill. 1982), rev'd on other
grounds, 715 F.2d 1174 (7th Cir. 1983), cert. denied,
464 U.S. 1072, 104 S.Ct. 982, 79 L.Ed.2d 219 (1984); Phillips v. Murphy,
796 F.2d 1303 (10th Cir. 1986).
The right to trial by jury is "fundamental to American
criminal jurisprudence." United States v. Martin, 704 F.2d 267,
271 (6th Cir. 1983), and is explicitly protected by the
Constitution. U.S. Const. Art. III, § 2. Since the right is so
fundamental, it is not to be dispensed with routinely. Patton
v. United States, 281 U.S. 276, 50 S.Ct. 253, 74 L.Ed. 854
(1930). In order for a waiver of this right to be valid, it
must be "express and intelligent," Patton v. United States,
supra, 281 U.S. at 276, 50 S.Ct. at 253, and must comport with
the waiver standard formulated in Johnson v. Zerbst,
304 U.S. 458, 464, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 1023, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938). Adams v.
United States, 317 U.S. 269, 275-78, 63 S.Ct. 236, 240-41, 87
L.Ed. 268 (1942). See Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218,
237, 93 S.Ct. 2041, 2052, 36 L.Ed.2d 854 (1973). To be valid
under Johnson v. Zerbst, a waiver of certain constitutional
rights must amount to an "intentional relinquishment of a known
right or privilege." Johnson v. Zerbst, supra, 304 U.S. at 464,
58 S.Ct. at 1023. "Waivers of constitutional rights must not
only be voluntary, but must also be knowing, intelligent acts
done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances
and likely consequences." Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742,
748, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1469, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970).
In the instant case, petitioner does not contest the
voluntariness of his waiver of a jury trial.*fn12 Instead, he
directs his attack solely at the second dimension of the
waiver inquiry, arguing that the waiver was not knowing and
intelligent. In order for a waiver to have been knowing and
intelligent, the defendant must have understood the "nature of
the right" and the consequences of waiving that right.
Estrada v. United States, 457 F.2d 255, 256 (7th Cir.), cert.
denied, 409 U.S. 858, 93 S.Ct. 143, 34 L.Ed.2d 104 (1972). See
Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 243-44, 89 S.Ct. 1709,
1712-13, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969).
Waiver cannot be inferred from a silent record; there must
be "an affirmative showing that [the waiver] was intelligent
and voluntary." Boykin v. Alabama, supra, 395 U.S. at 242, 89
S.Ct. at 1711. The fact that a defendant has counsel is also
relevant to determining whether he knowingly waived his right
to a jury trial. United States ex rel. Williams v. DeRobertis,
supra, 715 F.2d at 1175. In the instant case, when petitioner
first stated his desire for a bench trial, the trial judge told
him to discuss the matter very thoroughly with his attorney
overnight. The following day, when petitioner continued to
insist upon a non-jury trial, the judge explained to him the
risks involved.*fn13 The judge told petitioner that he was
giving up the right to have twelve individuals decide his
case, and instead was depending solely on the court. The judge
also explained to petitioner that he had seen a lot of
material that normally would not be submitted to the jury.
Additionally, the judge pointed out to petitioner that he was
going against the advice of his counsel. Petitioner stated
that he understood all of this, and that he nonetheless wished
to waive his right to a jury trial.*fn14
Although a reviewing court might question the wisdom of
petitioner's decision to have his case tried solely to a
judge, it appears from the record that petitioner knowingly
and intelligently made this choice, informed by both the judge
and his attorney of the substantial risks involved. Under
these circumstances, the Court finds that petitioner knowingly
and intelligently waived his right to a jury trial:
While many factors might enter into a decision to
waive the right to trial by jury, and while an
attorney's advice concerning the matter may often
be followed by a defendant, given the attorney's
experience and expertise, the defendant must
ultimately decide for himself if he trusts the
judgment of his fellow citizens with his fate, or
if he would rather entrust it to the judgment of
a solitary state judicial officer.
Id. at 1180.
Petitioner further argues that the trial judge erred in
accepting his jury trial
waiver without making a specific and separate determination
that he was competent to waive this right. Although the judge
did order a competency hearing to "determine [petitioner's]
competency to stand trial . . . [along with] [h]is knowledge
and understanding of his ability to assist in his own
defense," petitioner claims that a stricter standard must be
applied when examining a defendant's competence to waive a
While a waiver must have been made voluntarily, knowingly
and intelligently, it must also have been made competently.
Johnson v. Zerbst, supra, 304 U.S. at 465, 58 S.Ct. at 1023;
Westbrook v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 150, 86 S.Ct. 1320, 16 L.Ed.2d
429 (1966). Petitioner relies on Westbrook v. Arizona,
384 U.S. 150, 86 S.Ct. 1320, 16 L.Ed.2d 429 (1966), to support his
assertion that a more stringent standard of competency applies
in waiving his jury right. In Westbrook, the Supreme Court held
in a brief per curiam opinion that there is a distinction
between a defendant's competence to waive the right to counsel
at trial and his competence to stand trial. Id. However,
the Supreme Court did not define the higher standard, and did
not direct the discussion to any other constitutional right
besides waiving right to counsel.
The Ninth Circuit in Sieling v. Eyman, 478 F.2d 211 (9th Cir.
1973), a guilty plea case, read Westbrook to require a higher
standard of competence whenever constitutional rights are
waived. Thus, that court held that the standard of competence
to plead guilty, and thus waive a jury trial, is higher than
that required to stand trial. Id. at 214-15. Other Circuit
Courts of Appeals, however, have rejected this reasoning and
held that the standard of competence is no different. See
United States ex rel. Heral v. Franzen, 667 F.2d 633 (7th Cir.
1981); Allard v. Helgemoe, 572 F.2d 1 (1st Cir.), cert.
denied, 439 U.S. 858, 99 S.Ct. 175, 58 L.Ed.2d 166 (1978);
United States ex rel. McGough v. Hewitt, 528 F.2d 339 (3d Cir.
1975); Malinauskas v. United States, 505 F.2d 649 (5th Cir.
1974); United States v. Harlan, 480 F.2d 515 (6th Cir.), cert.
denied, 414 U.S. 1006, 94 S.Ct. 364, 38 L.Ed.2d 242 (1973);
Wolf v. United States, 430 F.2d 443 (10th Cir. 1970). See also
United States v. Valentino, 283 F.2d 634 (2d Cir. 1960)
The Second Circuit has not yet addressed this issue in the
aftermath of Westbrook, but has suggested that a higher
standard may not be appropriate. See Suggs v. La Vallee,
570 F.2d 1092 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 915, 99 S.Ct. 290,
58 L.Ed.2d 263 (1978). Other courts in this district have
rejected the Sieling distinction. See Kelly v. Lefevre, No. 81
Civ. 0491, slip op. (S.D.N.Y. January 13, 1982); Sharp v.
Scully, 509 F. Supp. 493 (S.D.N.Y. 1981). This Court finds
persuasive the reasoning of those courts which have determined
that the standard of competence required to waive
constitutional rights other than the right to counsel is no
higher than that required to stand trial.*fn15 In any event,
the trial judge in the instant case made a specific finding at
the conclusion of the competency hearing that petitioner was
competent to waive his right to a jury trial. Thus, even were
this Court to hold that a more stringent standard of competency
should apply to a determination of competency to waive
constitutional rights, that higher standard would arguably have
been met in this case in light of the findings of the trial
court in that regard.
"A trial judge's `finding that a defendant is mentally
competent to stand trial satisfies due process when the court
finds that the prosecution has carried the burden of proving
the defendant's competency by a preponderance of the
evidence.'" Baum v. Leonardo, No. 88 Civ. 8181, slip op. at
6-7, 1989 WL 85786 (S.D.N.Y. July 25, 1989) (available on Lexis
at 1989 U.S.Dist.
LEXIS 8395) (quoting Brown v. Warden, Great Meadow Corr.
Facility, 682 F.2d 348, 353-54 (2d Cir.), cert. denied,
459 U.S. 991, 103 S.Ct. 349, 74 L.Ed.2d 388 (1982)).
Under a preponderance of the evidence standard of
proof, in order to find the existence of a
disputed fact in favor of the party who has the
burden of persuasion, a factfinder is required
only to find "`that the existence of [the] fact
is more probable than its nonexistence.'"
Id. at 352 (quoting In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 371, 90 S.Ct.
1068, 1076, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring)).
At petitioner's competency hearing, two psychiatrists who
had previously examined petitioner testified that they
believed him able to understand the nature of the charges
against him and to assist meaningfully in his defense. Thus,
each opined that he was competent to stand trial. This Court
has carefully reviewed the entire transcript of the competency
hearing, which consists of over 200 pages of testimony and
argument. The testimony of the psychiatrists is troubling.
Cross-examination by petitioner's counsel revealed that only
a few standard questions were asked by the psychiatrists
during the examination, and that in essence the substance of
petitioner's answers to those questions was irrelevant to
their conclusions of competency. The witnesses had absolutely
no independent recollection of the examination, which had
occurred only a few weeks prior to the hearing. One of the
doctors apparently indicated defense counsel when asked if she
recognized petitioner in court. Upon cross-examination,
neither witness was able to state with any degree of
specificity the basis for their conclusion that petitioner was
competent, or to suggest any answer petitioner could have
given, or any fact about him they might learn,*fn16 which
would have altered their conclusions. In sum, the transcript
of the hearing depicts a largely empty exercise in which no
meaningful cross-examination could take place.
However, petitioner offered no evidence regarding his
competency at the hearing. In addition, the trial court had
the opportunity to observe petitioner's demeanor at the
competency hearing as well as at the several prior proceedings
that had already taken place. Cf. Baum v. Leonardo, supra, No.
88 Civ. 8181, slip op. at 8 (defendant's demeanor at trial
relevant to determination whether competency hearing required).
Under these circumstances, this Court must conclude that the
prosecution did succeed in proving petitioner's competency by a
preponderance of the evidence. Accordingly, petitioner's second
ground for relief is denied.
3. Sufficiency of the evidence
Petitioner's final claim is that the evidence adduced at
trial was insufficient to support his conviction and thus that
his conviction is inconsistent with the due process clause.
Petitioner contends that his conviction was based solely on
circumstantial evidence, which was "weak and equivocal."
Respondent argues that petitioner's claim that there was
only circumstantial evidence is procedurally barred.*fn17
Petitioner did not raise this claim at trial. The prosecution,
in its brief to the Appellate Division, argued that the claim
was thus procedurally barred, but also argued that the claim
was meritless. The Appellate Division affirmed without
Where a petitioner has not raised an issue in state court,
"a procedural default does not bar consideration of a federal
claim on . . . habeas review unless the last state court
rendering a judgment in the
case `clearly and expressly' states that its judgment rests on
a state procedural bar." Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 109
S.Ct. 1038, 103 L.Ed.2d 308 (1989) (quoting Caldwell v.
Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320, 327, 105 S.Ct. 2633, 2638, 86
L.Ed.2d 231 (1985) and Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1041,
103 S.Ct. 3469, 3476, 77 L.Ed.2d 1201 (1983)). In the instant
case, the last state court to render a judgment was the
Appellate Division. Since the Appellate Division affirmed
without opinion, that court cannot be said to have "clearly and
expressly state[d] that its judgment rests on a state
procedural bar" as required by the court in Harris. See Matos
v. Senkowski, No. 89 Civ. 2961, slip op., 1990 WL 17680
(S.D.N.Y. February 20, 1990); Lopez v. Scully, 716 F. Supp. 736,
738-39 (E.D.N.Y. 1989). Accordingly, the Court turns to the
merits of petitioner's claim.
The standard of federal review of a habeas claim based on
insufficiency of evidence is well-established. A court is not
to conduct a de novo determination and is not required to:
`ask itself whether it believes that the evidence
at trial established guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt.' Instead, the relevant question is whether,
after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of
fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This familiar
standard gives full play to the responsibility of
the trier of fact fairly to resolve conflicts in
the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw
reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate
facts. Once a defendant has been found guilty of a
crime charged, the fact finder's role as weigher of
the evidence is preserved through a legal
conclusion that upon judicial review all of the
evidence is to be considered in the light most
favorable to the prosecution.
Jackson v. Virginia,