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Arriaga v. Walsh

December 27, 2005

CARLOS ARRIAGA PLAINTIFF,
v.
JIM WALSH DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Trager, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Petitioner, Carlos Arriaga, filed the above captioned case pro se on May 29, 2003 in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. By order dated June 9, 2003, the petition was transferred to this Court. Carlos Arriaga seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for an alleged constitutional violation stemming from his state court convictions for murder and criminal possession of a weapon. For the reasons stated below, this petition is denied.

Background

(1)

Carlos Arriaga pleaded guilty to the February 6, 1999 murder of Jose del Carmen Feliz, a livery cab driver based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The factual background that follows relies on the trial court's opinion rendered on November 5, 2000 at the close of its suppression hearing.

Carlos Arriaga spent the early morning hours prior to the murder at a local bar drinking and playing pool with his siblings, Steven and Linda Arriaga, and his friend Obrayan Dones. During the course of the evening petitioner, Steven Arriaga and Obrayan Dones decided to rob a livery cab driver.

To that end, the group left the bar at around 7:30 a.m. and walked to the base of a local car service company. They requested a car from the dispatcher, Francisco Gonzalez, who directed them to Feliz' car parked out front. The four entered the car and first directed the driver to petitioner's sister's house. After dropping off their sister, the Arriaga brothers and Dones instructed Feliz to take them to another bar on the corner of North 3rd and Berry Streets. Just as the car approached the location, Carlos Arriaga pulled out a revolver and shot Feliz in the back of the head.

The car crashed and the Arriaga brothers and Dones fled the scene. They ran from the car to their friend Vincent Vazquez' house, where they showered and threw away their bloodstained clothes.

(2)

The police began its investigation the afternoon of the murder by canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses. The police began to focus on the Arriaga brothers after an anonymous informant, who had heard that a woman and two younger men who appeared to be twins had been at a bar the night before, provided the investigating officers with their first names and address.

The informant's tip was corroborated later that morning when the investigating officers visited the livery car company that had employed Feliz. Francisco Gonzalez, the dispatcher, told the police that two Hispanic males, who appeared to be twins, had come to the company's base with a Hispanic female to get a car around 7:25 that morning. The dispatcher later identified Carlos Arriaga in a photo array. (Hr'g Tr. at 67.)

Based on this information, at 2:15 a.m. the day after the murder, six detectives and a sergeant surrounded the Arriaga's building to effect an arrest. Id. The officers, who proceeded without a warrant, found Carlos Arriaga at home and willing to accompany them to the precinct. Id.

At the station house, a detective told Arriaga that the police were investigating something that had occurred the previous morning on Berry Street and then read Arriaga his Miranda rights. After Carlos Arriaga read and signed the Miranda card, waiving his rights, the detective told him that he had reason to believe that he had been in the car when Feliz had been shot. Id. Carlos Arriaga admitted to the detective in a signed statement that he and his brother indeed had been in the cab. He then incriminated Obrayan Dones as the shooter.

Carlos Arriaga then accompanied three detectives*fn1 and a sergeant to the house where Steven Arriaga was staying with his girlfriend's family. Although numerous discrepancies arose concerning the precise facts underlying the police's entry and search of the apartment, the trial court issued ...


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