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Gumbs v. Brown

January 4, 2010

EDDIE GUMBS, ALSO KNOWN AS EDWARD A. GUMBS, PETITIONER,
v.
WILLIAM D. BROWN, SUPERINTENDENT EASTERN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Petitioner, Eddie Gumbs ("Gumbs" or "Petitioner"), petitions the Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons below, the Petition is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

On April 2, 2000, Ethel Bridget Feldman ("Feldman"), a 36-year-old nurse, was driving home from some friends and decided to stop at the Shinnecock Smoke Shop on the Southampton Indian Reservation to purchase cigarettes for her mother-in-law. (Tr. 482, 483, 484, 490, 494.) As she returned to her car, she was confronted by an African American male, about 5' 10" tall, with a raspy voice. He was wearing a red ski mask, which came down to his shoulders, a camouflage jacket, and blue jeans. As he approached, the man pinned Feldman to her car, told her that he had a knife, and demanded her money. (Id. at 485, 486-87, 503-05, 508.) Feldman did not see the knife. (Id. at 508.) Feldman screamed, attracting the attention of Christine Cuffee ("Cuffee"), the young woman who waited on her at the smoke shop. Cuffee later testified that she witnessed the end of the encounter with a man wearing green army fatigue pants. (Id. at 486, 487, 525-26, 529, 538.) The man pulled from Feldman's hand a wallet containing about seven dollars and some credit cards, and fled on foot. (Id. at 488-89, 530.) A short time after the robbery, Martha Arch ("Arch") noticed a blue minivan on a common driveway that she shared with her daughter, Melissa Walton ("Walton"), and called her daughter to inquire whether she had some friends over at her house. (Id. at 623-24, 716-17.) Walton said that she did not, but would go outside and look. (Id. at 624, 712.) She was met by her fiancé, Michael Knight ("Knight") (Id. at 558-560, 627, 722.) The van had decals hanging from the rear view mirror that indicated it belonged to a member of the Shinnecock Reservation. (Id. at 560, 627, 723.) Walton opened the van and found some papers listing the names of Petitioner's girlfriend and daughter. (Id. at 560, 720-21.) Arch, Walton, and Knight then discussed what to do with the van that they believed had been abandoned on the property. (Id. at 728-29.) They decided to push it back toward the main road. Suddenly, Arch, Walton, and Knight heard some rustling from the end of a brush area and saw a man wearing an orange-reddish mask, carrying a kitchen type knife in one hand, wearing gloves, and carrying a leather bag or pouch in his other hand. (Id. at 564, 569, 570, 627-28, 629, 650, 729-30, 32.) Walton, unsure of who the man was, but guessing based on the papers that it was Petitioner, yelled "Eddie." The man then stopped moving, turned around, and said "What?" (Id. at 630, 732.) At trial, Walton relayed the rest of the exchange as follows:

Q: And did you say anything more to him at that point?

A: Yeah, I asked what was going on, what was happening.

Q: And what, if anything did he say to you at that point?

A: He just shook his head and said, Nothing, nothing's happening, nothing, I got to go.

Q: And did you say anything more at that point?

A: Yes. He was walking towards the minivan, opened the driver's side door and was getting ready to climb up in there. And I said, I don't understand what's going on, what's happening. He was climbing into the minivan. He pulled off his mask and took the gloves and the knife and the leather pouch that he was holding and threw them into the passenger seat. And I said, Eddie, is someone hurt, is something happening? I don't understand. Do I need to call an ambulance. I kept asking him do I need to call an ambulance, is anyone hurt.

....

And I asked him, you know, was there anything that I could do. And he said, no. He had to go. I have to go, I have to go.

Q: Now, at this point, the mask is off?

A: Yes. We're having the conversation through the driver's door window.....

Q: And the person you were having this conversation with, now you can see his face?

A: Yes.

Q: And who is the person you are having the ...


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