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Johnson v. Kirkpatrick

March 22, 2010

RODERICK JOHNSON, PETITIONER,
v.
ROBERT KIRKPATRICK, SUPERINTENDENT, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pro se petitioner Roderick Johnson ("Petitioner") filed this timely petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his conviction of Murder in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal L. § 125.25[1]; 20.00), entered March 25, 2002, in Monroe County Court, following a jury trial before Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.

For the reasons stated below, habeas relief is denied and the petition is dismissed.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Just before noon on Friday, October 6, 2000, Petitioner and co-defendant, Yancy Wearen ("Wearen"), repeatedly shot Felton Henderson ("Henderson" or "the victim"), causing his death, at Ravine Avenue and Tacoma Street in Rochester, New York.

Several eyewitnesses were present at the scene, who provided descriptions of two or three persons they thought had been involved in the shooting. In particular, Devon Burroughs ("Burroughs"), the victim's brother, testified that he saw Petitioner draw a gun "from the front of him," and aim and fire it at the victim. Burroughs further testified that after the victim was "hit," the victim stumbled to the ground. Burroughs then ran away. T. 835-836.*fn1

Reports of a shooting on Tacoma Street, along with a description of three black males and their clothing (one wearing a silver bubble coat, one wearing a red coat, and one wearing a black and red flannel plaid coat with a gold chain and medallion around his neck) was communicated over police radio. Rochester Police Officer Michael Marcano ("Marcano") was working at a truancy center on Backus Street when he observed three black males who matched the broadcast description walking southbound through an open field. Marcano advised the dispatcher that he had three suspects in sight. When Marcano approached the youths, they ran. T. 788-796.

Shortly thereafter, Petitioner and Wearen were apprehended at 41 Phelps Avenue. T. 1039-1041.

At the scene of the shooting, police recovered shell casings from weapons of two different calibers, indicating that two guns were used in the shooting. T. 1086-1087. An autopsy performed on the victim indicated four entrance wounds and one exit wound. Fragments extracted from the victim's body were then sent to the Monroe County Public Safety Laboratory for examination, which concluded that the fragments came from separate weapons. T. 1196-1203, 1210-1215.

A jury found Petitioner and Wearen guilty of intentional murder. Petitioner was subsequently sentenced to twenty-five years to life imprisonment. S. 6-8.

Petitioner appealed the judgment of conviction to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, raising the following issues: (1) that the trial court improperly refused to give a circumstantial evidence charge; (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (3) that the trial court erred in failing to direct the People to disclose, as Brady material, the name of the individual who disposed of the murder weapon; (4) Petitioner's suppression motion should have been granted because he was arrested without probable cause; and (5) insufficiency of the evidence. See Petitioner's Brief on Appeal, Points I-V. Petitioner's judgment of conviction was unanimously affirmed. People v. Johnson, 21 A.D.3d 1395 (4th Dept. 2005); lv. denied, 5 N.Y.3d 883 (2005).

Petitioner brought the instant habeas petition, wherein he seeks relief on the following grounds: (1) that the trial court improperly refused to give a circumstantial evidence charge; (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (3) a Brady violation; and (4) insufficiency of the evidence. See Petition [Pet.] ¶12A-D (Dkt. #1). All of Petitioner's claims are exhausted and properly before the Court.

III. General Principles Applicable to ...


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