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Manuel v. Conway

May 25, 2010

TERRY T. MANUEL, 04-B-0932, PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES T. CONWAY, SUPERINTENDENT, RESPONDENT.



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

ORDER

I. Introduction

Petitioner Terry Manuel ("petitioner"), proceeding pro se, has filed a timely petition for 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)) for the stabbing death of Michael Lahey ("the victim"). Petitioner's judgment of conviction was entered on April 2, 2004, following a jury trial before Judge John. J. Connell in Monroe County Court.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

On Memorial Day weekend in 2002, petitioner and William Briggs ("Briggs") drove to the City of Rochester in petitioner's truck with a total of $2,400 in cash, to use in their pursuit of drugs and women. After picking up a woman at approximately 6:00 a.m., the three went to the victim's apartment at 500 1/2 Lyell Avenue to buy drugs, which was known to be a "crack house" and a "flop house" for prostitutes, where they all partook in smoking cocaine until noon.

T. 206-220, 225-26, 543-47.*fn1

Two weeks later, Briggs and petitioner returned to 500 1/2 Lyell Avenue to purchase drugs. Petitioner obtained cocaine, which he and Briggs smoked. Sometime thereafter, Briggs heard a "commotion" in another room in the house. He observed petitioner stabbing the victim repeatedly, and unsuccessfully attempted to restrain petitioner. Briggs then rushed to exit the house, followed by petitioner, and the two drove off in petitioner's truck. An autopsy revealed that the victim suffered 117 stab wounds. T. 354, 547-576. Petitioner was later charged in Monroe County Court with second-degree murder under the alternative theories of intentional and depraved-indifference murder.

A jury trial was held over eight days in February, 2004. The theory of petitioner's defense was that he had no motive to kill the victim, but that others in the house did.*fn2 T. 884-916. Petitioner did not present any witnesses, nor did he testify on his own behalf. The jury found petitioner guilty of intentional murder and he was subsequently sentenced to twenty-five years to life imprisonment. T. 980, S. 20.

Through counsel, petitioner raised four points in his direct appeal to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department: (1) petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial; (2) prosecutorial misconduct on summation; (3) the trial court erroneously submitted intentional and depraved indifference murder charges to the jury; and (4) a violation of his right to counsel at an investigatory line-up. See Respondent's Appendix ("Appx.") at B. He raised a fifth point in a pro se supplemental brief, alleging that he had been denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. See Pro Se Appellate Br., No. 0567/2002, dated 1/26/2007.*fn3 The Fourth Department unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction. People v. Manuel, 39 A.D.3d 1185 (4th Dept. 2007); lv. denied, 9 N.Y.3d 878 (2007).

Petitioner then brought a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. #1). Therein, petitioner raises the same grounds as he did on direct appeal. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that petitioner is not entitled to writ, and the petition is dismissed.

III. Discussion

A. General Principles Applicable to Federal Habeas Review

1. Standard of Review

The standard of review is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 110 Stat. 1214, as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Under AEDPA, a habeas petition challenging a state court conviction may not be granted unless the state court acted in a way that was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or that "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (2). "Clearly established federal law" "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). Factual determinations made by State courts are "presumed to be correct," and a habeas petitioner bears "the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 240 (2005) (holding that the standard for rebutting the presumption of correctness is "demanding but not insatiable" (citing Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003)).

B. Merits of the Petition

1. Constitutional Right to a ...


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