The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Pro se petitioner Eddie Robles ("Petitioner") has filed a timely petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the constitutionality of his custody pursuant to a judgment entered February 1, 2005, in New York State, Supreme Court, Wayne County, convicting him, after a jury trial, of Murder in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 125.25), Attempted Robbery in the First Degree (Penal Law §§ 110, 160.15), and Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law § 120.00).
For the reasons stated below, the writ is denied and the petition is dismissed.
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
On June 24, 2004, Petitioner, who was twenty-five years old, his brother, Freddie Rivera ("Rivera"), and a group of five teenagers were walking by the Red Apple Kwik Fill gas station in Lyons, New York. Two of the teenagers, Xavier Chance ("Chance") and Trisha O'Sullivan ("O'Sullivan"), approached Carl Nortier ("Nortier" or "the victim"), a fifty-one-year-old man, and asked him for fifty cents. Nortier made a racially derogatory sexual remark to Chance. The five teenagers then overheard Petitioner state that he was going to "run [Nortier's] pockets." Petitioner approached Nortier from behind and punched him with a closed fist on the side of his face. Nortier fell straight back and cracked his skull on the pavement. Petitioner instructed the teenagers to "run [Nortier]," although no one touched him. When two of the teenagers went to call the police, Petitioner and his brother fled the scene. Nortier was airlifted to Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, where he later died from brain injuries sustained as a result of the fracture to his skull.
B. Indictment & Pre-Trial
Petitioner was indicted by a Wayne County Grand Jury and charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, Assault in the First Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, and Assault in the Third Degree. Prior to trial, the court dismissed the Criminally Negligent Homicide charge based on insufficiency of the evidence before the Grand Jury. Trial Transcript [T.T.] 9, 26-27.
Before the trial commenced, a Sandoval*fn1 hearing was held, wherein the trial court determined that, if Petitioner were to testify, the People would be permitted to cross-examine him concerning his prior convictions for petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, offering a false instrument for filing, and burglary. T.T. 21-24.
On June 24, 2004, at approximately 10:00 p.m., sisters Latasha and Iesha Streeter were outside of the Red Apple Kwik Fill gas station in Lyons, New York when Petitioner, Rivera, Phillip Godbold ("Godbold"), Chance, and O'Sullivan approached them. Petitioner asked the Streeter sisters for fifty cents to buy a "blunt." The sisters told Petitioner they did not have fifty cents. T.T. 211-216.
The record reveals that Nortier approached the group of individuals when the event occurred. He was coming from a bar and appeared to be intoxicated. Nortier began to dance in the street with one of the Streeter sisters. Chance and O'Sullivan approached Nortier and asked him for fifty cents. T.T. 217, 265, 269, 291, 293, 300, 340, 391. Nortier did not give them the money, and proceeded to ask Chance if he could perform oral sex on him. T.T. 393. Chance told O'Sullivan what Nortier had said and O'Sullivan told Nortier that he should leave. T.T. 393. Chance walked away. T.T. 397-398.
The Streeter sisters overheard Petitioner say that he was "going to get [Nortier]" and that he was going to "run [Nortier's] pockets." T.T. 217, 219, 386. Petitioner then approached Nortier and punched him on the side of his face. Nortier fell straight back and hit his head on the cement. Nortier did not move and blood was coming out of his head and ears. Godbold, O'Sullivan, and the Streeter sisters all heard Petitioner say, "run his pockets" or "run 'em," indicating that the teenagers should steal Nortier's belongings. T.T. 218-219, 279-280, 297, 319-320, 341. One of the Streeter sisters screamed and stated that she was going to call the police. In response, Petitioner told her "no, you are not." T.T. 220, 281-282, 320. The Streeter sisters ran to a police station to report the crime. Petitioner and his brother ran away. No one touched Nortier or went into his pockets. T.T. 222-223, 269-270, 298, 320.
Police Officer Kevin Costello ("Officer Costello") was at the police station, and was alerted to the attack by the Streeter sisters. At the scene, Officer Costello observed Nortier unconscious on the ground with blood coming from his head, and immediately called an ambulance. Officer Costello took statements from the Streeter sisters, O'Sullivan, and Chance. Petitioner was arrested later that night. T.T. 419-424.
Christine Mierke, the paramedic who responded to the scene of the crime, determined that Nortier had suffered serious head trauma. She arranged for Nortier to be airlifted to the trauma center at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital. T.T. 426-429.
Thomas Duval Smith ("Smith"), the Chief Medical Examiner for Monroe County, testified that Nortier died on June 21, 2001, at approximately midnight. Smith examined Nortier's body and determined that he ultimately died from blunt trauma to the head when he hit the pavement. T.T. 381-384.
Meaghan Belli ("Belli") testified that she encountered Petitioner at approximately 10:15 p.m. on the night of the crime and that he seemed upset.*fn2 T.T. 438-439.
Petitioner was found guilty of Assault in the Third Degree, Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree,*fn3 and Attempted Robbery in the First Degree. T.T. 603, 611. On February 1, 2005, Petitioner was sentenced to an indeterminate term of twenty years to life imprisonment on the murder count, a determinate term of twelve years on the robbery count, and one year on the assault count. All of the sentences were ordered to ...