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Washington v. Napoli

November 10, 2010


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


I. Introduction

Pro se petitioner Daniel Washington ("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 December 30, 2003, in New York State, Supreme Court, Monroe County, convicting him, after a jury trial, of Attempted Robbery in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 110.00, 160.15 [4]), and two counts of Assault in the First Degree (Penal Law §§ 120.10 [1], [4]).

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The charges against Petitioner arose from a shooting that occurred September 27, 2003 at or near 24 Harris Street in the City of Rochester.

Petitioner was indicted by a Monroe County Grand Jury and charged with robbery in the first degree and two counts of assault in the first degree. See Resp't Ex. B at 5-6. Petitioner pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial.

Prior to trial, Petitioner moved to suppress physical evidence on the grounds that such evidence was the product of an illegal search and seizure. See Resp't Ex. B at 11-36.

A suppression hearing was held on August 25, 2003 before the Honorable David D. Egan. See Hr'g Mins. [H.M.] of 08/25/03 2-107. The testimony at the suppression hearing established that on September 27, 2003, at about 8:55 p.m., officers of the Rochester Police Department responded to 24 Harris Street after receiving a radio dispatch advising that a man had been shot there. Upon their arrival at the scene, they discovered pizza deliveryman Bulent Eroglu ("Eroglu" or "the victim") lying on the sidewalk, bleeding from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Eroglu told police he had been shot, but could not identify the shooter. Police also recovered a spent shell casing from a rifle from the area where Eroglu was lying. Medical personnel arrived shortly thereafter, and the victim was removed from the scene. H.M. 4-8.

Jarvis Williams ("Williams"), a resident of the apartment building at 24 Harris Street who was returning home just prior to the shooting, told police that he had seen three men on the porch of a nearby vacant house. Before Williams entered his apartment building, he saw one of the men walk away from the porch of the vacant house. He also saw Eroglu arrive at 24 Harris Street to deliver a pizza. Shortly after Williams entered his apartment, he heard what sounded like a gunshot and looked out his window to see two men running from the scene towards Huntington Park (a street that intersects with Harris Street), and Eroglu lying on the ground. H.M. 8-10.

While police were canvassing the area, one of the local residents approached Officer Pearce and indicated to him that three days earlier he had seen three "younger" Hispanic males playing with a rifle in a garage on Huntington Park across the street from 24 Harris Street. The police then crossed the street and entered the garage on Huntington Park, which had no door and was otherwise open except for a tarp that covered about half of the opening. A car was parked in the garage, and inside the car police discovered Christopher Schuknecht ("Schuknecht") crouched down in the backseat. Police also observed a rifle on the floor in the front of the car and a rifle bullet in the backseat. Police then obtained a search warrant to seize the rifle and the bullet. H.M. 27-57.

Following the suppression hearing, the hearing court denied Petitioner's motion to suppress the physical evidence, ruling that Petitioner failed to establish standing to contest the search of the garage and the seizure of the rifle and bullet, and, in any event, the search and seizure were warranted by exigent circumstances. H.M. 104-107.

At trial, Schuknecht testified against Petitioner and the rifle and bullet were linked to Petitioner and the shooting. Petitioner was found guilty and sentenced to concurrent determinate terms of imprisonment of fifteen years for the attempted robbery conviction and twenty-five years for each of the assault convictions. Sentencing Mins. 18-19.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed Petitioner's judgment of conviction on April 20, 2007. People v. Washington, 39 A.D.3d 1228 (4th ...

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