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Willie Jackson, Jr v. Robert

June 23, 2011


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


I. Introduction

Willie Jackson, Jr. ("Jackson" or "Petitioner") has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Jackson is currently incarcerated pursuant to multiple murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy convictions. F o r t h e reasons that follow, the petition is dismissed.

II. Factual Background

Petitioner originally was charged with two counts of murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree, and one count each of attempted murder in the first and second degree in connection with the killing of Lois Miller ("Lois") and Brionna Miller ("Brionna") and the attempt to kill Crystal Miller ("Miller") on March 4, 2003, at Lois's house at 267 Bissell Street in Buffalo, New York. Brionna was Petitioner's daughter with Miller. Lois was Brionna's grandmother.

Subsequently, Petitioner was charged with two counts of conspiracy in the second degree and two counts of criminal solicitation in the second degree based upon his instigation of a plot to kill Miller and Brian Stepp ("Stepp").

At a consolidated trial of both indictments, Miller testified that Petitioner came by Lois's home at around 11:30 p.m. dressed in a black skull cap and a long black leather coat. Petitioner said he had to drop off a tape, but he did not have it with him. Petitioner left, telling her he had left the tape in his truck, a White Jeep Cherokee, and would be back with it. He did not return with the tape, however.

Khali Peoples ("Peoples"), a friend of Petitioner's, related that Petitioner had arrived at Lois' home at around 11:45 p.m. that night. They were supposed to be going out for drinks. Petitioner appeared to be "rushed" and he said he had to "make a move". Petitioner wanted to know if Peoples had access to a gun; Peoples said no. Petitioner then displayed some cash and told Peoples he would pay him for obtaining a gun. At that point, Petitioner left, promising to call Peoples later. Petitioner did not call.

At about 3:00 a.m., Miller heard a knock at the door of her mother's apartment, followed by her mother's and Petitioner's voices. She heard her mother say, "Oh, Junior." (Petitioner was also known by the nickname "Junior.") This was followed by a single gunshot and the sound of something falling to the ground (Miller's mother). As Miller tried to get up from her bed, she was shot in the head by Petitioner. Brionna, who was sleeping in the bed with Miller, was fatally shot by Jackson. Bleeding profusely, Miller managed to crawl her way to the foyer.

Clarene Frank ("Frank"), who had come to the other apartment at 267 Bissell to buy drugs, stated that as she approached the house, she saw a black man dressed in a long black leather coat shutting the door behind him. The man looked both ways and ran away from the house.

Frank knocked on the door and Miller, bleeding profusely, eventually opened it. Miller said to Frank, "He shot me. Her father, he shot me." Scared, Frank ran away, stopping to rouse some nearby neighbors to ask them to call the police.

Responding officer Joy Negron ("Officer Negron") and her partner Jeffrey Giallella observed Miller prone on the porch, bleeding from the head and unable to speak due to the amount of blood filling her mouth. When Officer Negron asked whether Miller knew who had shot her, Miller, unable to speak, nodded her head yes. The officer continued to question Miller, but all she could make out was the word "father." Eventually, in response to Officer Negron's questioning about the identity of the shooter, Miller scrawled "J-AC-K-S-O-N, W-I-L-L-I-E" and the address "261 LISBON" in the snow on the porch.

The police went to the house on Lisbon where they spoke to Petitioner's sister, Evelyn Jackson, who described her brother's residence on Olympic and his vehicle. The police were able to find the house and truck at 336 Olympic. The truck, unlike other cars on the street, had no snow on it and the hood was warm.

Petitioner stuck his head out of an upstairs window in response to the police knocking on the door, but did not answer. The police ultimately had to break down the door, where they found a long black leather coat, black pants, and a black hat strewn about in an otherwise tidy living room. There were latex gloves and black leather gloves inside Petitioner's Jeep Cherokee. Later, a "Broncos" sweatshirt was recovered from a hole in the bathroom wall.

Microscopic particles indicating close proximity to, or contact with, a discharged firearm were found on the leather coat, the sleeves of the sweatshirt, the pant legs, and the leather gloves. Petitioner denied ever firing a gun, commenting that he did not like guns. He also denied having been at the Bissell Street residence in months.

During July 2003, while incarcerated at the Erie County Holding Center, Petitioner met a fellow inmate named Brian Talley ("Talley"). Petitioner told Talley that he had shot three people and gave certain details about the shooting. He said that he wanted Talley to kill Miller in order to prevent her from testifying. He also wanted Talley to eliminate Brian Stepp ("Stepp"), with whom he was angry for taking over his apartment and belongings after his arrest.

New York State Police Investigator Dorothy Jones ("Inv. Jones") posed as Talley's friend and potential hitwoman, "Sister Bishop."

Petitioner told Inv. Jones that he wanted Miller and Stepp killed. As far as the preferred method, Petitioner said that he wanted there to be no chance of survival.

Petitioner was found guilty after trial of all charges. He was subsequently sentenced to life without parole.

III. Standard of Review

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus to a state prisoner on a claim that was "adjudicated on the merits" in state court only if it concludes that the adjudication of the claim "(1) resulted in a decision 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 (2) resulted in a decision 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).

IV. Discussion

A. Ground One: Introduction of Inculpatory Statements in Violation of Sixth ...

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