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Antonio Cooley v. Superintendent

July 6, 2011


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


I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Antonio Cooley ("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 16, 2005, in New York State, Supreme Court, Monroe County (John J. Brunetti, A.J.), convicting him, after a jury trial, of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 110.00, 125.25 [1]) and two counts of Assault in the First Degree (Penal Law § 120.10 [1]).

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The charges arise from an incident that occurred on July 1, 2004 in the City of Rochester, New York, wherein Petitioner attacked Doris Collins ("Collins") and her daughter, M.M., with a knife in their apartment located at 231 Genesee Street.

On that date, thirteen-year-old M.M. was home with her mother and two younger cousins. At approximately 4:30 p.m., M.M. heard a knock on the door and her mother asked who was there. In response, Petitioner, whom M.M. had known all her life, answered "Ton" and her mother told him to enter. Petitioner walked inside the apartment and went into Collins' bedroom while calling for Collins to follow him. T.T. 247-249, 292, 408, 429-430.

When Collins stepped inside her bedroom, Petitioner grabbed her shoulder. When Collins asked Petitioner what he was doing, Petitioner told her to "shut up" and made a motion with his right hand, pulling it across her neck from left to right. Collins testified that Petitioner then cut her, although she could not remember what happened after the incident. She regained consciousness later at the hospital. T.T. 409-411, 415-416, 434.

Petitioner then came out of the room and told M.M. to put down her niece, whom M.M. had picked up when Petitioner came into the apartment. When M.M. refused, Petitioner "shot [the niece] down on the ground" and shoved M.M. into her bedroom, closing the door. Petitioner then forced M.M. to the bed and began stabbing her in the neck and back as he tried to remove her skirt. As he did so, Petitioner did not say anything. However, several months prior, he had told M.M. that he was "going to come back [to the apartment] and [she] better be ready to have sex with him." As Petitioner tried to remove her skirt, M.M. tried to move towards her dresser to get a pen to defend herself. She tried to stab Petitioner with the pen, but was unable to do so. Petitioner choked M.M. as she swung the pen at him. A struggle ensued and M.M. fell to the floor. Petitioner then left the apartment, and M.M. wrapped a towel around her neck and ran outside to a nearby hair salon where she collapsed. T.T. 250, 252-253, 264, 270, 273, 298.

Officer Jaqueline Pulsifer of the Rochester Police Department ("RPD") was directed to the hair salon for a reported stabbing. When she arrived at the scene, she saw M.M. on the floor of the salon being attended to by emergency personnel. Officer Pulsifer left to try and locate other witnesses when she saw Collins walking from an alley towards her as she stood on Genesee Street. Officer Pulsifer saw that Collins, who was unable to speak to her, had several "bleeding" lacerations to her neck and throat. T.T. 348-353.

M.M. was taken to Strong Memorial hospital where she was treated. As a result of her wounds, she had pain for approximately four days, and scars on her neck and back. Collins was also taken to the hospital where she remained for fourteen days. She underwent surgery for her wounds and a had a tracheotomy tube to assist her breathing placed in her throat. She suffered from scarring on her neck as a result of her injuries. T.T. 254-256, 410-414.

Petitioner was later arrested by officers of the RPD, and interviewed by Investigator Francis Camp. Initially, Petitioner denied his involvement in the crimes, telling Investigator Camp that he was "at Chester's on Chili Avenue . . . getting high on that day." Subsequently, he recanted and admitted his involvement in the crimes. He provided a written statement to Investigator Camp, wherein he maintained that he had gone to Collins' apartment to collect $50 she owed him and that Collins got angry and ordered him out of her apartment while charging at him with a knife. Petitioner maintained that he knocked the knife out of Collins' hand, picked it up in self-defense, and that both Collins and McCloud were cut in the ensuing struggle. T.T. 375-379, 381-384, 387-388.

By Indictment No. 000761, Petitioner was charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (Collins), Assault in the First Degree (Collins), Assault in the First Degree (M.M.), and Attempted Rape in the First Degree (M.M.). See Resp't App. A at 5-6, 12.

A jury trial was conducted before Judge Brunetti on January 6, 2005, at the close of which Petitioner was found guilty of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree and two counts of Assault in the First Degree. He was acquitted of Rape in the First Degree. T.T. 598-599.

Petitioner was sentenced as a second violent felony offender to twenty years in prison for each crime, with one of the assault sentences to run consecutively, for a total of forty years imprisonment. Sentencing Mins. [S.M.] 11-12.

On April 25, 2008, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction, and leave to appeal was denied. People v. Cooley, 50 A.D.3d 1548 (4th Dep't 2008); lv. denied, 10 N.Y.3d 957 (2009).

No collateral motions were filed.

This habeas corpus petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the following grounds: (1) legally insufficient evidence; (2) prosecutorial misconduct; and (3) the trial court's admission of Molineux evidence deprived him of his right to a fair trial and due process of law. See Pet. ¶ 22, Attach. (Dkt. No. 1); Traverse [Tv.] 6-10 (pages unnumbered in original) (Dkt. No. 10).

III. General Principles Applicable to ...

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