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Angela Dozier v. Superintendent Ada Perez

November 4, 2011

ANGELA DOZIER, PETITIONER,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT ADA PEREZ, RESPONDENT.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Angela Dozier ("Dozier" or "Petitioner") has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the constitutionality of her detention in Respondent's custody. Petitioner is incarcerated pursuant to a judgment of conviction entered after a jury trial on one count of depraved indifference murder and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

As a foster parent, Dozier was entrusted with the care of two young boys, Terrell and Terrance Parker. At about 8 a.m. on August 6, 2003, Petitioner discovered that two-year-old Terrell had stopped breathing. Petitioner called 911.

Unable to resuscitate Terrell, the ambulance crew transported him to the hospital for further medical treatment. Dr. James Reingold found that the child had extremely low blood pressure, low heart rate, and difficulty breathing, all of which were caused by massive internal blood loss in his abdomen. Because Terrell was not improving, Dr. Reingold sent him to the intensive care unit for emergency surgery.

Dr. Michael Caty attempted to surgically stop the blood loss in Terrell's abdomen which had been caused by a "significant crack" in the child's liver. Dr. Caty's efforts to repair the damage proved futile, and Terrell died on the operating table.

Dr. James Woytash, who performed the autopsy on Terrell, determined that the boy's liver was "pulverized" as the result of an extreme amount of blunt force to the abdomen. Dr. Woytash also found injuries to Terrell's scalp and brain which were consistent with blunt force trauma to the skull.

After Terrell died, Detective Deborah Beltz went to speak with Petitioner, who had been sedated and was sleeping in a hospital bed. Detective Beltz waited for two hours until Petitioner awoke, guarding the room and only allowing medical staff to enter.

When Petitioner finally awoke, she agreed to accompany Detective Beltz to the police station and discuss the incident. After an approximately two-hour interview, Petitioner signed a sworn statement which did not inculpate herself but mentioned her "Uncle Reggie" as having been present at the time Terrell's injuries were sustained.

After learning of the preliminary results of the autopsy, Detective Charles Aronica returned to the station and sought to speak with Petitioner, who agreed to answer additional questions. Petitioner was informed that the preliminary results of the autopsy showed that Terrell had been murdered. Detective Aronica told Petitioner that if she was not responsible for the fatal injuries suffered by Terrell, then her Uncle Reggie must have been. Petitioner broke down into tears, admitted that it was her fault, and stated that she wanted to kill herself.

Detective Aronica immediately issued Miranda warnings to Dozier, who agreed to continue speaking to the police. She eventually gave another signed, sworn statement to the effect that she "inadvertently" struck Terrell in the abdomen.

Petitioner's statements to the police were held admissible at trial. The jury found that Petitioner had, "[u]nder circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, and being [18] years old or more[,] . . . recklessly engage[d] in conduct which create[d] a grave risk of serious physical injury or death to another person less than [11] years old and thereby cause[d] the death of such person[,]" N.Y. PENAL LAW § 125.25(4). The jury also convicted her of the counts charging her with endangering the welfare of a child. She was sentenced to an aggregate term of 25 years to life.

Petitioner appealed to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction. People v. Dozier, 32 A.D.3d 1346 (4th Dept. 2006). The New York Court of Appeals denied leave on ...


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