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Randy J. Hall v. Norman Bezio

March 26, 2012

RANDY J. HALL, PETITIONER,
v.
NORMAN BEZIO, SUPERINTENDENT, GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY RESPONDENT.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Randy J. Hall ("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 August 17, 2005, in New York State, County Court, Steuben County, convicting him, after a jury trial, of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 110.00, 125.25(1)), Assault in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 120.05(2)), Burglary in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 140.25(2)), Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 265.03(2)), Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (Penal Law § 140.00(1)), Petit Larceny (Penal Law § 155.25), and Tampering with Physical Evidence (Penal Law § 215.40(2)).

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Petitioner, along with co-defendant Jose Gomez ("Gomez"), was indicted by a Steuben County Grand Jury and charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (Penal Law §§ 110.00, 125.25(1)), three counts of Assault in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 120.05(2)), Burglary in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 140.52(2)), Criminal Possession of a Weapon in Third Degree (Penal Law § 265.02(1)), Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (Penal Law § 140.00(1)), Petit Larceny (Penal Law § 155.25), and Tampering with Physical Evidence (Penal Law § 215.40(2)). Petitioner was also charged individually with one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 265.03(2)).*fn1 The charges arose from a shooting and a stabbing incident that occurred in the City of Corning, New York on September 23-24, 2004. See Ind. No. 2004-316 at Resp't Ex. A.

Prior to trial, Petitioner's counsel moved to suppress statements Petitioner made to police following the crimes. After conducting a suppression hearing at which Officer Allan Salyerds and Investigator Wilford Peters of the Corning Police Department ("CPD") and Petitioner testified, the trial court denied Petitioner's motion in a written decision dated March 25, 2005. See Decision and Order of the Steuben county court (Hon. Latham), dated 03/25/05 (hereinafter "the Suppression Decision") at Resp't Ex. A.

On June 20, 2005, Petitioner and Gomez proceeded to a joint trial in the Steuben county court before the Hon. Joseph W. Latham and a jury.

A. The Trial

1. The People's Case

In the summer of 2004, Manley Morrow ("Morrow") was selling cocaine out of the home where he was staying. Gomez was Morrow's cocaine supplier. Trial Trans. [T.T.] 654-655, 1060-1061. In June or July of 2004, Joe Comfort ("Comfort") and P.K. Rossman ("Rossman") went to the home where Morrow was staying to buy drugs. Morrow gave Comfort $200 worth of cocaine, and Comfort told Morrow that his money was outside in his car. Morrow accompanied Comfort outside, and Comfort quickly entered his car and drove away without paying for the drugs. T.T. 658-659, 672-673, 1066-1067. Following this incident, Gomez and Morrow discussed what had happened and agreed that Comfort "needed to be taken care of." T.T. 660-661, 1067.

On September 23, 2004, Eric Gridley ("Gridley"), who had been living with Morrow that summer and who had witnessed Comfort's drug theft, saw Comfort at a party held at Schreiber's home in honor of his girlfriend Yvette Vann's ("Vann") birthday and her friend Kristy Neally's ("Neally") birthday. T.T. 661-663, 670-671. At some point, Comfort, Schreiber, and Rumsey left the party. Gridley subsequently left the party, and told Morrow that he had seen Comfort. Gridley and Morrow then went to a dance club to find Gomez. T.T. 665-666. Gridley told Gomez that he had seen Comfort, and Gomez, who was with Petitioner, ordered Gridley to show him where he had seen Comfort. Gridley escorted Gomez and Petitioner to Schreiber's house. T.T. 667-668, 675-676.

By the time Petitioner and Gomez arrived at Schreiber's house, the only people home were Neally and Vann's young son. T.T. 887, 889-890. When Petitioner and Gomez asked for Schreiber and Comfort, Neally invited Gomez and Petitioner inside to await their return. T.T. 890-891. Vann and her friend, Michelle, then returned to the house. About thirty minutes after Petitioner and Gomez arrived, Schreiber, Comfort, and Rumsey returned to the house. Schreiber saw Petitioner in the bedroom, preparing lines of cocaine, and asked who he was. At that time, Gomez, who had been in the bathroom, entered the bedroom. T.T. 723-724, 896. When Gomez approached, Schreiber asked him who he was. Gomez asked Schreiber if he was Comfort, to which Schreiber responded in the negative. Moments later, Gomez punched Schreiber in the head, and a fight ensued. Gomez, who was armed with a knife, stabbed Schreiber under his left arm, in his left hip, and in his buttocks. T.T. 727-728, 731-732, 992-993. At some point during the fight, Gomez also stabbed Rumsey in his leg. Rumsey retreated into the bathroom to treat his wound. T.T. 940-941.

Meanwhile, Comfort, who had seen Gomez attack Schreiber, grabbed a lamp in an effort to join the fight. Before Comfort could intervene, Petitioner, who had a gun, shot Comfort in the shoulder. T.T. 729-730, 993-994. Comfort tried to grab the gun from Petitioner's hand, but Petitioner shot off Comfort's finger. As Petitioner continued shooting the gun, Comfort kicked a door into Petitioner and ran out of the house. T.T. 994-995. Petitioner chased Comfort outside to Comfort's vehicle, still firing his gun at Comfort. T.T. 942, 997-998. Chad Smith ("Smith"), who lived across the street from Schreiber, heard the gun shots and saw people come out of Schreiber's house bleeding. Smith called the police. T.T. 687-687. Petitioner and Gomez fled the scene.

Petitioner and Gomez went to Carl Humphries' ("Humphries") home nearby. They broke Humphries' door panel and entered his house, waking him. T.T. 1093-1096, 1104. Gomez washed the bloody knife in the kitchen sink. T.T. 1097. Petitioner and Gomez then started to leave the house, but returned and told Humphries that the police were outside. T.T. 1098-1099, 1145, 1155. A short time later, Humphries looked outside and saw a taxicab. He informed Gomez and Petitioner that there was a cab outside, and Gomez and Petitioner left Humphries' house and got into the cab. T.T. 1099-1100, 1146. Thereafter, the police stopped the cab, at which time Petitioner and Gomez opened the back doors and ran out of the cab.

T.T. 1100, 1114. The police chased and caught Petitioner and Gomez. T.T. 1114-1117, 1146, 1149, 1156. The police recovered a knife from Gomez's person. T.T. 1157. A gun was recovered from underneath a vehicle in the area where Petitioner had fled. T.T. 1119.

Petitioner was taken to the police station, placed in an interrogation room and handcuffed to a ring on a wall. Officer Salyerds sat in the room with Petitioner. T.T. 1184. At one point, Investigator Peters entered the room and asked Petitioner his name. Petitioner stated, "I don't have to answer that without an attorney." T.T. 1221, 1222. Investigator Peters told Petitioner that pedigree questions, such as name, address, and date of birth can be asked in the absence of an attorney. Investigator Peters then left the room. T.T. 1222.

Officer Salyerds was still in the room with Petitioner playing a computer card game when Petitioner began crying and said that he stabbed someone at a party. Officer Salyerds asked Petitioner if he wanted to make a statement, and Petitioner said that he did. T.T. 1186. Officer Salyerds informed Petitioner of his Miranda rights by reading them from a written form and by providing Petitioner the form to initial and sign. T.T. 1186-1187. Petitioner circled "yes" to each question asking if he understood his rights. He also circled "yes" to the question asking if he wished to speak to a lawyer. Officer Salyerds told Petitioner that because of his response to that question, Petitioner could not give a statement. Petitioner then stated that he wanted to give a statement. Officer Salyerds told him that he would have to cross out his original response to that question, circle "no", and initial the change. Petitioner did so and signed the statement. T.T. 1189.

Petitioner then told Officer Salyerds that he had been intoxicated at a party. He stated further that a fight broke out and he stabbed someone, after which he ran off, threw the knife away, and was captured by the police. T.T. 1190. Petitioner's statement was reduced to writing. T.T. 1191-1192. Officer Salyerds gave the statement to Investigator Peters. T.T. 1223.

Investigator Peters subsequently went back into the interrogation room to speak with Petitioner. Investigator Peters read Petitioner's statement back to him and asked Petitioner about the shooting. T.T. 1223-1224. Petitioner initially claimed that he did not know who had been shooting or who was the target of the shooting. Petitioner then told police that he had shot the gun after finding it on the floor. Petitioner then described how he removed the safety and placed a round into the chamber of the gun. T.T. 1224-1225. Petitioner, however, refused to discuss where he had ...


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