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Willie Singleton v. William A. Lee

April 16, 2012

WILLIE SINGLETON, PETITIONER,
v.
WILLIAM A. LEE, 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 Willie Singleton ("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 July 15, 2008, in New York State, County Court, Ontario County, convicting him, after a jury trial, of two counts of Assault in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 120.05[2] (dangerous instrument) and 120.05[7] (while confined in a correctional facility)). Petitioner was sentenced to two concurrent, determinate terms of seven years imprisonment and five years post-release supervision.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

On October 29, 2007, an Ontario County Grand Jury charged Petitioner with two counts of Assault in the Second Degree. The charges arose from an incident that occurred on September 11, 2007, wherein Petitioner, while an inmate at the Ontario County jail, attacked another inmate, Donald Lume ("Lume" or "the victim"), striking him in the face and arm with a mop wringer.

A. The Trial

1. The People's Case

On September 11, 2007, Petitioner was an inmate at the Ontario County jail. Correction Officer ("C.O.") Sandra Allen observed Petitioner in a common area of the jail pacing back and forth. Trial Trans. [T.T.] 433-435, 441-442, 460. When C.O. Allen asked Petitioner what his problem was, Petitioner responded that "someone had taken his fuckin' aura and he wanted his aura back now." T.T. 445. Petitioner appeared agitated and stated that people were talking about him. T.T. 398, 445. C.O. Allen tried to convince Petitioner that no one had been talking about him and asked him if he want to "go out for rec." Petitioner declined. T.T. 446. C.O. Allen then suggested that Petitioner go to his cell and stay in it with the door locked. Petitioner told C.O. Allen that he would not do so. T.T. 447. Petitioner then stated that, "he was gonna take care of it right now." T.T. 447.

At that point, Petitioner walked into the janitor's closet where the cleaning supplies were kept. T.T. 447. C.O. ordered the unit to lock-down. T.T. 398, 449. Petitioner came out of the closet holding a mop wringer. T.T. 400, 408. C.O. said to Petitioner, "don't do this" and Petitioner began to walk towards her with the wringer in his hand. T.T. 449.

When the lock-down was announced, inmate Lume began to walk towards his cell. T.T. 399, 450. As he passed Petitioner, Petitioner raised the mop wringer above his shoulders and brought it down, striking Lume in the elbow and face. T.T. 401, 422, 450-451. Lume fell to his knees, screamed, and ran from Petitioner. T.T. 401, 422, 452. Lume felt severe pain and was bleeding profusely. T.T. 402-403.

C.O. Christopher Romano responded to C.O. Allen's lock-down order. T.T. 465-466. C.O. Romano observed Petitioner with the mop wringer and tried to calm him down. T.T. 468. Petitioner kept repeating, "I can't take it anymore." T.T. 468. Sergeant James Lyons approached Petitioner and told him to drop the wringer or he would spray him with mace. T.T. 470. Petitioner responded, "[g]o ahead and spray." T.T. 477. Sergeant Lyons then pepper-sprayed Petitioner three times and handcuffed him. T.T. 455, 474, 477.

Lume was treated for his injuries at the jail facility. He was later transferred to F.F. Thompson Hospital where he was given a partial cast for his fractured elbow. T.T. 405. Lume had to have follow-up treatment and physical therapy for his injuries. T.T. 405-406. Lume testified that he felt pain for two to three months and could not lift heavy weight in that time period. T.T. 406-407.

On the day of the incident, the crime scene unit of the Ontario County Sheriff's Department responded to the jail and photographed the scene and the mop wringer. The mop wringer ...


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