United States District Court, W.D. New York
MARVIN J. SNYDER, Petitioner,
STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.
Marvin J. Snyder ("Petitioner") has petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is in state custody as a result of a judgment of conviction entered on December 21, 2009, in Seneca County Court of New York State, following a jury verdict conviction him of Gang Assault in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("P.L.") § 120.07).
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
On September 26, 2007, Adrian Porter ("Porter") hung photographs, in his apartment complex, of registered sex offenders who lived in the area. One of the photographs depicted William Meacham, who also resided in the complex. That evening, William Meacham, Stephanie Meacham, Brandon Meacham, Angela Wheeler (f/k/a Angela Meacham), and Petitioner (a friend of the Meacham family) all confronted Porter. William Meacham said to Porter, "You have a fucking problem with me, you little bitch.... [Y]ou posted pictures up about me." Porter stated something to the effect of, "I don't like sex offenders." Stephanie Meacham and William Meacham called Porter a "nigger", and started yelling, "[K]ill him, kill him!"
Petitioner, the Meacham family, and Wheeler advanced on Porter. Petitioner swung a beer bottle at Porter but did not hit him. Traminique Porter ("Traminique"), Porter's daughter, grabbed Stephanie Meacham's hair and struck Stephanie's face with her hand. Stephanie Meacham, in turn, hit Traminique in the head with her bat, and Angela Wheeler hit Traminique across her back with her stick or board. Petitioner then placed his knee on Porter, and Petitioner, William Meacham, and others hit, kicked, and jumped on Porter. As a result of the attack, Porter suffered severe head injuries, was hospitalized for several weeks, and underwent rehabilitation.
A Seneca County Grand Jury returned six separate indictments charging Petitioner, William Meacham, Stephanie Meacham, Brandon Meacham, Justin Meacham, and Angela Wheeler with first-degree gang assault. Stephanie Meacham and Angela Wheeler were each charged with other offenses relating to Porter's daughter. The indictments against Brandon Meacham and Justin Meacham were dismissed and their cases were transferred to Seneca Falls Town Court for a plea to a non-felony offense. Angela Wheeler pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault and was sentenced to 6 months of weekend incarceration and 5 years of probation.
Before trial, the trial court granted the prosecution's motion to consolidate for trial the first-degree gang assault counts in the indictments against Petitioner, William Meacham and Stephanie Meacham. Their joint trial was held before County Court Judge Dennis F. Bender and a jury, from October 19 to 29, 2009.
On October 29, 2009, the jury returned a verdict finding Petitioner, William Meacham, and Stephanie Meacham guilty of Gang Assault in the First Degree as charged in the indictment. On December 21, 2009, the trial court sentenced Petitioner, as a second felony offender, to a determinate prison term of 13 years plus 5 years of post-release supervision. The trial court sentenced William Meacham, as second felony offender, to a determinate prison term of 14 years plus 5 years of post-release supervision. William Meacham's conviction was affirmed on appeal. Stephanie Meacham was sentenced to a determinate prison term of 13 years plus five years of post-release supervision.
The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed Petitioner's conviction on direct appeal. People v. Snyder , 84 A.D.3d 1710 (4th Dep't 2011). On July 20, 2011, the New York State Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Snyder, 17 N.Y.3d 810 (2011).
This timely habeas petition followed in which Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief: (1) the trial court erred in consolidating the indictments of Petitioner, William Meacham, and Stephanie Meacham for trial; (2) the evidence was legally insufficient; (3) the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (4) the trial court erred when it denied Petitioner's motion for a mistrial on the basis that a medical witness's trial testimony was at variance with her grand jury testimony; (5) Petitioner's actions were justified because he reasonably believed that Porter was going to use physical force on him; and (6) Petitioner's sentence was harsh and excessive.
Respondent answered the petition, interposing the defenses of non-exhaustion and procedural default as to all claims except the insufficiency-of-the-evidence claim. Respondent argues that, in any event, none of Petitioner's claims warrants habeas relief, and that several of the claims are not cognizable on habeas review. Petitioner did not file a reply brief.
For the reasons discussed below, Petitioner's request for a writ of habeas corpus is denied, and ...