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Williams v. Racette

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 15, 2014

RICHARD WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT STEVEN RACETTE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge.

Richard Williams filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent Steven Racette, Superintendent at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, moves to dismiss the petition as time-barred. For the reasons explained below, the respondent's motion to dismiss is granted.

I.

Williams was convicted after a jury trial in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, for murder in the second degree of Roy Evans and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Williams was sentenced to concurrent indeterminate prison terms of twenty-five years to life for murder and seven and one-half years to fifteen years for criminal possession of a weapon. Judgment was entered on March 15, 1995.

At Williams's trial, the State largely relied on the testimony of James Minor and Sharon Hatcher. Minor testified that he watched Williams shoot Evans, and Hatcher testified that Williams had told her that he shot Evans. Chanda Affirm. 2-5. A medical examiner testified that the trajectory of the bullet that hit Williams was consistent with Minor's account of the shooting. Chanda Affirm. Ex. PP, at 16. Minor and Hatcher, who had been arrested independently for selling drugs, received favorable plea agreements in exchange for testifying truthfully at Williams's trial. Pet. Ex. C; Pet. Ex. D. Minor and Hatcher were questioned at length about these agreements at trial. Chanda Affirm. Ex. PP, at 5; Pet. Ex. D.

Williams filed a notice of appeal pro se in the Appellate Division, First Department in October 1995. The Appellate Division granted Williams leave to appeal in forma pauperis and assigned him counsel. In September 1998, the Appellate Division affirmed the judgment of the trial court. People v. Williams, 677 N.Y.S.2d 761 (App. Div. 1998). Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on December 30, 1998. People v. Williams, 707 N.E.2d 461 (1998). Williams did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

On November 4, 1999, Williams filed a petition for habeas relief under § 2254 in this District. See Williams v. Walker, No. 99cv11065 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 4, 1999). The district court directed Williams to file an amended petition removing the unexhausted claims or to withdraw his petition without prejudice. On December 28, 1999, the district court dismissed the petition without prejudice to filing a new petition within the one-year limitations period.

On December 21, 1999, Williams filed a pro se motion to vacate his conviction pursuant to section 440.10 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County. The court denied the petition on January 27, 2001. Williams sought leave to appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department on July 8, 2002, which was denied on August 29, 2002. On May 21, 2003, Williams sought leave to renew his appeal, which was denied on June 26, 2003.

On January 9, 2004, Williams filed a second pro se motion to vacate his conviction under section 440.10 in the New York State Supreme Court. On May 13, 2014, the court denied the petition. On June 8, 2004, Williams sought leave to appeal to the Appellate Division, which was denied on September 9, 2004.

On January 14, 2005, Williams, pro se, sought a writ of error coram nobis from the Appellate Division. On July 14, 2005, the Appellate Division denied the application. Williams sought leave to appeal on August 9, 2005, which Judge Rosenblatt of the New York Court of Appeals denied on September 28, 2005.

On December 20, 2005, Williams filed a third pro se motion to vacate his conviction under section 440.10 in the New York State Supreme Court. The court denied the petition on December 22, 2006. On February 6, 2007, Williams sought leave to appeal to the Appellate Division, which was denied on March 27, 2007.

On June 26, 2008, Williams filed a fourth pro se motion to vacate his conviction under section 440.10 in the New York State Supreme Court. The court denied the motion on February 9, 2009. On March 12, 2009, Williams sought leave to appeal to the Appellate Division, which was denied on April 30, 2009.

On February 12, 2009, Williams filed a fifth pro se motion to vacate his conviction under section 440.10(1)(g) in the New York State Supreme Court.[1] Williams attached an affidavit dated August 12, 2008, from Everette Cruse, whom Williams had become reacquainted with while incarcerated at Great Meadow Correctional Facility. Pet. Ex. A. New York City detectives had interviewed Cruse in connection with Evans's murder, but the State did not call Cruse as a witness at Williams's trial. In his 1993 statement to the police, Cruse said that Williams had told him that "the [p]olice [were] looking for [Williams] about a killing, something to do with killing [Evans]." Chanda Affirm. Ex. MM, at Sub-Ex. B. In his recanting affidavit, Cruse stated that he, Hatcher, and Minor "got together [in] April 1993 and decided to use [Evans's] death as a means to get out of prison if we were ever arrested for anything" and that Cruse's 1993 statement to the police was untrue. Pet. Ex. A.

The State opposed the motion and included an affirmation from Mao Yu Lin, an Assistant District Attorney for New York County. In his affirmation, Lin explained that he met with Cruse to discuss the information in Cruse's affidavit. In the interview with Lin, Cruse stated that he had signed the affidavit submitted by Williams and that the information in the affidavit was true. Chanda Affirm. Ex. NN, at ¶ 17. However, Cruse denied that he, Hatcher, and Minor had plotted to frame Williams and denied that Hatcher and Minor planned to give false information to the police. Id . Rather, Cruse explained that he, Hatcher, and Minor considered their knowledge of Evans's death as a "get out of ...


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