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Martin v. Rock

United States District Court, W.D. New York

November 13, 2014

DOUGLAS K. MARTIN, Petitioner,
DAVID ROCK, Respondent.

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Pro se petitioner Douglas K. Martin ("Petitioner") seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on the basis that he is being held in Respondent's custody in violation of his federal constitutional rights. Petitioner is incarcerated pursuant to a judgment entered against him on January 4, 2011, in New York State Supreme Court (Erie County), following his guilty plea to one count of second degree criminal possession of a weapon (N.Y. Penal Law ("P.L.") § 265.03(3)).

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The conviction here at issue stems from Petitioner's possession, on March 31, 2010, of a loaded firearm (a semi-automatic pistol) in a place other than Petitioner's home or place of business. See N.Y. PENAL LAW § 265.03(3). On October 26, 2010, Petitioner appeared before Erie County Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller for a combined Huntley, Wade, and suppression hearing at which multiple Buffalo Police Department officers testified about the vehicle stop on March 31, 2010, that led to Petitioner's arrest. A summary of the relevant testimony follows.

At about 7:30 p.m. on March 31, 2010, Officer Chojnacki heard about 6 shots fired while conducting a traffic stop on Bird Avenue, between Grant and Herkimer, in the City of Buffalo. A motorist informed Officer Chojnacki that she had witnessed shots being fired; "she looked in her rear-view mirror, saw a dark-colored vehicle, [and] couldn't tell whether it was an SUV or a minivan through [sic] her angle." H.5.[1] After Officer Chojnacki forwarded this information to Detective Harvey Frankel, he was not involved further in the investigation.

When BPD Officer Obed Casillas responded to the call of shots-fired at about 7:34 p.m., he encountered the victim, Jayquan Owens ("Owens"), who stated that the vehicle containing the shooters was a "gold colored Buick", that two of the individuals inside the Buick were known as "Brazzy" and "Hollywood", and that "Brazzy" and "Hollywood" frequented the Shaffer Village area. H.8-9. As Owens was speaking to Officer Casillas, Detective Frankel relayed this information over the radio. Owens stated that "Brazzy" had fired the shots and that the passenger-seat occupant was a black male with dreadlocks. H.10-11.

BPD Officer Jimmie Larke heard the call of shots-fired and the description of the suspect's vehicle as a "tan Buick" with three black male passengers. H.14-15. Within about 10 minutes of the call, Officer Larke spotted a gold-colored Buick Century with three black males in it on Tonawanda Street, about two miles from the location of the shooting incident. H.15-17, 24-25. When Officer Larke stopped the vehicle on Rano Street near River Rock, he found Petitioner in the driver's seat. The individual in the passenger-seat was a black male with "braids", and the individual in the back seat was a "medium-skinned black male". H.18. After Petitioner got out of the vehicle, Officer Larke observed that he had been sitting on a small gun holster. H.18-19. Officer Larke then placed Petitioner under arrest. H.21.

During the stop, Officer Patrick Morrow assisted Officer Larke in removing Petitioner from the Buick Century. He observed the empty gun holster on the driver's seat and "something shiny" between a visible gap in the door frame and door panel. Once the door was fully opened, a silver-colored semi-automatic pistol fell out onto the pavement. H.40, 42.

Lieutenant Michael March, the supervisor on the scene of the traffic stop, testified that a description of the vehicle and its occupants was transmitted over the radio, and that the Buick was described as a "tan vehicle". Lieutenant March supervised the show-up during which Owens identified Petitioner as the person who shot at him. H.62-63.

Detective Carl Lundin collected the pistol as evidence and questioned Petitioner at the police station. During the interview with Detective Lundin, Petitioner stated that he was known as "Breezy". H.81, 83, 86-87.

At the conclusion of the suppression hearing, trial counsel noted that the some of the police radio transmissions indicated that there were mentions of other suspect vehicles (e.g., a black SUV and a grey Honda Civic), differing in description from the tan Buick Petitioner was driving that night. Justice Boller granted trial counsel's request for an adjournment to listen to certain additional recordings to determine whether or not there were transmissions mentioning that a tan Buick was the vehicle involved in the shooting.

On November 29, 2010, the parties appeared before Justice Bolling. Trial counsel noted that the prosecutor had produced the radio transmissions referenced at the end of the suppression hearing, and that she had listened to them with the prosecutor at the District Attorney's office. Subsequently, trial counsel arranged for Petitioner to be been brought into the courtroom, and trial counsel played the transmissions for him on her laptop computer. Trial counsel conceded that, after fully ...

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