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Dasney v. People

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 19, 2017

MURDALINE DASNEY, Petitioner,
v.
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RICHARD J. SULLIVAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Murdaline Dasney, proceeding pro se, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging her conviction in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, on one count of attempted first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault, for which she was sentenced to concurrent five- and three-year terms of imprisonment, respectively. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the petition.

         I. Background[1]

         A. Facts

         Petitioner's conviction arose from a 2011 incident in which Petitioner, then a resident in a homeless shelter in New York County, stabbed a security guard in the chest after an altercation relating to Petitioner's unauthorized travel to a floor of the shelter on which she did not live. Specifically, on the night of November 8, 2011, security guards Desmond Odunze and Norma Santiago were working the 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. shift at the Washington Hotel, a homeless shelter in New York County. (Trial Tr. I at 40-42, 67, 115-117.) They were stationed at the front desk in the lobby area of the shelter. (Id. at 42, 46-48, 116.) Petitioner and her husband lived in a room on the second floor. (Id. at 57, 119.)

         Earlier that evening, Odunze saw Petitioner walking down the stairs from the third floor of the shelter (one floor above where Petitioner lived). (Id. at 90, 134.) He warned Petitioner that she was not permitted to go to the third floor, and Petitioner returned to her room. (Id. at 52, 82- 83, 120, 133.) Approximately one hour later, however, Odunze and Santiago saw Petitioner again walking down the stairs from the third floor of the shelter. (Id. at 53, 83-84, 93, 120, 146.) This time, Odunze told Petitioner that he would have to “write her up” for breaking the rules and going to the third floor. (Id. at 53, 92-94.) Petitioner replied, “I don't care, write me up, ” and “Go ahead, you can do whatever the [expletive] you want.” (Id. at 53-54, 95-96, 120, 133.) Petitioner then tried to kiss Odunze. (Id. at 53-55, 95-96, 120-22.) As she leaned in, Odunze determined that Petitioner was “intoxicated” because he “could smell from her breath” that she was “drunk.” (Id. at 54.) Odunze pushed her away, and she fell on the floor because “she was intoxicated.” (Id. at 54-55, 96-97, 122-24.) At trial, Petitioner testified that she had consumed three 22-ounce cans of beer that night. (Trial Tr. II at 166, 169, 186.) Petitioner got up and went to get her husband from their room. (Trial Tr. I at 56, 98.)

         A few moments later, Petitioner emerged from her room and started screaming for her husband “to come and get [Odunze], ” whom she claimed had hit her and was “trying to kiss her and wanted to have sex with her.” (Id. at 55-56, 98, 124, 138-39.) Petitioner's husband did not confront Odunze, even when Petitioner began to curse at her husband, and Petitioner and her husband eventually returned to their room. (Id. at 56-57, 98, 138-39.) Odunze then went to the front desk to write up an incident report. (Id. at 59-60, 101.) Santiago, who was already in the office area completing paperwork, called their building manager to report Petitioner's rule violation and to indicate that a report on the incident was forthcoming. (Id. at 59, 125, 144-45.)

         Petitioner later approached the front desk without being detected by Odunze or Santiago. (Id. at 60, 102, 126-27, 147.) When Odunze - who had his back to the open office door - turned to face her, Petitioner stabbed him in the chest. (Id. at 59-60, 126.) The incident “happened quickly.” (Id. at 102, 147-48.) After stabbing Odunze, Petitioner stomped her feet and said, “Bring it [expletive], I am ready for you, I am ready for you”; “[y]ou want any more[?]” (Id. at 62, 127.) Petitioner then ran into her room while Santiago called the building manager, Jae London, who in turn called the police. London arrived at the shelter shortly thereafter. (Id. at 62, 127, 148, 152, 155, 170-71.) When London asked Petitioner why she had stabbed Odunze, Petitioner replied, in a “nonchalant” manner, that she did not know the reason why, and she “kind of shrugged her shoulders.” (Id. at 155.) A police officer, Alvin Rivera, later arrived at the shelter and visited Petitioner's room, where Petitioner was sitting on the bed. (Trial Tr. II at 22-26.) Officer Rivera asked Petitioner about the location of the knife, and Petitioner replied, “What knife?” and acted “as if she didn't know what [Rivera] was talking about.” (Id. at 26.) After asking Petitioner to step out of the room, Officer Rivera quickly looked around the room for the knife but could not find it. (Id. at 27, 51-53.) Officer Rivera then arrested Petitioner. (Id. at 27.)

         Paramedics brought Odunze to the trauma center at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. (Id. at 63-64, 110.) There, Odunze was treated by, among others, Dr. Barbara Wexelman, who was the chief surgical resident at St. Luke's Roosevelt. (Id. at 97, 99-106.) After determining that Odunze had not sustained any injuries to his vital organs, Dr. Wexelman stapled the stab wound closed and released Odunze after approximately 36 hours of observation and testing. (Id. at 101-05, 108-10, 112-15.) As a result of the stabbing, Odunze continued to suffer some residual pain; he also sustained a one-inch scar that he displayed to the jury at trial. (Trial Tr. I at 61, 63.)

         Approximately one or two months after the stabbing, Washington Hotel homeless shelter staff alerted London, the building manager, that they had found a knife in the back yard of the shelter. (Trial Tr. I at 156-57, 167, 169-70.) London sent a photo of the knife to Odunze and asked him whether it resembled the knife that Petitioner had used to stab him. (Id. at 105-06, 169- 70.) When Odunze confirmed that the knife in the photo was the knife that Petitioner had used to stab him, London turned it over to the police. (Id. at 105-06, 169-70.)

         B. Procedural History

         1. Trial Court Proceedings

         Trial commenced in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, on September 6, 2012. (Id. at 1.) At trial, the prosecution called Odunze (id. at 36), Santiago (id. at 114), London (id. at 149), an EMT who treated Odunze (Trial Tr. II at 5), Officer Rivera (id. at 18), and Dr. Wexelman (id. at 96); the defense called an investigator with the Legal Aid Society (id. at 129) and Petitioner (id. at 143). On September 17, 2012, the jury found Petitioner not guilty of attempted second-degree murder, but guilty of attempted first-degree assault and second-degree assault. (Id. at 340-42.) On October 22, 2012, the trial court sentenced ...


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