United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.
Dupleasis (“petitioner”), proceeding pro
se, petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is incarcerated
pursuant to a judgment entered January 13, 2012, in New York
State Supreme Court, Erie County (Burns, J.), following a
jury trial in which he was convicted of felony murder (N.Y.
Penal Law § 125.25(3)). Petitioner is currently serving a
prison sentence of 25 years to life.
his conviction, petitioner filed a direct counseled appeal to
the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth
Department, in which he argued that (1)his conviction was not
supported by legally sufficient evidence; (2) the trial court
abused its discretion by permitting petitioner to be
cross-examined on certain prior convictions; and (3) his
sentence was unduly harsh and excessive.
December 27, 2013, the Fourth Department unanimously affirmed
petitioner's judgment of conviction. See People v.
Dupleasis, 112 A.D.3d 1318 (4th Dep't 2013), lv.
denied, 22 N.Y.3d 1138 (2014). The Fourth Department
found that petitioner's legal sufficiency claim was
unpreserved and, in any event, meritless. Id. at
1319. Specifically, the Fourth Department held that the
testimony of petitioner's accomplice sufficiently
established that petitioner was the individual who shot and
killed the victim and that the homicide took place during the
course of a robbery or burglary. Id. The court
further found that the accomplice's testimony was not
incredible as a matter of law and that it was sufficiently
instant petition (doc. 1) contends that (1) the evidence was
legally insufficient to support the verdict and (2) trial
counsel was ineffective for failure to make a motion to
dismiss for legal insufficiency. For the reasons discussed
below, the petition is dismissed.
Standard of Review
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) applies to this petition. AEDPA
“revised the conditions under which federal courts may
grant habeas relief to a person in state custody.”
Kruelski v. Connecticut Super. Ct. for Judicial Dist. of
Danbury, 316 F.3d 103, 106 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 2254). Under AEDPA, a federal court may grant a
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only if the
state court's adjudication of the petitioner's claim
on the merits is “contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,
as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,
” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), or involved an
“unreasonable determination of the facts” in
light of the evidence presented. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2).
Grounds Asserted in the Petition
contends that the evidence was legally insufficient to
support his conviction, arguing that the testimony of his
accomplice was incredible and that the evidence did not
establish that the homicide of which he was accused occurred
during the course of a robbery or burglary. As discussed
above, the Fourth Department rejected this claim as
unpreserved and without merit. The Fourth Department's
finding that the claim was unpreserved constitutes an
adequate and independent state law ground precluding habeas
review. See, e.g., Richardson v. Greene, 497 F.3d
212, 218 (2d Cir. 2007) (recognizing New York's
contemporaneous objection rule as an adequate and independent
state ground barring habeas review); Switzer v.
Graham, 2010 WL 1543855, *4 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2010).
the Fourth Department correctly found that the evidence was
legally sufficient to support petitioner's conviction of
felony murder under New York law. See N.Y. Penal Law §
125.25(3). The evidence at trial established that petitioner
unlawfully entered the dwelling of, and forcibly stole
property from, one Donald Sanok while armed with a deadly
weapon, facts which established the crimes of robbery and
burglary. Petitioner thereafter shot and killed Robert
Robinson, who was attempting to thwart the robbery, in the
course of and in furtherance of the robbery. The facts at
trial were thus “sufficient to have led a rational
trier of fact to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”
as to every element of the felony murder with which
petitioner was charged. Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 321 (1979). This claim is therefore dismissed.