United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, United States District Judge
Mendez (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro
se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging that he is being
detained in Respondent's custody as the result of an
unconstitutional conviction entered against him on November
30, 2006, in State of New York, County Court, County of
Monroe (King, J.). As discussed further herein, Petitioner
has not demonstrated entitlement to a writ of habeas corpus,
and his petition is dismissed.
Factual Background and Procedural History
20, 2006, at about 6:45 p.m., Petitioner and two
acquaintances (Roberto A. Astacio (“Astacio”) and
Maximillan T. Garrison (“Garrison”)) broke into
the Rochester, New York home of Anthony Manella
(“Manella”), a 59-year-old painting contractor.
Manella also managed and trained boxers, and he had been
training Petitioner for about 2 or 3 months prior to the
incident. Wearing masks and carrying fake guns, Petitioner
and his cohorts tied up Manella's daughter and stole
money from her and Manella's wife. Astacio pistol-whipped
Manella several times across the left side of his head while
demanding money and gem stones from him.
point, Manella's daughter was able to yell out to her
boyfriend, who was standing outside smoking a cigarette, that
there were men inside the house with guns. The boyfriend
called 911, and, shortly after 7 p.m., members of the
Rochester Police Department surrounded the house. Manella and
his wife escaped down the back staircase to the second floor
where they untied their daughter.
surrendered immediately to police. Approximately one hour
later, Petitioner left the house with his hands up. The
police eventually found Garrison hiding in a crawl space in
the third-floor bedroom and had to break down the wall to
was taken to the hospital where doctors determined he had
sustained multiple fractures on the left side of his face as
well as permanent loss of vision in his left eye due to blunt
force trauma to the optic nerve.
was taken into custody and, after being advised of his
Miranda rights, he told the police that it was his
idea to go to Manella's house to steal marijuana from
him. Approximately three hours later, Petitioner gave a
written statement in which he admitted that he knew Manella,
knew that Manella had marijuana in his house, and that he had
gone to Manella's house with Garrison and Astacio to
steal marijuana. Petitioner stated that apart from telling
Manella's wife that he wanted their “weed, ”
he took no part in the crime and hid in the basement until he
left the house.
police recovered masks, a BB gun replica of a Smith &
Wesson automatic handgun, a hard plastic replica of a Baretta
92 model 9 millimeter pistol, a knife, body armor, and
several pieces of clothing at Manella's residence after
the incident. However, no fingerprints were recovered from
the weapons, and no forensic testing was conducted on any of
was granted as to all defendants. On October 25, 2006,
following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of one count
each of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault, and
four counts of second-degree robbery. On November 30, 2006,
the County Court adjudicated Petitioner a second felony
offender and sentenced him to the following concurrent
determinate prison terms: 20 years on both of the
first-degree burglary and first-degree assault convictions,
and 15 years on each of the four second-degree robbery
convictions. The County Court also imposed a five-year term
of post-release supervision.
appellate counsel, Petitioner appealed his conviction to the
Appellate Division, Fourth Department, of New York State
Supreme Court. Petitioner also filed a pro se
supplemental brief. The Appellate Division unanimously
affirmed the judgment on October 1, 2010. People v.
Mendez, 77 A.D.3d 1312 (4th Dep't 2010). The New
York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on February 24,
2011. People v. Mendez, 16 N.Y.3d 799 (2011).
April 20, 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to
vacate the conviction pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure
Law (“C.P.L.”) § 440.10 in the County Court.
Citing then-recent Supreme Court cases, Missouri v.
Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012)
(“Frye”), and Lafler v. Cooper,
132 S.Ct. 1376 (2012) (“Lafler), Petitioner
asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel
during plea negotiations. On July 10, 2014, the County Court
(Piampiano, J.) issued a Decision and Order (SR.340-45)
denying the motion without a hearing, finding that it could
be decided on the trial record. On November 30, 2014, the
Appellate Division denied leave to appeal. (SR.426).
timely-filed habeas petition, Petitioner claims that he was
denied effective assistance of trial counsel (1) during the
plea negotiations because his attorney failed to inform him
that his lack of intent to injure Manella was not a defense
to the burglary charge; and (2) at trial, because (a) counsel
erroneously raised a defense that Petitioner lacked intent to
commit first-degree burglary and (b) counsel failed to move
to suppress Petitioner's written statements on the ground
that they were obtained without Petitioner being advised of
his Miranda rights; (3) the trial court erroneously
denied Petitioner's motion for a mistrial after a police
officer used the term “home invasion” during his
testimony despite the trial court ruling precluding the use
of that term; and (4) Petitioner was denied due process when
the trial court arbitrarily refused to hold a hearing on the
C.P.L. § 440.10 motion. (Petition [#1], ¶ 12).
answer, Respondent argues that the claims are unexhausted,
procedurally defaulted, or not cognizable on habeas review
and, in any event, are without merit. Petitioner filed a
reply but did not address Respondent's procedural
defenses. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is
Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel (Grounds One and
Ineffectiveness During Plea ...