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Bonilla v. Keyser

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 20, 2017

Luis A. Bonilla, Petitioner,
v.
William Keyser, Superintendent, Sullivan Correctional Facility, Respondent.

          Michael J. Brennan, Assistant District Attorney.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge.

         Luis A. Bonilla (“petitioner”), proceeding pro se, petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction in New York state court. On October 20, 2010, petitioner pled guilty to manslaughter in the first degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.20, a class “B” felony. Petitioner was thereafter sentenced to a determinate term of twenty-five years' imprisonment with five years of post-release supervision.

         In the instant habeas petition (ECF No. 1), petitioner challenges his sentence on the ground that his sentence is illegal and unauthorized by law. For the reasons discussed below, petitioner's request for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. Background

         A. Facts

         The following facts are adduced from the instant petition and underlying record.

         On April 2, 2010, petitioner was indicted for one count of murder in the second degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(1), a class “A-1” felony, in connection with the stabbing and killing of Alex Ventura that occurred on February 27, 2010. (ECF No. 14 at 1-2.) On October 20, 2010, petitioner pled guilty in Supreme Court, Suffolk County to the reduced crime of manslaughter in the first degree, a class “B” felony. (Id. at 1.) Petitioner was sentenced on December 10, 2010. (ECF No. 14-1 at 13-17.)[1] During the sentencing proceeding, the prosecutor recommended that a bargained-for sentence of twenty-five years' imprisonment followed by five years' post-release supervision be imposed. (Id. at 14-15.) Counsel for petitioner agreed with the sentence. (Id. at 15.) The court then sentenced petitioner to the bargained-for sentence of a determinate term of twenty-five years' imprisonment with five years of post-release supervision. (Id. at 15-16.)

         B. Procedural History

         1. Section 440 Motion On November 24, 2015, petitioner filed a pro se motion in Supreme Court, Suffolk County to set aside his sentence pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 440.20 (“Section 440”). (ECF No. 14-1 at 1-7.) In his motion, petitioner argued that “the People moved the court to impose an illegal and unauthorized sentence of twenty-five years to be followed with five years of Post Release Supervision.” (Id. at 3.) He further asserted:

The People confused the maximum penalty for Manslaughter in the [F]irst Degree for . . . Aggravated Manslaughter in the First Degree since the statute's structure of Penal Law section 70.02(3)(a) was written in a complex manner where the elements of Manslaughter in the First [D]egree (a class B felony) are statutorily similar to those of Aggravated Manslaughter in the First Degree but differ in penalty.

(Id. at 3-4.) Petitioner requested that his sentence “be reduced to a determinate sentence of twenty years to be followed by five years of Post Release Supervision as statutorily mandated by Penal Law section 70.02 subdivision 3(a).” (Id. at 6.)

         The trial court denied petitioner's Section 440 motion on March 30, 2016, finding that the “sentence was neither illegal nor unauthorized.” (ECF No. 14-1 at 27-28.) The court determined that petitioner had accepted a bargained-for sentence when he pled guilty and that “the agreed upon sentence was legal under Penal Law Section 70.02 and there [wa]s nothing in the record before the Court to establish that it was unauthorized.” (Id. at 27.)

         On April 12, 2016, petitioner applied for leave to appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his Section 440 motion. (Id. at 31-34.) Petitioner claimed that his sentence is illegal and unauthorized as a matter of law “[s]imply due to the fact [that] 25 years['] [imprisonment] with 5 years['] post release [supervision] calculates to 30 years, 5 years beyond the statutory maximum penalty authorized.” (Id. at 33-34.) On September 23, 2016, the Second Department denied petitioner's application for leave to appeal the trial court's decision denying his Section 440 motion. (Id. at 44.)

         On October 13, 2016, petitioner applied for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals (id. at 45-47), arguing that his sentence is “illegal [and] [u]nauthorized[] [a]s a matter of [l]aw” and that the “trial [c]ourt[']s denial of said 440.20 Motion is [e]rroneous [and a] mis-application of clearly long ago established [l]aw[], and the Appellate [D]ivision[']s denial of leave to appeal is also . . . erroneous an[d] a denial [of] due process of [l]aw, ” (id. at 47). On December 13, 2016, the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner's application on the ground of non-appealability. (Id. at 53.)

         On January 3, 2017, petitioner filed a request for a reconsideration of his application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals (id. at 54-55), asserting that his sentence is “[i]llegal, [u]nauthorized as a matter of [l]aw [a]nd a denial of the[2]Applicant's U.S. Constitutional rights to the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protections of the laws, ” (id. at 54). Petitioner also argued that “the [t]rial court and Appellate Division[']s[] [f]ailure to take [c]orrective [a]ction, [c]ircumventing the [l]aw [i]s a U.S. Constitutional 14th[] Amendment violation to due process and equal ...


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