United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
HEATON, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
who is represented by counsel, has filed a petition for writ
of habeas corpus challenging his first degree murder
conviction in Oklahoma County District Court Case No.
CF-2009-3199. Doc. 1. Petitioner appealed his conviction and
life sentence to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
(hereinafter “OCCA”). The OCCA affirmed in an
unpublished opinion. Ersland v. State, No.
F-2011-638 (Okla. Crim. App. June 20, 2013). Petitioner also
sought post-conviction relief, which the OCCA denied.
Ersland v. State, No. PC-2015-94 (Okla. Crim. App.
Apr. 30, 2015). Copies of the OCCA's opinions are
attached to the response as Exhibits 5 and 7.
presents two grounds for relief. Both are based on newly
discovered evidence and both were raised on post-conviction.
See Appellant's Brief, No. PC-2015-94
(Resp't's Ex. 6). In his first ground, petitioner
asserts that because the OCCA denied him relief based on this
new evidence, he was denied a fair trial and his right to
present a defense. In his second ground, petitioner asserts
that his trial counsel was ineffective for not discovering
and presenting the evidence at trial. For the following
reasons, the court concludes that neither ground warrants
facts are largely undisputed. On May 19, 2009, Antwun Parker
and Jevontai Ingram attempted to rob the Reliable Pharmacy in
Oklahoma City. Ingram was armed. Petitioner, who was working
that day along with two female employees, shot and killed
Parker. The question at trial was whether petitioner shot
Parker in self-defense.
first shot Parker in the head. Parker immediately fell to the
ground. Ingram then fled and petitioner pursued him. When
petitioner came back inside, Parker was still lying on the
floor. He was alive but unconscious. Petitioner walked past
Parker to go behind the counter. With a second gun,
petitioner then reapproached Parker and shot him five more
times. These shots were close range cluster shots to
Parker's chest and abdomen. After the second shots,
petitioner called 911.
surveillance cameras captured the event. At trial, the
State conceded that petitioner's first shot to Parker was
California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 485 (1984),
the Supreme Court held that the constitutional right to a
fair trial under the Due Process Clause includes “a
meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.”
See also Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 294
(1973) (“The right of an accused in a criminal trial to
due process is, in essence, the right to a fair opportunity
to defend against the State's accusations.”). In
his first ground for relief, petitioner asserts that the OCCA
denied him this right when it failed to grant him relief in
the form of new trial or an evidentiary hearing based on
newly discovered evidence. In denying petitioner relief, the
OCCA concluded that the evidence is not new evidence. It
additionally held that even if the evidence had been
presented at trial, it would not have affected the outcome of
petitioner's trial. Ersland, No. PC-2015-94,
slip op. at 4-5.
the OCCA addressed the merits of petitioner's claim,
review is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Pursuant to
this section of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996 (hereinafter “AEDPA”), in order for
petitioner to obtain relief, he must show that the OCCA's
adjudication of his claim either
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
See Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011)
(acknowledging that “[t]he petitioner carries the
burden of proof”). The very focus of this statutory
provision is the reasonableness of the OCCA's decision.
“The question under AEDPA is not whether a federal
court believes the state court's determination was
incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable-a
substantially higher threshold.” Schriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007). In other words,
“[i]t is not enough that [this] court, in its
independent review of the legal question, is left with a firm
conviction that the [OCCA] was erroneous.” What is
required is a showing that the OCCA's decision is
“objectively unreasonable.” Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75-76 (2003) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged that Section
2254(d) “‘erects a formidable barrier to federal
habeas relief for prisoners whose claims have been
adjudicated in state court[, ]'” and that
“[i]f [it] is difficult to meet, that is because it was
meant to be.” White v. Wheeler, 577 U.S. ___,
136 S.Ct. 456, 460 (2015) (quoting Burt v. Titlow,
571 U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013)); Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). Section 2254(d)
“stops short of imposing a complete bar on
federal-court relitigation of claims already rejected in
state proceedings.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
What remains, then, is a very narrow avenue for relief, one
that permits ...