United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is petitioner's amended 28 U.S.C. §
2254 habeas corpus petition (Dkt. # 14). For the reasons
below, the petition will be denied.
cases arises from petitioner's convictions for rape and
molestation. Petitioner encountered the victims - two young
girls identified as De. and Da. - while dating their mother
in 2000. See Dkt. # 19-3 at 26. After the
relationship ended, De. and Da. continued to visit
petitioner's home. Id. De. testified that
petitioner began sexually abusing her when she was six years
old. Id. at 28. The abuse included inappropriate
touching and oral and anal sodomy. Id. at 28-66. Da.
also testified that petitioner sexually assault her when she
was nine or ten years old. Id. at 95-100. The
victims could not provide exact dates for the incidents, but
described them in relation to the three houses that
petitioner occupied during an eight year period. Id.
Tulsa Police Department initiated an investigation in January
2011. Petitioner was in Mexico when he learned about the
allegations and the warrant for his arrest. See Dkt.
# 19-4 at 74. He did not return on March 2, 2011, as
scheduled. Id. at 140. Instead, his girlfriend
joined him in Mexico so that they could get married.
Id. at 87-89. Over a year later, petitioner was
arrested and extradited to the United States. See
Dkt. # 19-7 at 51. He was initially charged with rape by
instrumentation and lewd molestation. See Dkt. #
19-7 at 29. De. and Da. testified at the preliminary hearing
held June 22, 2012. See Dkt. # 19-1. Thereafter, the
State amended the Information as follows: (Count 1): rape by
instrumentation in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §
1114(A)(6); (Counts 2 - 4; 10-12; 14-15): lewd
acts/molestation in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §
1123; (Counts 8 - 9): first degree rape of a victim under age
14 in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1115; and
(Count 13): forcible oral sodomy of a victim under age 16 in
violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 888. See Dkt.
# 18-11 at 1-3.
state court held a jury trial in 2013. Witnesses included
petitioner; De.; Da.; and Bucky King, petitioner's former
friend and business associate. The jury convicted petitioner
of all charges except for Counts 2, 10, and 15 (citing
specific instances of lewd acts and/or molestation) and
recommended a punishment of life imprisonment plus 120 years.
See Dkt. # 19-5 at 65-67. The state court sentenced
petitioner in accordance with the jury's recommendation.
See Dkt. 19-6 at 8. Petitioner perfected a direct
appeal with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA),
asserting numerous propositions of error. See Dkt. #
18-1. On October 16, 2014, the OCCA affirmed. See
Dkt. # 18-3. Petitioner then filed a motion for a new trial
in state court, which was denied. See Dkt. # 18-5,
filed a federal § 2254 petition (Dkt. # 1) on January
14, 2016. He originally raised nine propositions of error.
Id. at 3. However, by an Opinion and Order entered
April 21, 2016 (Dkt. # 13), the Court determined he failed to
exhaust three of his nine claims. Petitioner, therefore,
amended his petition to seek relief on the following claims:
(Ground 1): Interference by the prosecutor prevented three
defense witnesses from testifying;
(Ground 2): Petitioner lacked sufficient notice of the
alleged illegal conduct;
(Ground 3): New evidence demonstrates that witness Bucky King
lied under oath;
(Ground 4): The prosecutor committed misconduct; and
(Ground 5): Ineffective assistance of counsel.
See Dkt. # 14 at 5-6.
filed a response (Dkt. # 18), along with copies of the state
court record (Dkt. # 19). Respondent concedes, and the Court
finds, that petitioner timely filed his federal habeas
petition and exhausted state remedies as to the above claims.
See Dkt. # 18 at 2l; see also 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2244(d), 2254(b)(1)(A). Petitioner filed a reply
(Dkt. # 22) on August 8, 2016, and the matter is ready for
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governs
this Court's review of petitioner's habeas claims.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Relief is only available
under the AEDPA where the petitioner “is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). However,
because the OCCA already adjudicated petitioner's claims,
this Court may not grant habeas relief unless he demonstrates
that the OCCA's ruling: (1) “resulted in a decision
that was contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law as
determined by Supreme Court of the United States, ” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); (2) “resulted in a decision that
. . . involved an unreasonable application of clearly
established Federal law, ” id.; or (3)
“resulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts” in light of
the record presented to the state court, id. at
determine whether a particular decision is ‘contrary
to' then-established law, a federal court must consider
whether the decision ‘applies a rule that contradicts
[such] law' and how the decision ‘confronts [the]
set of facts' that were before the state court.”
Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 182 (2011)
(alterations in original) (quotations omitted). When the
state court's decision “identifies the correct
governing legal principle in existence at the time, a federal
court must assess whether the decision ‘unreasonably
applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.” Id. (quotations omitted).
Significantly, an “unreasonable application of”
clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1)
“must be objectively unreasonable, not merely
wrong.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702
(2014) (quotations omitted). “[E]ven clear error will
not suffice.” Id. Likewise, under §
2254(d)(2), “a state-court factual determination is not
unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would
have reached a different conclusion in the first
instance.” Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301
(2010). The Court must presume the correctness of the state
court's factual findings unless petitioner rebuts that
presumption “by clear and convincing evidence.”
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
the standards set forth in § 2254 are designed to be
“difficult to meet, ” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011), and require federal
habeas courts to give state court decisions the
“benefit of the doubt.” Woodford v.
Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). A state prisoner
ultimately “must show that the state court's ruling
... was so lacking in justification that there was an error
well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any
possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.
An Evidentiary Hearing is Not Warranted
initial matter, petitioner asks the Court to conduct on
evidentiary hearing before ruling on Ground 1 (witness
interference) and Ground 3 (false testimony by Bucky King).
See Dkt. # 22 at 12. Because the state court record
precludes habeas relief, petitioner's request is denied.
See Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 183 (2011)
(“[W]hen the state-court record precludes habeas relief
under the limitations of § 2254(d), a district court is
not required to hold an evidentiary hearing.”)