Stanley v. Bishop et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Levi Russell, III on 7/27/2017. (c/m 7/27/17 bas, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JOSEPH ZEGGORY STANLEY, JR.,
FRANK BISHOP and
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
THE STATE OF MARYLAND,
Civil Action No. GLR-14-2028
Petitioner Joseph Zeggory Stanley, Jr., seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254, attacking the constitutionality of his 2009 convictions in the Circuit Court for Caroline
County, Maryland. (ECF No. 1). Respondents were ordered to file an answer to the Petition and
have done so. (ECF No. 3). Stanley filed a reply. (ECF No. 5). This matter has been fully
briefed. Upon review, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts and Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md.
2016); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (concluding that petitioner not
entitled to hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)). For reasons that follow, Stanley’s Petition for
writ of habeas corpus is denied and dismissed with prejudice.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 28, 2009, following a bench trial in the Circuit Court for Caroline County,
Stanley was found guilty of first degree murder, second degree murder, armed robbery, use of a
handgun in commission of a crime of violence, first degree assault, and theft of $500 or more.
(ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 3-1 at 7–9, 14–15). He was sentenced on October 19, 2009 to life in
prison and a consecutive term of fifteen years imprisonment. (ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 3-1 at
15). Stanley filed a Notice of Appeal on October 20, 2009, alleging that the evidence was
insufficient to support his convictions. (ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 3-1 at 15; ECF No. 3-2 at 2,
8). In an unreported opinion filed on July 26, 2012, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
affirmed Stanley’s judgments of conviction. (ECF No. 1 at 2-3; ECF No. 3-2). Stanley filed a
petition for writ of certiorari in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which was denied in an order
dated November 19, 2012. (ECF No. 1 at 3; ECF No. 3-2 at 12). He did not seek further review
by the United States Supreme Court, nor has he filed for post-conviction relief in the circuit
court. (ECF No. 1 at 3).
Stanly filed the present federal Petition on June 13, 2014,1 again challenging the
sufficiency of the evidence. (ECF No. 1). On August 1, 2014, Respondents filed a Limited
Answer. (ECF No. 3). Pursuant to the Court’s August 6, 2014, Order, Stanley filed a Response
to the Limited Answer on August 22, 2014.2 (ECF No. 4; ECF No. 5).
Standards for Threshold Considerations
Section 2254 states that a district court “shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas
corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the
ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
The Petition is dated June 13, 2014, and is deemed filed on that date. See Houston v.
Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 276 (1988) (concluding that pleadings are deemed filed on date prisoner
relinquishes control over documents).
See supra n.1.
Statute of Limitations
A one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petitions in non-capital cases for
persons convicted in state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1); Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550
(2011). Section 2244(d)(1) provides that:
A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a
writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the
latest of-(A) the date on which the judgment became final by
the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of
the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an
application created by State action in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States is
removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing
by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right
asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme
Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the
Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to
cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the
claim or claims presented could have been
discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
Pursuant to § 2244(d)(2), “[t]he time during which a properly filed application for State
post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is
pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.” The
limitation period may also be subject to equitable tolling in appropriate cases. Holland v.
Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 329–30 (4th Cir. 2000).
Exhaustion in State Court
The exhaustion doctrine, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1),3 “is principally designed to
protect the state courts’ role in the enforcement of federal law and prevent disruption of state
judicial proceedings. Under our federal system, the federal and state courts [are] equally bound
to guard and protect rights secured by the Constitution.” Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518
(1982) (alteration in original) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Moreover, “it
would be unseemly in our dual system of government for a federal district court to upset a state
court conviction without an opportunity to the state courts to correct a constitutional violation[.]”
Id. Thus, the Rose Court cautioned litigants, “before you bring any claims to federal court, be
sure that you first have taken each one to state court.” Id. at 520; see also O’Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 839 (1999) (“Federal habeas relief is available to state prisoners only
after they have exhausted their claims in state court.”).
A federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the state’s adjudication on
the merits: (1) “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
Section 2254(b)(1) states that:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be
granted unless it appears that—
(A)The applicant has exhausted the remedies
available in the courts of the State; or
(B) (i) there is an absence of available State
corrective process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process
ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.
(C) An applicant shall not be deemed to have
exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the
state, within the meaning of this section, if he has
the right under the law of the state to raise, by any
available procedure, the question presented.
application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the
United States” or (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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
A state adjudication is “contrary to” clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1)
where the state court “arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on
a question of law” or “confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant
Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to [the Supreme Court].” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). Under the “unreasonable application analysis,” a “state
court’s determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as
‘fairminded jurists could disagree’ on the correctness of the state court’s decision.” Harrington
v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough. v Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664
(2004)). In other words, “a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because [it]
concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied established
federal law erroneously or incorrectly.” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010).
Under section 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). “[E]ven if reasonable minds reviewing the record
might disagree about the finding in question,” a federal court may not conclude that the state
court decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.
determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct [,]” and the
petitioner bears “the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing
evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Stanley alleges that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. (ECF No. 1
at 5). Specifically, he argues that there was not sufficient evidence of agency with respect to
him, no one identified him as the fleeing suspect, and there was no physical evidence linking him
to the murder. (Id. at 6). Respondents contend that the Petition is time-barred and should be
dismissed on that basis. (ECF No. 3 at 1–2, 4).
The Court begins with the timeliness issue. As noted above, “[t]he federal Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) establishes a 1-year statute of limitations for
filing a federal habeas corpus petition.” Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 410 (2005) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)). “That limitations period is tolled, however, while a ‘properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent
judgment or claim is pending,’” id. (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)), and may otherwise be
equitably tolled, see Holland, 560 U.S. at 645.
In this case, the Court of Appeals denied Stanley’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari on
November 19, 2012. (ECF No. 3-2 at 12). His conviction became final for direct appeal
purposes on February 19, 2013, when the time for seeking review by the Supreme Court expired.
See Sup.Ct. Rule 13.1 (requiring that petition for writ of certiorari be filed within 90 days of the
date of the judgment from which review is sought). It is undisputed that Stanley has not filed an
application for post-conviction relief in the circuit court. (ECF No. 1 at 3, 5). Therefore, no
state filing tolled the limitations period. Accordingly, the statute of limitations expired on
February 19, 2014. The Petition was filed almost four months later, on June 13, 2014. Thus, the
Court concludes that the Petition is time-barred.
In his Reply, Stanley acknowledges that the Petition is untimely. (ECF No. 5 at 2).
However, he contends that the Court should not dismiss his petition as time-barred. (Id. at 1).
Stanley makes two arguments in support of his position.
Although he does not use the term “equitable tolling,” in essence, Stanley first argues that
the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled. (Id. at 2–3). The United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has consistently held that a party seeking to avail itself of
equitable tolling must show that (1) extraordinary circumstances, (2) beyond his control or
external to his own conduct, (3) prevented him from filing on time. Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238,
246 (4th Cir. 2003)(en banc). Further, to be entitled to equitable tolling a habeas petitioner must
show: “(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary
circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing.” Holland, 560 U.S. at 649 (internal
quotation marks omitted)(quoting Pace, 544 U.S. at 418).
Stanley maintains that he has been pursuing his rights diligently. (ECF No. 5 at 2–3). He
notes that, under Maryland law, he has ten years in which to file for state post-conviction relief
and that he has been studying, researching, and reviewing statutes and case law “pertaining to his
post conviction issues.” (ECF No. 5 at 2). As for the second requirement, Stanley states that:
The extraordinary circumstance that stood in Petitioner’s way to
file a timely federal habeas petition was a complete lock’down at
N.B.C.I. after a Correctional Officer was assaulted on August 5,
2013. The institution remained on observation stages to normal
operations until August 12, 2014. Access to the prison library did
not open until February 2014.
(Id. at 3); (see also id. at 2) (noting that during this time “no movement of any kind was
permitted,” and that that he “could not get to the prison library nor [sic] any where else in the
institution.”).4 Stanley further states that he did not have this Court’s address, that no one was
willing to assist him with the address, and that once he did get the address “he immediately sent
his federal habeas petition to this Court.” Id. at 2.
There are two problems with Stanley’s argument. First, he does not account for the time
period between February 19, 2013, and August 5, 2013—over five months. Second, Stanley
does not state when in February of 2014 he regained access to the prison library. If all he was
missing was the Court’s address, it is possible—although not certain—that he could have
obtained the Court’s address and mailed his Petition within the limitations period. While “[t]he
diligence required for equitable tolling purposes is reasonable diligence, not maximum feasible
diligence,” Holland, 560 U.S. at 653 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), the Court
cannot find that Stanley acted with reasonable diligence. Therefore, the Court rejects Stanley’s
argument that he is entitled to equitable tolling.
Stanley next asks the Court, in its discretion, “to consider staying his federal habeas
petition to allow Petitioner a reasonable time to present his post conviction issues.” (ECF No. 5
at 3) (citing Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005)). In Rhines, the Supreme Court
confront[ed] the problem of a “mixed” petition for habeas corpus
relief in which a state prisoner presents a federal court with a
single petition containing some claims that have been exhausted in
the state courts and some that have not. More precisely, we
consider whether a federal district court has discretion to stay the
mixed petition to allow the petitioner to present his unexhausted
claims to the state court in the first instance, and then to return to
federal court for review of his perfected petition.
It is unclear from Stanley’s phrasing precisely when the prison resumed normal
operations. However, given that he is not “well versed in the English language,” ECF No. 5 at 3,
and construing the Petition liberally, see Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976), the Court
assumes that the institution did not return to normal operations until August 12, 2014.
544 U.S. at 271-72. The Court answered the question in the affirmative. Id. at 276.
The Rhines Court cautioned, however, that stay and abeyance should be available only in
“limited circumstances.” Id. at 277.
Because granting a stay effectively excuses a petitioner’s failure to
present his claims first to the state courts, stay and abeyance is
only appropriate when the district court determines there was good
cause for the petitioner’s failure to exhaust his claims first in state
court. Moreover, even if a petitioner had good cause for that
failure, the district court would abuse its discretion if it were to
grant him a stay when his unexhausted claims are plainly meritless.
Id. “And if a petitioner engages in abusive litigation tactics or intentional delay, the district court
should not grant him a stay at all.” Id. at 278. Finally, the Court noted that mixed petitions
should not be stayed indefinitely, but be given reasonable time limits. Id. at 277–78.
Here, Stanley’s Petition is not a “mixed petition,” containing both exhausted and
unexhausted claims. The Petition contains a single ground for relief: the alleged insufficiency of
the evidence to sustain his conviction. (Petition at 6). Although the Supreme Court suggested in
Pace that the stay and abeyance procedure could apply to “unmixed,” or “protective,” petitions in
certain circumstances,5 see 544 U.S. at 416, this is not one of those situations. In this case, it is
In Malvo v. Mathena, No. PJM 13-1863, 2017 WL 1326530 (D.Md. Apr. 11, 2017), the
Court stated that:
In Pace—an opinion published just one week after Rhines—the
Supreme Court suggested in dicta that a petitioner reasonably
confused about whether a state filing would be timely could file a
“protective” petition in federal court. Pace, 544 U.S. at 416. The
habeas petition in Pace was an unmixed petition. Id. at 410.
Therefore, even though the Supreme Court did not explicitly state
that the stay and abeyance procedure of Rhines applied to unmixed
petitions, its suggestion that Rhines’ stay and abeyance procedure
could apply to an unmixed petition in that case clearly extended
the Rhines rationale beyond mixed petitions.
Id. at *4; see also id. (noting that “multiple circuit courts—including the Fourth Circuit—have
unnecessary for the Court to stay Stanley’s Petition in order to allow him to pursue his postconviction remedies, because he has, in fact, already exhausted his federal claim in the state
courts. Stanley raised the insufficient evidence allegation on direct appeal to the Court of
Special Appeals and, after the appeal was denied, filed a petition for certiorari in the Maryland
Court of Appeals. (See Petition at 2–3). Therefore, he has already given the state courts “one
full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the
State’s established appellate review process.” O’Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. Accordingly, the
Court declines to stay the Petition.
Nonetheless, even if the Court were to apply equitable tolling to Stanley’s claim, it would
fail on the merits. In Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979), the Supreme Court held that “in
a challenge to a state criminal conviction brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2254—if the settled
procedural prerequisites for such a claim have otherwise been satisfied—the applicant is entitled
to habeas corpus relief it is found that upon the record evidence adduced at the trial no rational
trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. at 324; see also id.
at 319 (stating that “the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of
the crime beyond a reasonable doubt”).
The Court of Special Appeals summarized the facts of the case as follows:
This case arises out of the murder and robbery of Maurice
Stanley. As the victim and appellant share the same last name, we
shall refer to the victim by his nickname, “T.T.” Viewing the facts
cited the Supreme Court’s opinion in Pace as precedent for applying the Rhines’ stay and
abeyance procedure to unmixed petitions”). The so-called “protective” petitions at issue in
Malvo and Pace contained no exhausted claims but were “filed prior to the completion of the
exhaustion process to ensure future rederal review.” Id. (citing Pace, 544 U.S. at 416).
in a light most favorable to the State, the testimony and evidence
admitted at trial showed that before the murder, in April 2008,
appellant visited his cousin, Jolanda Darling, at her home in
Camden, Delaware. During that visit, appellant first met Carl
Hazzard, Darling’s husband. He asked Hazzard if he knew anyone
appellant could rob or if he had any guns for sale. As to both
questions, Hazzard answered that he did not. Later, appellant
asked Hazzard to participate in the robbery of a “major player” in
Maryland, but Hazzard declined.
Sometime after that, approximately a week to a week and a
half before appellant was ultimately arrested, Hazzard picked up
appellant and a man known as “Bike Jones” from Delaware State
University and gave them a ride to the Prospect Park area of
Maryland. During the ride, appellant and Jones discussed a
robbery they had just committed and showed Hazzard two guns
they were carrying, a chrome 380 and a black Glock nine
millimeter, the latter of which had an extended magazine. Hazzard
dropped appellant and Jones off at an apartment complex and did
not see appellant again until a “week or so” later.
On the night of May 5, 2008, appellant called his sister,
Ebony Stanley, and asked her to pick him up in Harrington,
Delaware. She drove with a man named “Fromante West,” also
known as “Truth” or “Monty,” to Harrington and picked appellant
up between 9 and 10 p.m. Driving the two men to an intersection
between the Delaware border and Federalsburg, Maryland, she
dropped them off and drove away.
That night, T.T. was at a home in a trailer park in
Federalsburg, visiting his cousin Trerone Washington. Also at the
home were Rydell Washington, Trerone’s cousin, and Shauntell
Robinson, Trerone’s girlfriend. As he had done several times in
the past, T.T. was visiting Trerone’s home for the purpose of
cooking cocaine to convert it into crack cocaine. Around
midnight, T.T., after receiving $7,000 to $8,000 from Trerone, left
Trerone’s home to see his girlfriend, who was leaving work.
When T.T. left, he had in his possession a black bag (containing
drugs and money) and a white trash bag.
Shortly thereafter, Trerone, Shauntell, and Rydell heard
gun shots. Trerone ran outside and saw T.T. lying on the ground.
He yelled for Shauntell to call “911” and then ran to his shed to get
a flashlight. As he was running towards the shed, he saw “two
shadow figures” towards the back of T.T.’s truck. After retrieving
his flashlight from the shed, Trerone saw a man in a white t-shirt
running. He was carrying a white trash bag. Trerone could only
see the man’s silhouette, not his face. The man was “a heavy set
guy.” Neither the black [bag] or white [trash bag] with which T.T.
left the home were on the ground near where T.T. was shot.
Later, appellant called Hazzard and said he had some
cocaine for him and was “anxious” to get to Delaware. When
Darling got on the same phone, he requested that she pick him up
in Maryland because “stuff came up.” Appellant told Darling, “It’s
hot down here, I got to get away.” The next day, she went to
Harrington and picked up appellant, who was then in possession of
a backpack and duffle-bag. The two returned to Hazzard and
Darling’s new home in Dover, Delaware. Appellant had with him
a black bag, one and a half kilograms, or “bricks,” of cocaine
(wrapped in individual ounces), and $30,000. The next day,
Hazzard helped appellant distribute the substance, and, during that
time, Hazzard saw appellant give West 250 grams of cocaine and
Sometime later, at Hazzard’s house, a sheriff arrived to
serve an eviction notice. Appellant hid some cocaine and a black
and white purse on the roof of the house. After the sheriff left,
Hazzard inquired as to why appellant was acting “paranoid” and
wanted to know what was in the purse. Appellant showed Hazzard
the contents of the purse, which included the Glock nine millimeter
appellant previously possessed at Delaware State University, an
extended magazine clip, a ski mask, and two black cotton gloves.
Darling, who had seen the purse on the roof, after a neighbor
directed her attention to it, asked Hazzard about it. He explained
that it contained appellant’s nine millimeter and an extended
Appellant explained to Hazzard, during several
conversations, that T.T., a “major player,” was murdered, and that
appellant was being blamed for the murder even though he had not
committed the murder. Appellant recounted how he and West had
tried to rob T.T. at a trailer park, and that when T.T. refused to
give information about the location of cocaine that had been
shipped in from out-of-state, the situation “got rough[.]” After
threats were made, T.T. pulled off the black ski mask appellant
was wearing, and appellant spit on T.T. Appellant said that, even
though he was armed with the Glock nine millimeter, it was West
who actually shot T.T.
On May 11, 2008, appellant was arrested after the police
found him in Hazzard and Darling’s house following a raid. As
appellant was being taken away by the police, he tried to
communicate a message to Darling concerning what “was
supposed to have been a bag” left at her house. Darling thereafter
retrieved a bag of appellant’s “clothes and stuff” that she then gave
to appellant’s sister. Later, Hazzard received a phone call that the
police were at his house, and, sometime after the police left, he
returned to the house and found $5,000 in the lint trap of his
Approximately two weeks after appellant’s arrest, Hazzard
and Darling were traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, when they were
stopped at a police checkpoint in South Carolina. Because
Hazzard did not have his driver’s license, he was arrested and his
vehicle was searched by the police. In the vehicle, the police
found the black and white purse that appellant had put on the roof
of Hazzard and Darling’s home. Inside the purse, the police
removed a Glock nine millimeter, an extended magazine clip, “a
mask and two black gloves.” Ballistics testing later confirmed that
bullets test fired from the Glock nine millimeter produced spent
shells with markings that matched seven spent shells found at the
scene of T.T.’s shooting.
During the investigation of the shooting, a New York
Yankees baseball hat was recovered near where T.T. was shot. At
trial, the parties entered into a joint stipulation, which provided,
among other things, that, with respect to the sweatband and a blood
stain on the inside of the hat, an analyst would testify to a
reasonable degree of scientific certainty that appellant was the
major contributor of the DNA samples provided from the hat.
According to the stipulation, the statistical probability of an
African-American, like appellant, producing a sample that would
result in the same DNA profile was one in thirty-two quintillion.
Finally, after appellant was transferred from the Delaware
authorities to the Dorchester County Detention Center, he made a
variety of phone calls to various people, including his sister Ebony,
West, and Delema Dixon Hopkins, the mother of appellant’s
former girlfriend. In these calls, appellant instructed the others to
go to Darling’s house along with another man named “Aaron
Flynn,” and to find the drugs and money that he had hidden in the
house behind the washer and dryer. Appellant gave detailed
instructions as to the location of Darling’s house. During the
investigation of T.T.’s shooting, Sergeant Steven Hall, the lead
investigator in the case, learned that appellant was in custody in
Delaware. After appellant was transferred to Maryland, the
sergeant obtained copies of appellant’s phone conversations and
listened to them. He subsequently interviewed Hopkins who
admitted that she spoke with appellant on the phone, and she was
going to show Ebony and others exactly where Darling’s house
was. At trial, both Ebony and Hopkins confirmed that the phone
conversations took place, and that, in accordance with appellant’s
instructions, Hopkins was to show Ebony where Darling’s house
was located. They also stated that in the phone conversations
appellant had indicated that he left $30,000 somewhere in the
(ECF No. 3-2 at 2-7) (third alteration in original)(footnotes omitted).
The court next articulated the standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence,
“‘whether, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any
rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt.’” Id. at 7 (quoting Jackson, 433 U.S. at 319). The Court of Special Appeals thus properly
relied on “clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court,” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1), specifically Jackson.
In analyzing the evidence, the Court of Special Appeals stated:
Preliminarily, we reject appellant’s contention that West’s
independent act of shooting [T.T.] cannot be attributed to him as a
principal to a murder because he was not charged with felony
murder. Appellant’s first degree murder conviction was based on
the claim that the murder was committed by West, in furtherance
of the planned robbery of Maurice Stanley. At the beginning of
the trial, the State’s Attorney advised the court that it was
proceeding under the theory that the first degree murder was a
felony murder in relation to the armed robbery of [T.T.]. In
addition, in charging appellant, the State used the statutory shortform murder indictment which permits a conviction on any theory
of murder, including felony murder. See e.g., McMillan v. State,
181 Md. App. 298, 353-54 (2008).
We also reject his claim that the evidence was insufficient
to support his convictions because neither witness identified him as
the fleeing suspect, because there was no physical evidence such as
a murder weapon, money, or drugs to connect him to the crime and
because Hazzard’s testimony was “uncorroborated and utterly
There was ample credible evidence to support appellant’s
convictions. Carl Hazzard testified that appellant confessed to him
that he had participated in the robbery and murder of T.T. with
Fromante West, and that they hoped to rob T.T. of large amounts
of drugs he was rumored to possess. Hazzard further stated that
appellant told him T.T. had resisted the robbery and pulled the ski
mask off appellant’s face, leading appellant to spit upon him and
West to shoot him. In addition, Hazzard testified that soon after
the murder, his wife, Darling, picked up appellant from a location
not far from the murder, and that appellant had with him a black
bag containing a brick and a half of cocaine and $30,000. When
appellant later met with West, he gave West a quarter brick of
cocaine from the black bag and $10,000.
The testimony of both Hazzard and Darling established that
appellant possessed the handgun that was eventually linked to the
murder of T.T. by ballistics evidence. Even if, as appellant
maintains, he was convicted solely on the basis of circumstantial
evidence, it is well settled that “[c]ircumstantial evidence is
entirely sufficient to support a conviction, provided the
circumstances support rational inferences from which the trier of
fact could be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of
the accused[.]” Hall v. State, 119 Md. App. 377, 393 (1998).
Thus, Hazzard’s testimony was sufficient, by itself, to sustain
Even so, Hazzard’s testimony was corroborated by
numerous other witnesses, including Darling, Ebony Stanley, and
Delema Hopkins. Darling testified that appellant wanted to stay
with her because he had “to get away” and that it was “hot down
here” in Maryland. She also testified that when she picked up
appellant in an area near the site of the murder, appellant had a
backpack and the duffle bag that Hazzard had described. Further
corroborating Hazzard’s testimony, Ebony Stanley and Delema
Hopkins stated that, after appellant was arrested, he called them
and told them that he left $30,000 at Darling’s house, and he
wanted them, West, and another man to go to Darling’s house to
retrieve it. In addition, Trerone Washington testified that T.T. left
his trailer home with a black bag containing cocaine and $7,000 to
Finally, Hazzard’s testimony that appellant was
accompanied by West was corroborated by Trerone Washington,
who stated that he saw two people running away from the scene of
There was also physical evidence linking appellant to the
robbery and murder. Ballistics evidence confirmed that the Glock
nine millimeter handgun that appellant left at Darling’s house, and
that was eventually seized from Darling’s car, was the same gun
used to shoot and kill T.T. DNA evidence also connected
appellant to the black baseball cap that was discovered in the
vicinity of the murder. For all these reasons, we conclude that the
evidence was sufficient to sustain appellant’s convictions.
(ECF No. 3-2 at 9-11) (third and fourth alterations in original).
The appellate court thoroughly reviewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State and fully considered the issue of sufficiency. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 322 (noting that “if the
state courts have fully considered the issue of sufficiency, the task of a federal habeas court
should not be difficult”). The court’s application of Jackson to the facts of the case was neither
incorrect nor unreasonable. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); Williams, 529 U.S. at 412–13. A
rational trier of fact clearly could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson, 443 U.S.
307 at 319, 324.
Moreover, although the trial transcript is not part of the record before this Court, it does
not appear that the Court of Special Appeals’ determination of the facts of the case was
unreasonable. See § 2254(d)(2). The court addressed—and rejected—the particular allegations
Stanley presents here, that there was insufficient evidence of agency to link him to the murder,
he was not identified as the fleeing suspect, and no physical evidence connected him to the crime
scene. (ECF No. 3-2 at 9); (see also Petition at 6). The state court’s factual determinations are
reflected in the court’s detailed summary of the evidence presented at trial and are presumed to
be correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Stanley has not met his burden of rebutting the presumption
of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. Id.
Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that the Court of Special Appeals’ decision
survives scrutiny under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) and denies the Petition.
Certificate of Appealability
A Certificate of Appealability may issue “only if the applicant has made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Buck v. Davis, __ U.S.
__, 137 S.Ct. 759, 773 (Feb. 22, 2017) (citing Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003)).
To meet this burden, an applicant must show that “reasonable jurists could debate whether (or,
for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that
the issues were ‘adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.’” Slack v. McDaniel,
529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000) (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893 n.4 (1983)). Stanley
has failed to make a substantial showing that he was denied a constitutional right, and the court
finds that reasonable jurists would not find the denial of habeas relief in this case debatable.
Accordingly, a certificate of appealability shall not issue.6
For the above reasons, the court concludes that Stanley’s Petition provides no basis for
habeas corpus relief. Accordingly, the Petition wil be DENIED and DISMISSED. A separate
Entered this 27th day of July, 2017
George L. Russell, III
United States District Judge
Denial of a Certificate of Appealability in the District Court does not preclude Stanley
from requesting one from the Court of Appeals.
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