Dominguez v. Rock
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Dominguez's Petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Dkt. 1 ) is DENIED. Because Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, no certificate of appealability s hall issue. The court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that an appeal from this judgment would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of any appeal. See Cop pedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962). The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to enter judgment and close this case. So Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 2/8/2016. (c/m to petitioner; fwd'd for jgm) (Lee, Tiffeny)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
DAYID ROCK, Superintendent, Upstate
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.
Petitioner Regino Dominguez ("Petitioner" or "Dominguez") brings this pro se Petition
for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his New York State
convictions for murder in the second degree, assault in the second degree, and criminal
possession ofa weapon in the fourth degree. (Pet. (Dkt. 1).) 1 In his Petition, Dominguez asserts
two claims: (I) that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the second-degree murder
charge; and (2) that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons set forth
below, Dominguez's Petition is DENIED.
The following testimony was elicited at Petitioner's trial. Sometime after midnight on
October 31, 2004, brothers Franklin and Patricio Guaman, and Patricio's friend, Marco Chabla,
were socializing at El Rodeo Bar in Corona, Queens. (Trial Tr. ("Tr.") (Dkts. 15-1through15-6)
1 Because Petitioner is proceeding prose, the court is "obliged to construe [his! pleadings and papers liberally." .
LaBountv v. Adler, 933 F.2d 121, 122 (2d Cir. 1991). A prose litigant's submissions are to be interpreted "to raise
the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). Still, a litigant's
prose status does not insulate him from complying with relevant procedural rules. Gibson v. Wise, 331 F.
Supp. 2d 168, 169 (E.D.N.Y. 2004).
at 432, 439, 455-56, 478-79.) Around 1:30 a.m., Petitioner and his co-defendant, Sergio Carillo,
approached the three while they sat at a table.
ffit at 441, 468.)
Petitioner had a machete in his
hand, and Carillo had a knife; Franklin, Patricio, and Chabla were unarmed.
at 361-62, 444, 486, 542-43.) Carillo stabbed Patricio multiple times in the stomach and the
chest. Mat 485-86.) When Chabla attempted to help Patricio, Carillo stabbed him as well. (Id.
at 486.) Franklin, too, sought to help his brother, but Petitioner struck him several times with the
machete (.iQ. at 443-44, 529), wounding him numerous times on the face, nose, and back@
at 529, 531 ). After the attack, Petitioner and Carillo ran out of the bar together. (Id. at 532.)
Franklin chased after Petitioner, but he went back into the bar after Petitioner raised the machete
and asked him, "You want to die too?" (Id. at 533-34.)
Patricio was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he later died from his injuries.2 Qd.
at 858-71.) Chabla suffered injuries to his heart@at 678), and colon@at 681), and he was
taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he received life-saving emergency thoracic surgery @
at 671, 676, 684-85). Franklin sustained deep cuts to his face, nose, back, and arm, which
resulted in permanent scars. Mat 538-39.)
Trial Court Proceedings
Petitioner and Carillo were charged in New York Supreme Court, Queens County, with
two counts of murder in the second degree, two counts of attempted murder in the second degree,
two counts of assault in the first degree, one count of assault in the second degree, and two
counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. (Aff. of Ushir Pandit in Opp'n to
'A New York City medical examiner testified, however, that none of these injuries were consistent with being
caused by a machete. (Tr. at 866.)
Pet. ("Pandit Aff.") (Dkt. 13) if 4.) On September 20, 2006, Carillo pied guilty to manslaughter
in the first degree, and on October I 0, 2006, he was sentenced to a determinate term of 18 years
of imprisonment. @, at 3 n. l.)
On August 8, 20()7, Petitioner proceeded to a jury trial before Justice Robert J. Hanophy
of the New York Supreme Court. (Id. if 5.) At trial, the State presented testimony from Franklin
and Chabla, the surviving victims. (Tr. at 477-570.) Eyewitnesses Lucy Ibarlucea, an employee
of the bar who was a friend of Patricio's and Chabla's, and Moises Leyva-Ramirez, the manager
of the bar, also testified for the prosecution. @,at 345-473 .) The State also presented testimony
from various police officers, who had collected and tested evidence in addition to interviewing
witnesses. (Ml at 575-663, 698-782.) Furthermore, the prosecution introduced a written
statement made by Petitioner, in which he admitted to possessing the machete and using it during
the altercation. ®'at 721-23.)
Petitioner presented testimony from New York City Police Officer Wayne Rothschild
and Lieutenant Jose Jacomes to show that prosecution witnesses had made prior inconsistent
statements. @,at 878-<;'l 9.) Justice Hanophy struck a significant portion of Officer
Rothschild's testimony, however, because only Lieutenant Jacomes had personally interviewed
the witnesses and, therefore, Officer Rothschild's testimony constituted double hearsay. (Id.
On August 23, 2007, Petitioner was convicted of murder in the second degree,4 both
counts of assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and both counts of criminal
3 Two paragraphs of the affidavit are labeled "4." (Pandit Aff. at 2, 3.) This citation refers to the second such
paragraph. (See id. at 3.)
During the charge conference, the State moved to dismiss the charge for second-degree murder base
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