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Rosario v. Roden

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 31, 2014

JOSE ROSARIO, Petitioner,
GARY RODEN et al., Respondent.


DENISE J. CASPER, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Petitioner Jose Rosario ("Rosario") has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus ("Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 2254 alleging that the trial judge denied Rosario's right to due process. D. 1. Respondents oppose the Petition, arguing that Rosario has failed to show that the state-court adjudication of his claim was contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Rosario's Petition.

II. Background

A. Factual and Procedural History

1. Procedural History

On June 4, 1999, Mario Cordova ("Cordova") was shot in Springfield, Massachusetts and died of his injuries on June 9, 1999. D. 1-4 at 7.[1] Alberto $$Montanez ("Montanez"), Felix Padilla, Jr. ("Padilla"), Adrian Rivera ("Rivera"), Jason Rivas ("Rivas") and Jose Rosario were indicted as joint venturers in the murder. Id . at 8. Montanez and Rivera each entered into a cooperation agreement with the Commonwealth, testified in separate trials against Rivas and Rosario and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Id.

On September 28, 2000, Rosario was convicted in Hampden Superior Court of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life in prison. Id . He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Judicial Court on October 27, 2000 and filed a motion for a new trial on October 22, 2001. Id . The Hampden Superior Court held an evidentiary hearing on Rosario's motion for a new trial in November 2002 and denied his motion on May 7, 2010. Id . Rosario appealed and that appeal was consolidated with his direct appeal before the Supreme Judicial Court, who affirmed both the conviction and the denial of the motion for a new trial. Id . On July 28, 2011, Rosario filed a petition for a rehearing, which the Supreme Judicial Court denied on September 9, 2011. Res. SA at 17. Rosario filed his petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on November 20, 2012. D. 1.

2. Evidence Presented at Trial

At trial, the Commonwealth presented the following evidence. Rosario was a "regional officer" in the street gang known as the Latin Kings. D. 1-4 at 8. Prior to the shooting, Rosario had three confrontations with the victim, Cordova, and his friend Johnel Olmo ("Olmo"), all involving allegations of stolen money and drugs from Rosario's apartment. Id . During the first incident, Rosario, in Cordova's presence, pointed a shotgun at Olmo's head and said that "there was going to be trouble" and that they "should pay the money." Id . During the second encounter, Cordova and Olmo observed two vehicles, one belonging to Rosario, pull into a driveway. Id . A group of people exited the vehicles carrying weapons. Id . Olmo and Cordova ran into a nearby apartment and contacted the police, but Rosario left before the police arrived. Id . Finally, the third confrontation occurred when Rosario approached Olmo and Cordova in a bar, demanded his money and challenged Olmo to a fight. Id.

On the night of June 3, 1999, Jenette Vasquez ("Vasquez") invited Luis Rodriguez ("Rodriguez") and several other friends over her apartment in Springfield for dinner and a movie. Id . Vasquez invited Cordova and Olmo to the gathering, but before they arrived, Rosario stopped by the apartment. Id . at 8-9. While Rosario was still in the apartment, Olmo called Vasquez and asked to speak with him. Id . During the phone call, Rosario threatened Olmo saying, "I'm your worst nightmare." Id . After the phone call, Rosario left the apartment. Id . A short time later, Olmo and Cordova arrived at the apartment to watch the movie. Id.

That same night, Montanez, Padilla, Rivas and Rivera were all together at Rivera's house. Id . The four men were members of the Latin Kings and were subordinate in rank to Rosario. Id . Rosario called Padilla and told him to come pick him up and bring a gun from Rivera's house. Id . Rivas retrieved the handgun, and all four men left the house in Padilla's vehicle. Id.

Padilla picked up Rosario, who told the men about "a beef he had" with Olmo and Cordova. Id . Rosario told Padilla to go to Vasquez's apartment. Id . When they arrived, Rosario, Montanez and Rivas got out of the vehicle and Rosario told them to wait "between some buildings." Id . Rosario and Padilla then drove further down the street with the vehicle's headlights off. Id.

Cordova, Olmo, and Rodriguez left Vasquez's apartment when the movie was over, but Olmo returned to the apartment to use the bathroom. Id . Cordova and Rodriguez waited for Olmo near the entrance to the building. Id . While Cordova was standing in the doorway, Rosario and Padilla made a U-turn. Id . Rosario got out of the vehicle, ran over to Montanez and Rivas, pointed at Cordova and said, "Go, go, go." Id . At the same time, Rosario touched Rivas on the back and Rivas fired three shots at Cordova. Id . The first shot struck Cordova in the head and he fell to the ground. Id . Rosario, Montanez and Rivas returned to Padilla's vehicle and the men drove off. Id . Vasquez called 911 and Cordova was brought to the hospital, but he died six days later. Id.

B. Relevant Proceedings in Superior Court

Rosario's trial began on September 14, 2000. Res. SA at 5. During the trial, Rodriguez testified that he was in Vazquez's apartment on the night Cordova was shot. Id . at 7.94. He testified that he left the apartment with Cordova and was waiting in the doorway with him when he was shot. Id . at 7.110-12. He and several other witnesses testified that Olmo and Rosario spoke on the phone that night. Id . at 6.97, 6.139-40, 7.60, 7.100. Rodriguez, Olmo, and Sharon Burgos ("Burgos") testified to some of the contents of that phone conversation, including that Rosario said to Olmo, "I am your worst nightmare." Id . at 6.139-40, 7.60, 7.100. Finally, Rodriguez and Olmo testified to seeing a black SUV outside of Vasquez's apartment that matched the description of the Suzuki Sidekick Padilla drove on the night Cordova was shot. Id . at 7.103-04, 6.153-55. Although Rodriguez was standing next to Cordova during the shooting, he was unable to identify the shooter. Id . at 7.136-37.

After Rodriguez testified, his attorney, Edward Fogarty ("Fogarty"), contacted the prosecutor, Donna Donato ("Donato"), to discuss the Commonwealth's sentencing recommendation in an unrelated case pending against Rodriguez. Id . at 8.62-63. Rodriguez believed that Donato had agreed to consider his testimony when making a sentencing recommendation in that case. Id . at 8.88-89. The next morning, Donato disclosed the conversation to Rosario's attorney and the court, but denied that any cooperation agreement existed. D. 1-2 at 11.

After the disclosure, the trial judge held a hearing on the alleged cooperation agreement and called Rodriguez and Fogarty to testify. Id . at 11-12. Rodriguez testified that on April 27, 2000 he and Fogarty met with Donato. Res. SA at 8.86. Rodriguez testified that initially he was uncooperative but that he eventually decided to testify for the Commonwealth. Id . at 8.87. Rodriguez also testified that Donato had told him she could help him with his pending charges, but could not promise anything. Id . at 8.88. Fogarty corroborated Rodriguez's recollection of the discussions with Donato. Id . at 8.101-02. Fogarty also testified that the understanding was never reduced to writing and he had no other discussions with Donato about it. Id . at 8.102, 8.104. The court did not make any findings about the existence of an agreement, but offered to allow Rosario to recall Rodriguez to cross-examine him "to inquire whether Rodriguez believed that his testimony in the defendant's case would reduce the jail time that he was facing." Id . at 8.109; D. 1-2 at 12. Rosario's attorney requested that the judge allow him to recall Rodriguez and Fogarty and to present evidence of the delayed disclosure to the jury. Res. ...

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