United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG JUDGE.
Correa ("Correa") brings this petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against
Kelly Ryan ("Respondent''), the superintendent
of the Massachusetts Correctional Institute - Shirley. Correa
seeks to vacate a decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court
affirming his conviction in the Middlesex County Superior
Court for breaking and entering in the daytime with the
intent to commit a felony. Pet. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
Writ Habeas Corpus ("Habeas Pet.") 16, ECF. No. 1.
He argues that there was insufficient evidence to support the
jury's guilty verdict, and that his conviction therefore
violates his due process rights. Id. at 6.
19, 2009, the victim left her ground floor apartment in
Newton, Massachusetts, after locking the front door but
leaving the back window slightly open, with childproof locks
engaged. Resp't's Suppl. Answer ("S.A.")
00256-58. Her back windows faced a private patio
which was accessible through a door in the apartment.
Id. at 00249-50. The victim returned to her
apartment later that same day. Id. at 00257-58.
After unlocking the front door, an intruder ran toward her,
grabbed her by the shoulders, and said: "Get out of
here." Id. at 00257-60. She asked who he was,
to which the intruder replied: "Just get out of
here." Id. at 00260-61. The victim ran out of
her apartment yelling and was eventually let into a
neighbor's apartment, where she called 911. Id.
police arrived shortly after. Id. at 00287-89. From
outside the victim's apartment, a Newton police officer
observed indications of a break-in at the back window,
including broken locks and a removed screen. Id. at
00289-90, 00309-10. Upon entering the apartment, the police
observed other signs of a break-in, and the victim noticed
several personal and valuable items missing. Id. at
00292-93, 00262-63. None of the stolen items were ever
recovered. Id. at 00280, 00332.
dusting for fingerprints inside and outside the victim's
apartment, detectives from the Newton Police Department
located two fingerprints on the outside bottom part of the
back window whose locks had been snapped off. Id. at
00311-16. A police fingerprint analyst received the two
fingerprints found on the back window together with the
victim's fingerprint card. Id. at 00421. He
determined that one of the two fingerprints was of "good
quality." Id. at 00423. Later comparison with
the victim's fingerprints determined that the window
fingerprint was not hers. Id. at 00424. The window
fingerprint was then compared to a fingerprint card from
Correa which the police had in their records. Id. at
00454. Using the analysis, comparison, evaluation, and
verification ("ACE-V") method, police found that
the window fingerprint matched that of Correa's left
thumb. Id. at 00414-20, 00426-28, 00454. Two other
fingerprint analysts later verified and confirmed the
positive match. Id. at 00486-97, 00507-20.
Middlesex County grand jury indicted Correa for: (1) breaking
and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a
felony, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 18; (2) larceny from
a building, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 20; and (3)
assault and battery, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 13A(a).
S.A. 00050-52. Following a jury trial in the Middlesex County
Superior Court, Correa was found guilty of the first of these
offenses on December 1, 2011. Id. at 00054-62. The
presiding judge also found Correa guilty of being a habitual
offender under Massachusetts law. Id. Correa was
sentenced to a total of ten years in state prison, from and
after a sentence he was already serving. Id. at
appealed his conviction to the Massachusetts Appeals Court
("Appeals Court"). S.A. 00063, 00010. On March 12,
2014, the Appeals Court affirmed Correa's conviction.
Commonwealth v. Correa, No.
14-P-346, 2015 WL 1443196, at *2 (Mass App. Ct. Apr. I,
2015). Correa then sought further appellate review by the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which was denied.
Commonwealth v. Correa, 471 Mass.
1104 (2015). Having exhausted his state appeals, Correa filed
a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court on
October 30, 2015, Habeas Pet., followed by a supporting
memorandum on January 29, 2016, Mem. Supp. Pet. Habeas Corpus
("Pet'r's Mem."), ECF No. 22. The
Commonwealth filed a memorandum opposing Correa's habeas
petition on August 22, 2016. Resp't's Opp'n Pet.
Habeas Corpus ("Resp't's Opp'n"), ECF
argues that his conviction violates his due process rights
because the jury was presented with insufficient evidence
from which to infer his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Pet'r's Mem. 7. Specifically, Correa argues that the
prosecution "failed to present evidence [at trial]
establishing the [window] fingerprint was left during the
commission of the crime, " and "thus, no rational
trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt." Id. Respondent maintains
that the jury's verdict is supported by ample evidence
and that Correa's conviction ought stand, particularly in
light of the legal standards applicable at this juncture.
See Resp't's Mem. 7-16.
for habeas corpus by a person in custody seeking relief from
a state court decision are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110
Stat. 1214. Further, claims based on alleged due process
violations arising out of insufficient evidence are governed
by Jacksonv.Virginia, 443 U.S.
307 (1979). The Court ...