United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robin Abrahams is currently serving a sentence of 45-60 years
following his convictions for the forcible rape of a child,
pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 14, and armed
assaultive burglary, pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266,
§ 14. Presently pending before this Court is
Abrahams' petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he argues that
the DNA evidence and identification evidence presented at
trial were unlawfully obtained and should have been
suppressed. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court
DENIES Abrahams' petition for a writ of habeas
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Massachusetts Appeals Court provided the following account of
the facts, which is summarized in pertinent part. See
Commonwealth v. Abrahams, 6 N.E.3d 1095 (Mass. App. Ct.
1991, the victim, then fifteen years old, was raped in her
bedroom on the second floor of a two-story apartment building
in Newburyport in the early morning hours. She awoke to see
the rapist, who had broken into the apartment, standing over
her. She did not scream or cry because she feared that he
would hurt her, and because she worried that the rapist would
also hurt her mother, who was sleeping in a bedroom nearby.
After raping the victim, the rapist left through a window.
The victim was immediately taken to a hospital, where a
sexual assault evidence collection kit was assembled and
provided to the police. The police took the sheets from the
victim's bed, which contained seminal fluid in several
locations, as well as other items from her bedroom. Fifteen
years after the incident, Abrahams was identified as the
suspect based on a DNA match. The process by which he was
identified is detailed below.
1993, a chemist at the state police crime laboratory
identified the seminal fluid in multiple areas of the
victim's bed sheets. In January 2004, the laboratory sent
a cutting from the bed sheets to a private company for DNA
analysis. In August 2005, Abrahams was brought to the Essex
County Correctional Facility from another state based on an
outstanding Massachusetts warrant. He was arraigned on
charges unrelated to the present case including assault with
intent to rape, indecent assault and battery, and burglary.
Abrahams remained in custody as a pre-trial detainee because
he was unable to post bail. While he was being held on those
outstanding charges, a judge in Newburyport District Court
sentenced Abrahams to concurrent ten-day terms on prior
convictions, which were also unconnected to the instant case.
He served the sentences on those convictions in October of
2005 at the Essex County Correctional Facility, but remained
in custody at the facility as a pre-trial detainee based on
the other still outstanding charges.
November 2, 2005, an employee at the Essex County
Sherriff's Department obtained a sample of Abrahams'
blood by pricking his finger. The sample was then mailed to the
Combined DNA Index System Unit
(“CODIS”). In February of 2006, CODIS determined that
the DNA profile obtained from Abrahams' blood sample
matched the DNA profile obtained from the seminal fluids on
the bed sheets of the victim in the present case.
was subsequently indicted by a grand jury for the 1991
forcible rape of the victim (then a child) and armed
assaultive burglary. Based on the previous DNA match from his
blood sample, the Commonwealth obtained a court order to take
a buccal swab sample to collect additional DNA from
Abrahams' interior cheek prior to the trial. The DNA
profile generated from the results of the buccal swab sample
from Abrahams also matched the DNA profile obtained from the
bed sheets. Abrahams then filed a motion to suppress the DNA
results obtained from the initial blood test taken while he
was incarcerated, and all subsequent evidence obtained as a
result, on the ground that the initial collection of his
blood was not authorized by the state statutes governing the
collection of DNA samples of convicted offenders: Mass. Gen.
Laws ch. 22E, § 3 and St. 1997, ch. 106, §
The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and following
a jury trial, Abrahams was convicted of the forcible rape of
a child and armed assaultive burglary.
Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed Abrahams'
convictions. On July 30, 2014, the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) denied his
application for further appellate review. On July 10, 2015,
Abrahams filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [ECF No. 1], and on
December 10, 2015, filed his accompanying memorandum of law
in support [ECF No. 19]. On April 5, 2016, Respondent Kelly
Ryan filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the petition
[ECF No. 22], and on May 19, 2016, Abrahams filed a response
[ECF No. 23].
federal district court's review of a state criminal
conviction is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). AEDPA
permits federal courts to grant habeas relief after a final
state adjudication of a federal constitutional claim only if
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable 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).
court decision is “contrary to” clearly
established Supreme Court precedent if the state court
arrives at a conclusion opposite that reached by the Supreme
Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a
case differently from a decision of the Supreme Court on a
materially indistinguishable set of facts. Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). A state court decision
is considered an unreasonable application of Supreme Court
precedent if the state court identifies the correct legal
rule but unreasonably applies it to the facts. Id.
at 407. An unreasonable application requires “some
increment of incorrectness beyond error.” Norton v.
Spencer, 351 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2003) (internal
quotations omitted). Lastly, a state court judgment is based