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Alcequiecz v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 30, 2017

SPASSKY ALCEQUIECZ, Petitioner,
v.
KELLY RYAN, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Spassky Alcequiecz was convicted of murder in the first degree on a theory of felony-murder pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 1, armed burglary pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 14, and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 15A(b).[1] Presently pending before this Court is Alcequiecz's petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. [ECF No. 1]. Having reviewed the parties' submissions, and construing Alcequiecz's pleadings liberally because he is proceeding pro se, this Court DENIES his petition for a writ of habeas corpus for the reasons set forth below.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) provided an account of the facts as the jury could have found them, which is summarized in relevant part below. See Commonwealth v. Alcequiecz, 989 N.E.2d 473, 476-79 (Mass. 2013).[2]

         Petitioner began dating Amanda Poisson in 2001. By early 2007, they, along with their three-year-old son, Poisson's nine-year-old daughter, and a family friend of Poisson's, were living in a house in Lynn, Massachusetts. The house was being renovated in March of 2007, during which time Petitioner, Poisson, and the two minor children stayed elsewhere. During this time, Poisson decided to end her relationship with Petitioner, so Petitioner moved to an apartment in another city. Poisson and the children moved back to the house in Lynn after the renovations were completed, and around this same time, Poisson began dating Carlos Mejia.

         Although their relationship had ended, Petitioner and Poisson stayed in frequent contact. They also continued to share vehicles, which they exchanged approximately every other day. In April of 2007, Petitioner met Mejia for the first time at a birthday party for Poisson's daughter. Poisson did not tell Petitioner that she and Mejia were dating. One week later, Poisson engaged in sexual intercourse with Petitioner at his apartment where she then spent the night. The following morning, Poisson informed Petitioner that she did not want to rekindle their relationship despite the events of the prior evening.

         Thereafter, on April 19, 2007, Petitioner spent the evening drinking and using cocaine with friends. At the same time, Mejia was visiting Poisson at her house in Lynn. At approximately 3:18 a.m. on April 20, 2007, Petitioner called Poisson and asked if he could spend the night at her house. After being told to go home, Petitioner responded that “the only reason why [she] wouldn't let him in the house is if somebody was there.” Poisson told Petitioner to go home a second time and hung up the phone. Petitioner called back, and Poisson again told him to go home. Petitioner responded, “Did you forget that I have the keys to the house?”[3] and hung up. Id.

         Poisson went downstairs, looked out the living room window, and saw Petitioner's vehicle parked outside. Petitioner was standing on the front porch. He then unlocked the front door, but the door's chain lock prevented him from entering the house. When Poisson declined to join Petitioner outside to talk, he asked if anyone was inside with Poisson, and said that he would leave if that were the case. Poisson then told Petitioner that Mejia was inside watching a movie.

         Upon learning this information, Petitioner smashed several window panes above the front door with a car battery charger pack that had been on the front porch. When Petitioner threatened to break down the door, Poisson let him into the house. Petitioner then used the car battery charger pack to strike Poisson in the head twice. When he tried to hit Poisson a third time, she blocked the attempted blow with her arms.

         Petitioner then went upstairs to Poisson's bedroom where he found Mejia, and told him, “This is what I wanted to see. I wanted to see you here in my house, in my bedroom.” Id. Carol DeChristoforo, a family friend who was renting a room in the house, heard the commotion and called 911. Petitioner left the house for a moment before returning to take his son, who he then locked in a vehicle parked in the driveway.[4] While Petitioner was out of the house with his son, Poisson joined her daughter, Mejia, and DeChristoforo in DeChristoforo's bedroom on the second floor of the house. She was dizzy and bleeding from her head, and told DeChristoforo that she needed an ambulance. DeChristoforo placed a second call to 911.

         Petitioner then returned to the house, went upstairs holding a thirteen-inch kitchen knife, and attempted to force his way into DeChristoforo's bedroom while Mejia tried to use his body to hold the bedroom door closed.[5] Poisson hid in the closet in DeChristoforo's bedroom. Petitioner managed to force the door open enough to reach in with his right arm and swing the knife at Mejia as Mejia continued to try to hold the door closed. Eventually, Petitioner was able to push his upper body through the partially open door. Petitioner then looked at Mejia, swung the knife one last time, and pulled his arm out. Mejia, covered in blood, slid down the wall onto the floor.

         As Petitioner descended the stairs, he shouted, “Yeah, I did it. Yeah, I did it.” As two officers entered the house, they encountered Petitioner, who was still holding the knife. The officers ordered Petitioner to put down the knife and he tossed it onto the couch. After Poisson attempted to assist an officer who was attending to Mejia's wounds, she went downstairs and saw Petitioner in handcuffs. Poisson told Petitioner that he had probably killed Mejia and Petitioner replied, “You cheated on me. You're a whore.” On the way to the police station, Petitioner asked one of the officers, “What would you do if you found your girl with someone else in your home?” Petitioner then answered his own question, saying he would do “whatever it took, ” even if it put him away for “the longest time.” Petitioner also said that he “just cut him once a little bit.”

         Mejia suffered four stab wounds and died from blood loss after being transported to the hospital. Poisson suffered a laceration to the left side of her head that required seventeen staples as a result of being struck twice by the car battery charger pack.

         On May 30, 2007, Petitioner was indicted by a grand jury for murder in the first degree, armed robbery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Following a trial by jury, Petitioner was found guilty of all three counts. The trial judge sentenced Petitioner to life in prison for first-degree murder and to a concurrent term of nine to ten years for assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. [ECF No. 33 at 7]. The Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial on August 11, 2010, which was denied by the trial judge following a hearing. Id. at 9-10. The direct appeal of his convictions and his motion for a new trial were consolidated before the SJC, where Petitioner presented three claims: (1) that counsel was constitutionally ineffective on numerous grounds; (2) that the Commonwealth made an improper closing argument; and (3) that the conviction for armed burglary was duplicative of the predicate felony underlying his conviction for felony-murder. Alcequiecz, 989 N.E.2d at 476. The SJC affirmed the convictions for first-degree murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, and dismissed the conviction of armed burglary as duplicative. Id. at 482-83.

         On April 7, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for federal habeas corpus review of his state court conviction, raising four claims [ECF No. 1], and requesting that the case be stayed pending the exhaustion of his state court remedies [ECF No. 2]. This Court granted a stay on June 9, 2014, at which time Petitioner filed a second motion for a new trial in state court, claiming that his convictions should be vacated because there was newly discovered evidence and his trial counsel had been ineffective for failing to investigate this evidence. [ECF No. 7]. The state court denied his motion for a new trial, and his petition for leave to appeal was denied by a single justice of the SJC because Petitioner did not present a “new and substantial question which ought to be determined by the full court.” S.A. at 201.[6] At that time, Petitioner moved to lift the stay in federal court [ECF No. 20], and filed a memorandum of law in support of his petition for federal habeas corpus review [ECF No. 21]. The stay was lifted on August 6, 2015. [ECF No. 22]. Thereafter, this Court ordered Petitioner to file an amended petition [ECF No. 27], which he did on December 14, 2015, [ECF No. 30]. Respondent filed an answer on January 15, 2016. [ECF No. 32]. Petitioner filed a memorandum of law in support of his amended petition on April 11, 2016 [ECF No. 36], and Respondent filed a memorandum of law in opposition on August 31, 2016 [ECF No. 40].

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A federal district court's review of a state criminal conviction is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). The AEDPA permits a federal court to grant habeas relief after a final state ...


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