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Blake v. Medeiros

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 14, 2017

RONALD BLAKE, Petitioner,
SEAN MEDEIROS, Defendants.



         After considering the Magistrate Judge's August 28, 2017, Report and Recommendation [#40], and noting that there has been no objection, the court hereby ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation [#40] for the reasons set forth therein. Petitioner Ronald Blake's Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus [#1] is DENIED.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.


         August 28, 2017


          DONALD L. CABELL, U.S.M.J.


         Ronald Blake (“Blake” or “the petitioner”) is currently incarcerated at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk following his 2007 state court conviction for armed assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He seeks habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, on two grounds. He argues first that the trial court erred in refusing to suppress evidence of an impermissibly suggestive identification procedure. He argues also that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to adequately investigate or challenge the prosecution's timeline of events. (Dkt. No. 1). After careful consideration of the records, it is recommended that the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus be DENIED.


         A. The Underlying Crime

         As summarized by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the jury could have found the following facts:[1]

The convictions in these cases arose from the beating and robbery at knife point of Gregory Kendrick in the early morning hours of June 3, 2006. Kendrick was employed as a cab driver by Bluebird Cab Company located in New Bedford. Based on the evidence presented at trial, the jury could have found that Kendrick picked up the defendants just before 5:00 A.M. and drove them to Reynolds Street in New Bedford. Kendrick estimated that the ride took between seven and eight minutes. Upon arriving at the Reynolds Street address, the defendants robbed Kendrick and then drove the cab to Sullivan Drive in Westport where they left Kendrick on the side of the road, bleeding from a stab wound to the arm. Kendrick managed to seek assistance at a nearby fire station and was transported to [St. Luke's hospital in New Bedford]. Meanwhile, a security camera at the Fall River Pier recorded the arrival of Kendrick's cab containing two men at 5:11 A.M. and their departure on foot several minutes after, wearing clothing similar to the defendants' at the time of arrest. The cab was later found parked behind the Water Street Café, at 36 Water Street in Fall River.

Commonwealth v. Gomes, Nos. 10-P-2235, 12-P-767, 2014 WL 470361, at *1 (Mass. App. Ct. February 7, 2014).

         B. The State Court Proceedings

         On July 14, 2006, the grand jury indicted Blake and a co-defendant, Jorge Gomes, on charges of: (1) armed assault with intent to murder; (2) armed robbery; (3) assault and battery; (4) assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; and (5) kidnapping. (Dkt. 15, Volume I, S.A. 4; hereinafter [S.A. [page]).[2]

         On May 24, 2007, the petitioner moved to suppress an out-of-court identification that was based on a single photograph. (S.A. 5, 78-84). The relevant facts as found by the trial court on this issue (and as subsequently implicitly adopted by the Appeals Court (S.A. 127)) are as follows:

After leaving the scene, [Westport Police Seargent] Sullivan accompanied by Westport Police Sergeant Cestidio (“Cestidio”), proceeded to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and spoke to the victim. He was in contact and alert. He confirmed the description of the assailants as one dark skinned and one light skinned. The officers then went to the Bluebird Cab Company and determined that the victim's last pick up was at 103 Ruth Street in New Bedford. They then proceeded to Ruth Street. Before they entered 103 Ruth Street, an unknown older woman on the sidewalk told them that they should check the third floor. The identity of this person was not subsequently determined.
103 Ruth Street was a three story residential building with an apartment on each floor and a common entry way. The officers entered the building and walked up to the third floor landing, knocked on apartment 3 and a female opened the door. The female, who identified herself as “Paula, ” was later identified as Paula Calisto. She said she was the tenant of the apartment.
The officers asked Paula if there was anyone else in the apartment, to which she answered, “No one.” Cestidio asked her what was behind a closed door he could see from the entry way. She said she had a friend inside. The officers asked if she minded if they could check, and she replied, “Not at all.” Upon the door being opened, the officers found the defendants sleeping on a large bed. They were dressed. The officers woke up the defendants, but it took them about 10 minutes to rouse themselves effectively from sleep.
The defendants and their clothing matched the general description Sullivan had been given of the assailants.
After the defendants pulled themselves together, the officers spoke with them separately for about 15-20 minutes. Cestidio spoke with Gomes and Sullivan spoke with Blake.
Asked what he had done the prior night, Blake said that they had gone to a couple of friends' houses. Asked by Sullivan whether they had taken a cab, Blake answered affirmatively.
No Miranda warnings were given, Sullivan stated, because the defendants at that point ...

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