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Faulk v. Medeiros

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 27, 2018

KENNETH FAULK, Petitioner,
v.
SEAN MEDEIROS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          William G. Young, Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Kenneth Faulk (“Faulk”) is a state prisoner who was convicted of murder in the second degree and carrying a firearm without a license in the Massachusetts Superior Court sitting in and for the County of Plymouth on November 18, 2010. On September 26, 2016, Faulk filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging these convictions. Respondent Sean Medeiros (“Medeiros”) opposes the petition.

         For the reasons discussed below, this Court DENIES Faulk's habeas corpus petition.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Faulk was indicted for murder in the first degree and for carrying a firearm without a license. Pet'r's Mem. Supp. Pet. Habeas Corpus Relief (“Pet'r's Mem.”) 2, ECF No. 30. On November 18, 2010, after a jury trial in the Massachusetts Superior Court, the jury found the petitioner guilty of the lesser included offense of murder in the second degree and guilty of the firearms charge. Id.

         The Massachusetts Appeals Court summarized the evidence introduced at Faulk's trial as follows:

As shown by videotape surveillance footage obtained from a camera system installed at the scene, on April 30, 2007, [Faulk] entered 33 Dover Street, Brockton, with the victim, Derrick Wilson, right behind him. [Faulk] stopped, turned, and appeared to speak to the victim. The victim then followed the defendant up a set of stairs. Two minutes later, the victim slid feet first down the stairs, and lay at the foot of the stairs, struggling. Within seconds, [Faulk] came down the stairs, stepped over the victim, and left the building. A few minutes later, [Faulk] returned with a female companion, and kicked the victim's foot and his head.
According to the medical examiner, the victim died from a gunshot wound to the chest. It appears from the video footage that no one entered or left through the second-floor door at the time of the incident. There was evidence that the third floor of the building was locked. When [Faulk] initially spoke with police, he told them that he had not entered the building with the victim. After being shown still images from the video, he acknowledged his presence but claimed not to know if he had heard gunshots, or if there had been any kind of fight or struggle on the stairs. He said that he kicked the victim to wake him up.
A cigarette butt at the second-floor landing was linked to [Faulk] by deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence, and a projectile found in the wall at the top of the second-floor landing was linked to the victim by DNA evidence. However, no weapon or shell casings were recovered. Strands of “Mardis Gras” beads worn by the victim were broken, and beads were found scattered -- including one at the top of the landing -- suggesting a struggle.

Commonwealth v. Faulk, No. 11-P-1663, 2016 WL 767584, at *1 (Mass. App. Ct. Feb. 29, 2016).

         The trial judge sentenced Faulk to life on the murder charge and four to five years on the firearm charge to run concurrent with the sentence imposed on the murder charge. Pet'r's Mem. 2. The petitioner timely appealed on November 23, 2010.[1] Id. Faulk filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied without a hearing on June 6, 2014. Id. On June 13, 2014, Faulk timely appealed the order denying his motion for a new trial and the Appeals Court affirmed the judgment of his convictions and the denial of his motion for a new trial. Id. In March 2016, Faulk filed an application for leave to obtain further appellate review (“ALOFAR”) in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Pet'r's Mem. 3. The Supreme Judicial Court denied Faulk's ALOFAR on March 31, 2016. Id.

         On September 26, 2016, Faulk filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus (“Pet'r's Pet.”), ECF No. 1. On May 1, 2017, Faulk moved for leave to amend the petition, seeking to add two more claims, and Medeiros opposed the motion. Pet'r's Mot. Am., ECF No. 27; Resp't's Opp'n Mot. Am., ECF No. 28. On May 15, 2017, this Court denied Faulk's motion to amend, explaining that allowing the motion would render the petition a mixed petition subject to dismissal. Electronic Order, ECF No. 29. On May 22, 2017, Faulk filed a memorandum of law in support of his petition, Pet'r's Mem., which Medeiros opposed, Resp't's Mem. Opp'n Pet. Habeas Corpus (“Resp't's Opp'n”), ECF No. 35.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The standard of review of habeas corpus petitions is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 97 (2011). Under this standard, a federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the underlying state court adjudication resulted in a decision that either “(1) ‘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) ‘was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'” Brown v. Ruane, 630 F.3d 62, 66-67 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2)).

A state court['s] decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law . . . if it “contradicts the governing law set forth in the Supreme Court's cases or confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of the Supreme Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from its precedent.”

Id. at 67 (quoting John v. Russo, 561 F.3d 88, 96 (1st Cir. 2009)). A state court's decision involves an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law “if the state court ‘identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.'” Id. (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000)) (alteration in original).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), “‘a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct.' The petitioner bears the burden of overcoming that presumption by providing ‘clear and convincing evidence.'” Teti v. Bender, 507 F.3d 50, 57 (1st Cir. 2007) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). “The ‘presumption of correctness is equally applicable when a state appellate court, as opposed to a ...


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