United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
EDMOND J. CARRIERE, JR., Petitioner,
SUPERINTENDENT SEAN MEDEIROS, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS
Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.
a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Petitioner Edmond J.
Carriere, Jr., was convicted by a jury in state court of one
count of first-degree murder under theories of deliberate
premeditation and extreme atrocity and cruelty.
Commonwealth v. Carriere, 470 Mass. 1, 3 (2014). He
was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the
possibility of parole.
alleges three grounds for relief: (1) that his Sixth
Amendment right to confrontation and Fourteenth Amendment
right to a fair trial were violated by the trial judge's
admission of numerous hearsay statements; (2) that he was
denied his right to due process when the trial judged
precluded him from eliciting purportedly admissible and
exculpatory evidence from a witness; and (3) that his due
process rights were violated because of the prosecutor's
improprieties during his closing argument. For the following
reasons, the petition will be denied.
facts of this case are set out in detail in the decision of
the Supreme Judicial Court.
Carriere was found stabbed to death in her home in Bourne,
Massachusetts, on January 3, 1980. Carriere, 470
Mass. at 3. Prior to her death, Frances and her husband,
Edmond J. Carriere, Jr., had been in the midst of a
tumultuous divorce. Id. at 4. Carriere believed
Frances would take the home and “everything else”
from him, and she refused to accept Carriere's offer of
money in exchange for her “just [going] away.”
three months before Frances's death, Carriere asked his
friends Charles Berryman and Russell Breault whether they had
any desire to make some money by killing Frances.
Carriere, 470 Mass. at 4. Carriere offered them $2,
000 for the murder, but Berryman and Breault thought Carriere
was merely joking. Id. In December 1979, Carriere
revisited the idea of Frances's murder and asked another
friend, Richard Grebauski, if he “knew anyone big, big
and black that would go in there and do things to his wife
that she would never forget.” Id. at 4-5.
Grebauski's then-girlfriend, Shannon Glover, and friend,
Steven Stewart, both overheard Carriere talking about his
wish that his wife were dead. Carriere, 470 Mass. at
Grebauski told Stewart that Carriere had offered him $5, 000
to kill Frances and asked Stewart if he wanted to
participate. Carriere, 470 Mass. at 5. Although he
initially declined, Stewart eventually agreed to the proposal
because he owed Grebauski $500 for prior cocaine purchases.
December 10, 1979, Carriere and his minor daughter traveled
to Florida to visit his older daughter, Linda McCraney.
Carriere, 470 Mass. at 5. During the visit, Carriere
made contentious remarks regarding Frances, including calling
her a whore who slept with everybody on Cape Cod and stating
that she would be sorry for continuing with the divorce.
January 3, 1980, Carriere called Grebauski to tell him that
Frances had to be killed that night because his
daughter's school break was ending and they needed to
return to Massachusetts. Carriere, 470 Mass. at 5.
Grebauski retrieved a fillet knife from his kitchen and a
pair of gloves. Id. Grebauski handed the materials
to Stewart and instructed him to walk into the Carriere
family house and stab Frances in the heart. Id. at
5-6. Stewart went to the house, found Frances in the
bathroom, and stabbed her after a struggle in which she hit
her head on the radiator. Id. at 6. Stewart then
disposed of the knife and gloves in the Cape Cod Canal and
drove to his grandmother's home in Brockton. Id.
Upon arriving in Brockton, Stewart contacted Grebauski to
tell him the job was done. Id.
thereafter, Carriere went to Grebauski's house, where
Grebauski and Stewart were playing pool, to deliver the
money. Carriere, 470 Mass. at 7. Although satisfied
that Frances was dead, Carriere was outraged Stewart and
Grebauski had not disposed of Frances's body and had not
also killed Carriere's son, and he threatened not to pay
the full amount. Id. However, Carriere eventually
acquiesced and threw $10, 000 down on Grebauski's pool
table. Grebauski and Stewart then engaged in their own
contentious debate regarding the proper allocation of the
money. Id. Ultimately, Stewart received $4, 500 for
the murder-the $5000 he was initially promised minus the $500
he owed to Grebauski. Id.
22, 2012, a jury in Barnstable County Superior Court
convicted Carriere of one count of first-degree murder under
theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity and
cruelty. Carriere was sentenced to a term of natural life
without the possibility of parole. He appealed his conviction
on June 15, 2012, directly to the Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court (“SJC”) pursuant to Mass. Gen.
Laws ch. 278, § 33E. The SJC denied his appeal on
October 28, 2014. Carriere did not seek further review from
the United States Supreme Court.
timely filed the present petition on October 1, 2015,
claiming violations of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
amended petition presents four grounds: (1) that Carriere was
“denied his right to a fair trial by the admission of
prejudicial inadmissible hearsay; and his right to
confrontation under the Sixth Amendment was violated by the
admission of such evidence and thus it was contrary to, an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Supreme
Court precedent”; (2) “the defendant was denied
his constitutional right to a fair trial when the
Commonwealth was permitted to introduce incredibly
prejudicial and irrelevant evidence that the defendant wanted
his son killed and that he wanted a big black man to
‘do things to his wife that she would never
forget'”; (3) he was “denied his due process
right to a fair trial when the trial court precluded him from
eliciting crucial testimony that Grebauski admitted to
Mello ‘I offed the bitch'”; and (4)
“the SJC's decision denied petitioner's
Fourteenth Amendment right to due process when it allowed the
prosecution to introduce highly inflammatory closing argument
which contained misstatement of law.” (Am. Pet. at 19,
28, 32, 43).
filed an opposition on October 25, 2016. On June 22, 2017,
the Court entered an order finding that the second ground of
the petition had not been exhausted, and directing Carriere
to dismiss all claims or proceed solely on the exhausted
claims. Carriere elected to dismiss the second ground in
order to proceed on his other claims.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), a federal court may not issue a
habeas petition “with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings”
unless the state court decision (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.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d).
state-court decision is “contrary to” clearly
established federal law if it (1) “applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme
Court's] cases” or (2) resolves a case differently
from the Supreme Court on a set of “materially
indistinguishable” facts. Early v. Packer, 537
U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). In either scenario, the state-court
decision must be “substantially different, ”
“diametrically different, ” “opposite in
character or nature, ” or “mutually
opposed” to Supreme Court precedent. Williams,
529 U.S. at 405.
state-court decision involves an “unreasonable
application” of federal law if the state court
identified the correct governing legal principle from the
Supreme Court's decisions, but applied it in an
objectively unreasonable manner. See Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75-76 (2003) (citing
Williams, 529 U.S. at 409). The Supreme Court has
cautioned that “[a]n unreasonable application
of federal law is different from an incorrect
application of federal law.” Williams, 529
U.S. at 365. The state court's application of federal law
must be “more than incorrect or erroneous.”
Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 75 (citing Williams,
529 U.S. at 410, 412); see also Teti v.
Bender, 507 F.3d 50, 57 (1st Cir. 2007) (“A
decision can still be reasonable even if the reviewing court
thinks it is wrong; ‘unreasonable' here means
something more than incorrect or erroneous.”).
if it is a close question whether the state decision is in
error, then the state decision cannot be an unreasonable
application . . . . [S]ome increment of incorrectness beyond
error is required. The increment need not necessarily be
great, but it must be great enough to make the decision