United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
December 29, 2011, Petitioner Miguel Roman was convicted of
deliberately premeditated murder and possession of a class B
substance. Currently pending before the Court is a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254, in which Petitioner asserts that the evidence was
insufficient to sustain his murder conviction. [ECF No. 1].
For the reasons stated herein, the petition for a writ of
habeas corpus is denied.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”)
provided the following account of the facts of the case as
the jury could have found them.
Shortly before midnight on January 28, 2010, Angel Gonzalez
(Angel) called the [Petitioner] on his cellular telephone to
arrange a purchase of cocaine. Angel and Luis Soto then drove
to a night club in Holyoke where [Petitioner] sold them
cocaine. They traveled in a grey four-door 2006 Nissan Altima
owned by Soto's girl friend. They then drove to a bar in
Holyoke, ingesting the cocaine en route.
At about 12:56 a.m. on January 29, Angel's mother called
Angel on his cellular telephone and told him that the victim
was at the Holyoke Medical Center and needed a ride. Soto,
Angel, and Angel's brother Felipe left the bar in the
Altima. They drove to the hospital and went inside to get the
victim. The four men then returned to the bar. After about
one hour they all left together. Angel called [Petitioner] on
his cellular telephone to arrange another purchase of
cocaine. Angel's cellular telephone records showed three
calls that connected with the [Petitioner's] cellular
telephone between 1:30 a.m. and 1:52 a.m. They drove to the
night club to meet [Petitioner]. Angel and the victim got out
of the car and went inside the club. When they returned,
[Petitioner] was with them and the three men entered the
Soto was driving; Angel was in the front passenger seat;
[Petitioner] sat behind Soto; Felipe was behind Angel; and
the victim sat between [Petitioner] and Felipe. [Petitioner]
told Soto to drive. They proceeded down High Street.
[Petitioner] directed Soto to turn right onto Essex Street.
[Petitioner] pulled out a handgun and shot the victim twice
in the left rear side of his head. Soto stopped the car and
shifted into the “park” position. Felipe got out
of the car and ran toward High Street. Angel got out of the
car and stood nearby for a short time before running toward
High Street. Soto was the third to get out of the car. He
hesitated because he was concerned about abandoning his girl
friend's car, but then he left and ran toward High
[Petitioner] was the last person to get out of the Altima. He
walked around the rear of the car, opened the rear
passenger's side door and fired a third shot into the
victim's right temple. He then got into the driver's
seat of the Altima and sped off. [Petitioner] turned onto
Newton Street where he stopped and dumped the victim's
body in the road. In the meantime, Felipe, Angel, and Soto
made their way to Sam's Food, a nearby store on High
Street. [Petitioner] called Angel's cellular telephone at
2:04:07 a.m. The call connected for forty-four seconds. The
Altima, driven by [Petitioner], arrived at Sam's Food
store shortly thereafter. [Petitioner] left the car there,
and left the scene himself. The others then drove away in the
Altima. Soto turned himself in to police the next day.
Commonwealth v. Roman, 18 N.E.3d 1069, 1071 (Mass.
a jury trial in the Hampden County Superior Court, Petitioner
was found guilty of deliberately premeditated murder and
possession of a class B substance (cocaine). [ECF No. 1 at
1]. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder
conviction and to a concurrent one-year House of Correction
sentence for the possession conviction. Id.
appealed his convictions on the following grounds: (1)
insufficiency of the evidence; (2) the denial of his right to
a speedy trial; (3) prosecutorial misconduct in the delayed
production of discovery; (4) the trial court's failure to
declare a mistrial due to jury tampering by the victim's
family; and (5) an erroneous jury instruction regarding the
testimony of a cooperating witness. Roman, 18 N.E.3d
at 1071. He also requested that the SJC exercise its power
under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, § 33E to reverse his
convictions and either order a new trial or reduce the
conviction of murder to a lesser degree. Id. On
November 4, 2014, the SJC affirmed the convictions and
declined to exercise its authority under § 33E.
Id. On January 26, 2016, Petitioner filed this
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting a single
claim that the SJC misapplied the sufficiency of the evidence
standard and made unreasonable factual determinations
concerning the murder conviction. [ECF No. 1].
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) permits federal courts to grant habeas
corpus relief on a claim “adjudicated on the merits ...