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Martinez v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 8, 2018

RONNEY MARTINEZ, Petitioner,
v.
KELLY RYAN Respondent.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON PETITIONER'S PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (Docket No. 1)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 17, 2012, Ronney Martinez (“Martinez”) was convicted of three counts of home invasion, breaking and entering in the nighttime to commit a felony, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, unlawful carrying of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Martinez appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which affirmed his conviction on September 4, 2014. Commonwealth v. Morales, 86 Mass.App.Ct. 1110, 2014 WL 4355625 (Sept. 4, 2014), review denied, 470 Mass. 1103, 23 N.E.3d 105 (2014). Martinez sought further appellate review by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which denied his petition on November 26, 2014. See Commonwealth v. Martinez, 470 Mass. 1103, 23 N.E.3d 105 (2014). On June 7, 2016, Martinez petitioned this Court for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Martinez alleged the following grounds for relief:

Ground One: The Commonwealth failed to provide legally sufficient evidence of each essential element of the firearms offenses to support the judgement of conviction. Specifically, there was insufficient evidence that Martinez possessed a firearm or was aware that another person had such a firearm. Therefore, Martinez was denied due process of law.
Ground Two: The Prosecutor's closing argument was highly improper and denied Martinez a fair trial.
Ground Three: Martinez did not receive effective assistance of counsel.

         For the reasons stated below, Martinez's petition for writ for habeas corpus (Docket No. 1) is denied, subject to the conditions described.

         Background

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

Madeline, Jaritza, and Audeliz Nieves are siblings. All of them share a second-floor apartment in a three-story apartment building located at 312 Liberty Street in Springfield.
The defendants [Jonathon Morales, Jean Pinero, and Martinez] were in attendance. Madeline and one of her brothers tried to disperse guests who had loitered on the grounds after the party. A fight ensued, erupting into a melee.
After the melee, Pinero verbally threatened the Nieves family. The Nieves family retreated back into the apartment building. The defendants forced their way through the rear exterior door and pursued them. Madeline saw the defendants climbing the stairs just before she and her family made it to their second-floor apartment. She closed and locked the apartment door. Less than thirty seconds after the downstairs break-in, multiple gunshots were fired through the door to the Nieves's apartment. One shot hit Madeline. She could not see who fired the shots.
Two guests telephoned 911. Police officers arrived within minutes. A group outside the building warned police that another group nearby had a gun. That other group included the defendants.
As the officers approached him, Morales fled and then resisted arrest, but was subdued by the police. He was driven to a site for a showup. He stood at least thirty feet away from witnesses and yelled, “Any of you niggas identify me, I will be back to kill you.” Jaritza sat in a police cruiser during the showup and did not hear the threat; she identified the defendants as the ones who broke into the building.
The police found no weapons on the defendants. The gun that shot Madeline never was recovered. Gunshot residue (GSR) tests on the defendants and on samples ...

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