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Long v. Medeiros

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 2, 2019

DERYCK LONG, Petitioner,
SEAN MEDEIROS, Respondent.



         This is a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a prisoner in state custody. On March 21, 2011, a Massachusetts jury found petitioner Deryck Long guilty of first-degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

         Long has filed a petition for a writ for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment and an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The petition is based on defense counsel's alleged failure to investigate and introduce evidence obtained from cell-phone records and the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress testimony obtained as a result of an illegal wiretap. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The facts of this case are taken from the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court. See Commonwealth v. Long, 476 Mass. 526 (2017).

         On January 9, 2006, Jamal Vaughan, the victim, was found shot to death in a parking lot behind an apartment complex in Quincy, Massachusetts. Id. at 527-28.

         From late 2005 to early 2006, Deryck Long would frequently stay with his girlfriend, Janet Ojo, at her house on Franklin Street in Quincy. Id. at 527. About two weeks before Vaughan's death, Long and Ojo ended their relationship, apparently over a money dispute. Id. On the night of January 9, 2006, Long asked a friend named Courtney Forde to drive him to Ojo's house to pick up some belongings he had left there. Id. Forde picked him up in his car, bringing along his friend and drug-dealing associate, Paul Brown, and an unidentified woman Forde had recently met. Id.

         When they arrived at Ojo's house around 9:45 p.m., Long got out of the vehicle and went inside. Id. Ojo was not home, but a few of her friends were inside, including Vaughan. Id. Long and Vaughan got into a fistfight about money that Long allegedly stole from Ojo. Id. The fight spilled out onto the front yard. Id. After Brown got out of Forde's car, Vaughan ran back inside the house. Id. Long tried to re-enter the house and threw a brick through one of the windows. Id.

         Long and Brown got back into Forde's car and drove a short distance, then stopped because Long remembered he had left some “IDs” behind in a shoebox. Id. at 527-28. He, Brown, and Forde walked back to Ojo's house. Id. at 528. Vaughan was outside and ran back into the house when he saw them approaching. Id. They drove back to Boston and dropped off the unidentified woman in Milton. Id. They stopped at the house in Mattapan where Long was staying and retrieved his keys to Ojo's house. Id. Forde drove them back to Ojo's house. Id. Nobody was home, and they entered using Long's keys. Id. They took various items, including two handguns stored in a shoebox: a revolver and a Tec-9 semiautomatic pistol. Id. Long put the revolver on his waist. Id.

         Long directed Forde to drive to an apartment building on Willard Street in Quincy where he had stayed with Ojo in the past. Id. Forde called two of his drug customers who lived in the apartment building to ask one of them to open the back door so Long could enter the building. Id. Neither customer answered. Id. Forde parked his car in a dimly-lit spot near some trees, far from the entrance to the building. Id. At the same time, Vaughan left the building to retrieve cigarettes from his car. Id. Long and Brown exited Forde's car, walked over to Vaughan, and shot him several times. Id.

         Around midnight, a neighbor at the apartment building telephoned 911 to report hearing gunshots. Id. Police and emergency services responded to the scene, where they discovered Vaughan with three gunshot wounds. Id. Vaughan was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Id.

         After the shooting, Forde drove back to his house in Boston. Id. Forde then drove to a friend's house, where Long, Brown, and Forde unloaded the items taken from Ojo's house, including a shoebox containing a rusty firearm and its magazine. Id. at 528-29.

         Police recovered two spent projectiles, fired from two different weapons, from Vaughan's body. Id. at 528. Police also recovered seven shell casings, all of which came from the same 9-millimeter pistol, and a spent projectile that was “mostly” consistent with having been shot from a revolver. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         Police arrested Long on January 10, 2006. Id. at 534. On January 20, the Commonwealth obtained a warrant authorizing the placement of a wiretap on a booth in the visiting room at the Norfolk County House of Correction in order to monitor conversations between Long and his visitors. Id. at 533. As a result of the wiretap recordings, police identified another witness, Gillian Gibbs, and obtained more information on Forde's involvement in the shooting. Id.

         Long filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained from the wiretap, which the motion judge allowed. Id. The motion judge concluded that the wiretap did not meet the requirements of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99, because the Commonwealth failed to establish that the offense under investigation was committed in connection with “organized crime.” Id.

         After an evidentiary hearing to determine the scope of the evidence to be suppressed, the motion judge excluded the recording of the conversation between Long and Gibbs, and any testimony by Gibbs. Id. at 534. The judge found that Gibbs's decision to speak with police was directly motivated by the fact that they confronted her with the wiretap evidence. Id. However, the judge did not exclude Forde's testimony, concluding that his decision to testify was ...

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