United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
TALWANI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
McShevens Pierre-Louis filed this petition for a writ of habeas
corpus seeking reversal of his conviction, and later sought
to hold his petition in abeyance. For reasons set forth
below, the court DENIES Petitioner's Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus [#1] and Motion to Hold Habeas
Corpus Petition in Abeyance [#19].
was convicted by a jury on May 10, 2013, of two counts of
armed robbery while masked, and one count of conspiracy to
commit masked armed robbery. Pet. for Habeas Corpus at 1
[#1]. He is currently incarcerated at MCI Shirley, where he
is serving a sentence of 12 to 15 years incarceration.
Id.; Am. Mem. in Supp. of Pet. For Habeas Corpus at
1 (“Pl.'s Am. Mem.”) [#17].
his conviction, Petitioner appealed to the Massachusetts
Appeals Court (“MAC”). See Commonwealth v.
Pierre-Louis, 88 Mass.App.Ct. 1108, 2015 WL 5944438
(Oct. 14, 2015). On October 14, 2015, the MAC upheld
Petitioner's conviction. Id. at *3. Petitioner
filed a timely application for leave to obtain further
appellate review (“ALOFAR”), which was denied on
March 3, 2016. Pet. for Habeas Corpus, Att. 1, Motion for
Leave to File Late Further Appellate Review [#1-1]; Pet. for
Habeas Corpus, Att. 1, Notice of Denial of Application for
Further Appellate Review [#1-1]. On March 10, 2017,
Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas
appeal to the MAC, Petitioner argued that the evidence
presented at trial was insufficient to establish him as one
of the perpetrators, that the trial judge abused her
discretion by failing to give a full
Telfaire-Rodriguez jury instruction alerting jurors
to the possibility of a mistaken witness identification, and
that the trial judge erred in allowing expert testimony
regarding Petitioner's DNA. Pierre-Louis, 2015
WL 5944438, at *1. The petition for habeas relief asserts two
of the claims previously presented to the MAC: first, that
habeas relief is proper because the evidence presented at his
trial was insufficient to establish proof beyond a reasonable
doubt of his guilt, Pl.'s Am. Mem. at 3 [#17]; and
second, that the trial judge abused her discretion by failing
to give a Telfaire-Rodriguez instruction.
Id. at 5.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA), an application for a writ of habeas corpus will not
be granted on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a state court “unless it appears that . . .
the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the
courts of the State.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A).
Exhaustion requires that, before seeking habeas relief, a
petitioner present, or do his best to present, the substance
of a federal habeas claim “fairly and
recognizably” to the state's highest tribunal.
Adelson v. DiPaola, 131 F.3d 259, 262 (1st Cir.
1997); see Clements v. Maloney, 485 F.3d 158, 162
(1st Cir. 2007) (internal citation omitted). “A claim
is fairly presented so long as it is made in such a way that
‘a reasonable jurist' would have recognized
‘the existence of the federal question.'”
Josselyn v. Dennehy, 475 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2007)
(quoting Casella v. Clemons, 207 F.3d 18, 20 (1st
Cir. 2000)). “This means that ‘the legal theory
[articulated] in the state and federal courts must be the
same.'” Clements, 485 F.3d at 162
(alteration in original) (quoting Gagne v. Fair, 835
F.2d 6, 7 (1st Cir. 1987)).
Insufficiency of Evidence
has exhausted his claim of insufficiency of evidence. He
raised the claim during his initial appeal before the MAC.
Pierre-Louis, 2015 WL 5944438, at *1. After his
conviction was affirmed by the MAC, he raised the claim in
his ALOFAR with the Supreme Judicial Court, which was denied.
Commonwealth v. McShevens Pierre-Louis, 473 Mass.
1112 (Mar. 3, 2016). Because this claim has been presented at
every level of the state court system, and has been
exhausted, the court may consider its merits.
federal court can grant habeas relief from a state conviction
only when the state court's decision “was contrary
to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
Under clearly established Federal law, “proof of a
criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt is constitutionally
required.” In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 362
reviewing court does not ask “whether the evidence was
constitutionally sufficient, ” but only “whether
the state court's ruling that the evidence is
constitutionally sufficient was itself
‘unreasonable.'” Winfield v.
O'Brien, 775 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2014) (quoting 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)). A court evaluating such a habeas
petition must review all facts in the light most favorable to
the prosecution and ask whether “any rational
trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979) (emphasis in
original). “In conducting its review of a state-court
conviction for evidentiary sufficiency, a habeas court may
not freely reweigh competing inferences but must accept those
reasonable inferences that are most compatible with the
jury's verdict.” Magraw v. Roden, 743 F.3d
1, 7 (1st Cir. 2014).
Petitioner argues that the evidence presented in his criminal
trial was insufficient to identify him as a perpetrator, and
therefore no rational trier of facts could have found the
essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Pl.'s Am. Mem. at 3 [#17]. He argues that no witnesses
identified him as present at the crime scene during the night
in question, and the sole piece of evidence linking him to
the crime was a T-shirt containing his DNA found near the
store, which he asserts is not enough to prove his guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 4-5. Respondent
argues that, under the highly deferential standard of review
governing habeas petitions, this court should defer to the
MAC in its rejection of Petitioner's “insufficient
evidence” claim. Resp't's Mem. of Law