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Roberts v. Hejirika

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

May 16, 2013

ROBERT DARNELL ROBERTS, #342232 Petitioner,
SOLOMON HEJIRIKA, et al. Respondents.


ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Pending before the court is Petitioner's original Writ of Habeas Corpus, Respondents' Answer, and Petitioner's multiple Replies. (ECF Nos. 1, 16-18, 20-22, 25, 26, 28-34, & 36-46). After review of these papers, the court has determined that no evidentiary hearing is warranted. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(e)((2). For reasons that follow the Petition will be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

Procedural History

According to the record, on April 26, 2006, Petitioner was indicted in the Circuit Court of Cecil County, Maryland for the murder of Tyreak Wilcher. (ECF No. 16 at Ex. 7). The following facts were set out in the post-conviction decision issued by Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Ross on September 4, 2009:

Petitioner was indicted by a Cecil County grand jury on April 26, 2006 on ten (10) separate criminal counts-Murder-First Degree; Murder-Second Degree, Assault-First Degree, Assault-Second Degree; Reckless Endangerment; Attempted Murder-First-Degree; Attempted Murder-Second Degree: Assault First-Degree; Assault-Second Degree; Reckless Endangerment. All of the offenses were alleged to have occurred on April 18, 2006. The victim in the matter involving the first five (5) counts was Tyreak Vonsharron Wilcher while the victim regarding the second five (5) counts, i.e., Counts 6-10, was Elliot Jones. A warrant was ordered and issued on April 27, 2006. Petitioner was served with the warrant on April 28, 2006, and he made his initial Circuit Court appearance that day.
On April 29, 2006, the defendant forwarded the first of a multitude of pro se pleadings to the court. Theses first pleadings filed on May 2, 2006, were motions for discovery and for speedy trial. James Close, Esquire, Assistant Public Defender, entered an appearance on May 10, 2006, together with filing an omnibus motion. A notice thereafter issued, setting motions of September 1, 2006 and jury trial for the week of October 2, 2006. On May 26, 2006, defendant filed pro se motions for bail review and to dismiss. On June 7, 2006, the State's automatic discovery and request for discovery and State's answer to defendant's motion for discovery and inspection were filed. On August 1, 2006, defendant's pro se request for discovery copies was filed. He filed a "notice to court" on August 8, 2006, requesting "no delays, " as well as additional pro se motions, including motions to dismiss and exclude illegal evidence, and for acquittal or dismissal, and an amendment to motion for acquittal. On August 29, 2006, defendant filed a pro se "freedom of information act" request and a writ of mandamus or dismiss. At a motions hearing on September 1, 2006, the motion to suppress statement(s) was denied, except that, according to the docket entries, clothing/DNA was reserved.
On September 20, 2006, petitioner, through counsel, filed a motion to dismiss based on discovery violation(s) related to the disclosure of the "dying declaration." Counsel also requested, by letter on September 27, 2006, access to 115 photos taken of the crime scene, and he filed a motion to postpone [trial]. The latter request was granted at a hearing on September 29, 2006, for good cause shown. On October 23, 2006, a notice of trial issued scheduling trial for the week of March 5, 2007.
On December 4, 2006, through counsel, petitioner filed a motion for subpoena for tangible evidence before trial that was granted, by order, filed December 11, 2006. On February 15, 2007, counsel filed on petitioner's behalf a supplemental request for discovery regarding the "dying declaration, " and a responsive pleading was filed by the State on February 16, 2007. Additionally, counsel filed a copy of a letter sent to the State on February 15, 2007, seeking to assure that any documents that the State was planning to produce at trial for any reason be seen and reviewed by counsel prior thereto. He also petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to be issued for an inmate witness. Prior to trial, counsel filed extensive voir dire, as well as motions in limine seeking to exclude testimony of witnesses regarding blood evidence and potential testimony regarding possession of the bayonet by petitioner prior to the date of the murder.
The matter proceeded with jury selection on March 5, 2007 and a jury of twelve (12) and three (3) alternates was sworn. In the interim, on March 6, 2007, apparently, the parties reached a plea agreement that involved a binding guilty plea. Defense counsel went over the guilty plea form with petitioner on March 6, 2007, the day before the guilty plea, which petitioner, then signed [and also initialed in two places on the form.
At a hearing on March 7, 2007, petitioner waived his right to a jury trial and entered a plea of guilty before Honorable O. Robert Lidums, and he was sentenced the same day by Judge Lidums. In exchange for his guilty plea, the State and the Court agreed to a sentence that included 15 years of executed imprisonment. As part of his guilty plea before the court on March 7, 2007, after being arraigned on the charge of First Degree Assault and placed under oath, petitioner answered the questions from Judge Lidums to assure that his guilty plea was made knowingly and voluntarily and with an understanding of the nature of the charges and the consequences of the guilty plea. Some of the questions that were asked and answered included:
Have you taken any medication or drugs today or have you had any alcoholic beverages to drink today? Answer: No, sir.
* * * *
Is that diagnosis [bi-polar disease] in any way affecting your ability to understand what is going on here today? Answer: No, sir.
Do you know and understand the ten charges that have been lodged against you? Answer: Yes.
All right. Mr. Close have you gone through each and every one of the ten with him? Answer: Yes, Your Honor.
And did you at any time prior to the proceedings being initiated against you receive a copy of the charges? Answer: Yes.
All right. Now, as I'm sure you're aware by now, you're entitled to a trial by a jury in this case? Answer: Yes.
As a matter of fact we've already selected a jury? Answer: Yes.
And do you understand that unless you waive the right to trial by a jury, you will automatically be tried by a jury? Answer: Yes.
Do you understand that if you wished to be tried by a jury, the jury would be made up of twelve citizens of the country who would be chosen in your presence and with your participation, as has been done, from a larger group which in turn has been chosen randomly by computer. Do you understand how the system works? Answer: Yes.
Do you further understand that if you wish to be tried by a jury, all 12 persons on the jury would have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you were guilty of the crimes charged before you can be found guilty? Answer: Yes.
Do you understand that if you are to be tried by a judge, the judge would have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crimes charged ...

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