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Spencer v. Shearin

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

November 26, 2013

THURMAN SPENCER, JR., Petitioner,
v.
BOBBY SHEARIN, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROGER W. TITUS, District Judge.

A Response to the above-captioned Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, along with exhibits and the Petitioner's Reply, have been filed. The matter is now ready for dispositive review. The Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. ยง2254(e)(2)). For the reasons that follow, the Petition will be denied and dismissed with prejudice, and a Certificate of Appealability will not be issued.

Factual and Procedural History

Petitioner was charged and convicted, after a jury trial, of first-degree rape, armed robbery, burglary, and a related handgun offense in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. ECF No. 14, Ex. 1. The facts developed at trial, as recounted by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, are as follows:

On October 15, 1998, Ontay Hill was living with his girlfriend, Melanie M., in an apartment at 121 Willow Bend in Owings Mills. The couple had been dating for about two years. Hill drove up to his residence at 10:30 p.m. on October 15th. When Hill began to climb the steps to his apartment, a man who "had a cut across his face[, ]" came running up behind him. A second man who was wearing a mask and was in possession of a handgun also approached Hill.
The masked man put a gun to his head and told Hill to give him his keys. After Hill did so, he was handcuffed and then hit in the back of his head with a gun.
The two strangers walked to Hill's apartment where one of the men unlocked the front door and Hill, accompanied by the two men, entered the apartment. Once they were inside the apartment, Melanie M., who was dressed in a long nightshirt, came out of the bedroom whereupon one of the intruders pointed a gun at her.
The men handcuffed Melanie M. and forced her to lay on the floor. The men kept saying that they were looking for $50, 000, but Melanie M. told them that she and Hill did not have that amount of money. Hill, who was also forced to lay on the floor, stared at the unmasked intruder, which caused the man to warn Hill that if he kept staring at him he was going to be killed.
Hill and Melanie M. were next taken into the kitchen. The men then asked once again: "where was the $50, 000." Hill told the gunmen that he was working for his uncle, who owned a bar, and was paid "under the table, " but didn't make $50, 000. He also said that the only money he had was on his person; which was "[a] hundred and some dollars[.]" The men took Hill's wallet and his gold chain.
The men next went into the bedroom, looked around, and repeatedly asked where the money was. They then looked for Hill's car keys, but could not find them. Melanie M. gave the men the keys to her car. The men put Hill in the bathroom, forced him to sit on the toilet, told him not to move, and closed the door.
From inside the bathroom, Hill heard another door close and believed that one of the men had left. He then heard Melanie M. "saying please don't rape me, please don't rape me." Hill also heard her struggling and crying and saying "I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant, if you're going to rape me, I have condoms in the bedroom."
Hill next heard Melanie M. and one of the men enter the bedroom. Hill who was still handcuffed, cracked the bathroom door to see that the intruders were no longer in the hallway and "eased out" of the bathroom and "peeked" into the bedroom where he "saw Melanie laying across the bed and a guy... was over top of her." The man had a gun laying on the bed. Hill "eased past" the bedroom door, went out the front door, and ran down the steps.
He rang several doorbells (with his-forehead), but no one responded. He ran to an adjoining apartment building where a woman answered his ring. Hill told the woman that he and his girlfriend were being robbed and asked her to call the police. A few seconds after speaking with the woman, the man with the cut across his face was seen by Hill returning to the apartment building so Hill ran and hid in the woods.
Three leather coats, a Nintendo 64 game system, and a cordless telephone, along with Hill's money and gold chain, were taken from Hill's apartment by the robbers.
Hill recalled that on the date in question, but prior to the home invasion, he saw a man outside his apartment building "at the top of the hill... just standing out there the whole day." Hill added: "Every time I'd ride by, he was just standing out there." Hill estimated he drove in and out of the complex, where he lived, two or three times that day. From the man's location at the top of the hill, the man could see the entrance to Hill's apartment building. Hill testified that he did not know appellant on sight, but that he had heard of him because he (appellant) was the father of two of his cousin's children.

B. Testimony of Melanie M.

At approximately 10:00 p.m., on October 15, 1998, Melanie M. returned home from her job at a food market. Later, she heard the door open and then saw two men, who were accompanied by Hill. Both men were black and were strangers. One of the men was wearing a mask. Hill's hands were handcuffed behind him and a second person, who was not-masked, was standing behind Hill and appeared to be holding onto him.
The rest of her testimony corroborated the testimony of Mr. Hill. Additionally, Melanie M. testified that she was raped by the masked gunman. She did not know appellant and could not identify the man who raped her.
Melanie M. was asked if she had ever dated appellant. She responded in the negative. She testified that during the time in question, she was faithful to Hill, and had never met appellant prior to the rape. In addition, the sheets on the bed on the date in question were clean because they were washed once a week. According to Melanie M., there was no reason, other than the fact that she had been raped, for appellant's semen to be on her sheets.

C. Testimony of Laura Pawlowski

Laura Pawlowski is an employee in the Baltimore County Police Department forensic laboratory's biology unit. Her job is to examine evidence to "determine if there are any body fluid stains, hairs, skin, [or] fibers on the items recovered from crime scenes." When such items are ...

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