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Bowers v. Morgan

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 27, 2014

JEROME BOWERS, #265564,
v.
WARDEN JOSEPH P. MORGAN & THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Pending is Jerome Bowers' ("Bowers") petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. Respondents, by their counsel, have filed a response, (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 9), to which Bowers has replied, (Pet.'s Reply, ECF No. 10, at 12). After consideration of the pleadings, exhibits, and applicable law, the court finds a hearing is unnecessary to resolve this matter. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011); Rule 8, "Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts." The motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Bowers, who is self-represented, is challenging his 2006 conviction in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland for assault, reckless endangerment, and use of a deadly weapon.

I. Trial

The facts adduced at Bowers' jury trial in the Circuit Court for Washington County are summarized as follows. On June 14, 2005, William Anderson ("Anderson"), an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Washington County was stabbed in the "rec room" of Housing Unit 7. (Ex. 2 at 27, 34-36, 105.)[1] A homemade knife, described as a "shank, " was found behind a television in the same room. ( See id. at 43-45, 73-74.) Anderson, who lived on the same tier as Bowers, identified Bowers from a photograph as the person who stabbed him. ( See id. at 55-58, 106, 146.) Anderson knew Bowers only as "Fat Man." ( Id. at 56, 106.) Anderson signed a written statement, which the prosecutor described at trial:

The victim says he was on the top of the 7-A tier at around 1:05 p.m. and he said he was attacked by a "dark skinned heavy-set guy with long hair." "He struck me twice in the back with a pointed object." "And then I grabbed for it" and he started to grab him in the chest. "And I knew the guy's name to be Fat Man.'"

( Id. at 58, 147.) The shank used to assault Anderson was processed for fingerprints and submitted for DNA analysis. ( See id. at 65-68.) Bowers' DNA was found under tape that was wrapped around the handle of the shank. ( See id. at 87, 96.) Unknown DNA was also found on the shank. ( See id. at 87-90.)

Anderson did not testify in the State's case. In the defense case, Anderson testified that he was "not a hundred percent sure" that Bowers was the person who stabbed him. ( Id. at 101, 106-11.)[2] When asked whether Bowers inflicted the puncture wounds Anderson sustained during the attack, Anderson testified "[n]ot to my knowledge." ( Id. at 101.) Anderson testified that he had been transferred between institutions for his protection. ( Id. at 102-03.) Anderson acknowledged that he was serving a lesser sentence because his "wife cooperated with the State." ( Id. at 109.)

Bowers testified at trial that he did not stab Anderson. ( Id. at 118.) The jury convicted Bowers of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. ( Id. at 160-62.) He was sentenced to serve six years in prison consecutive to the sentence he was then serving. ( Id. at 168.)

II. Appeal

Bowers raised two issues on appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland: 1) whether the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial; and 2) whether the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain his convictions. (Ex. 3 at 2; see also Ex. 4 at 1-2; Ex. 6 at 1.) By unreported opinion filed on September 18, 2008, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Bowers' convictions. (Ex. 6.) On December 30, 2008, the Court of Appeals denied certiorari. (Ex. 8.)

III. Post-Conviction

On March 10, 2009, Bowers filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Washington County and raised these allegations of error:

(A) the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence;
(B) the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence;
(C) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise on appeal that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence;
(D) trial counsel was ineffective for:
(1) failing to strike a juror;
(2) failing to request a ruling on the motion for mistrial;
(3) failing to subpoena or call alibi witnesses; and
(4) failing to investigate Anderson prior to calling him as a witness; and
(E) the State's expert testified beyond her qualifications.

( See Exs. 9, 10). The Circuit Court held a hearing on Bowers' post-conviction petition on December 22, 2009. Bowers and his trial counsel, Stephen Musselman, testified during the hearing. (Ex. 11 at 10-48, 63-82.) By Memorandum Opinion dated January 28, 2010, the court denied Bowers' petition on all grounds. (Ex. 12.)

Subsequently, Bowers filed an application for leave to appeal the denial of his postconviction petition, raising the following claims:

(A) the trial court violated his right to confrontation;
(B) the trial court improperly admitted hearsay;
(C) the prosecutor committed misconduct by suborning perjury;
(D) trial counsel was ineffective for:
(1) failing to subpoena or call alibi witnesses,
(2) failing to investigate Anderson prior to calling him ...

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