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Nalls v. Shearin
United States District Court, D. Maryland
October 9, 2014
DONTE NALLS, #362086, Petitioner,
BOBBY P. SHEARIN,  et al., Respondents.
JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.
Petitioner Donte Nalls (hereinafter referred to as "Nalls") seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, attacking the constitutionality of his 2009 convictions in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. ECF No. 1. Respondents' answer to the petition and Nalls's reply remain pending. ECF Nos. 7 & 10. After 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, and Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)).
Background and Procedural History
As recounted by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the evidence adduced at trial was the following:
Cassie Harris testified that, on April 18, 2009, she and some friends went to a club on Ponca Street in Baltimore City. While there she encountered appellant, whom she knew as an acquaintance though Brian and Moses Santiago. Ms. Harris had previously dated Brian Santiago, appellant's cousin. Brian had visited her numerous times at her home on St. Claire Lane in Baltimore County, where Ms. Harris resided with her mother, step-father, and younger siblings.
While at the club, her conversation with appellant escalated into a physical confrontation. Appellant pushed her, and his brother "Woody" (later identified as Elwood Lewis), punched Ms. Harris in the face. The owners of the club took Ms. Harris to the kitchen, and the other patrons were "cleared out."
Ms. Harris and her friends then went to the Harris home, arriving there between 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. After speaking with her mother, Ms. Harris testified that she and her friends retired to her bedroom, which was located in the basement of the house.
Approximately two weeks earlier, Ms. Harris and her parents had switched bedrooms. For approximately five years, Ms. Harris occupied the bedroom located on the second floor of the house facing the back alley, and her parents occupied the basement bedroom. The second floor bedroom is located above the back porch, which is covered by a roof supported by three pillars. The bedroom has a double window located just above the porch roof. Ms. Harris testified that, during the years she occupied the second floor bedroom, she and her friends "many times" accessed the bedroom by climbing the pillars to the porch roof and entering through the window.
Sometime after retiring in the early morning hours of April 19, 2009, Ms. Harris heard a "bang" or "really loud like crash" and heard her mother scream. Ms. Harris ran upstairs and observed her mother and step-father on the floor of the bedroom (previously Ms. Harris' bedroom) and "blood everywhere."
Dontrell Jones, Ms. Harris' step-father, testified that, at approximately 5:00 a.m. while sleeping in their bed in the second-floor bedroom, he heard what sounded like "firecrackers." He then realized that he and his wife had been shot. Mr. Jones sustained several gunshot wounds, including two to his foot and one to his thigh. Mr. Jones did not see the shooter. He testified that the bedroom window was open.
Kelly Kimm, Ms. Harris' mother and Mr. Jones' wife, testified that, she heard "a loud popping noise, and it kept popping." She sustained four gun shot wounds. Ms. Kimm did not see the shooter.
Shannon Noble testified that on April 18, 2009, she, appellant, appellant's brother, Elwood Lewis (known as "Woody"), and Moses Santiago went together to a club called "Tolteca." They drove to the club in Mr. Santiago's burgundy colored van, with Mr. Santiago driving.
While at the club, appellant and his brother "got into an argument with some girl." After the "bouncer" told appellant and Mr. Lewis to leave, Ms. Noble, appellant, and Mr. Lewis went "out front" and then a "fight broke out." The police arrived, and appellant and Mr. Lewis were arrested.
Ms. Noble and Mr. Santiago then drove away in his van and eventually parked near the house where Ms. Noble believed Mr. Santiago lived. Jose Reyes, another friend, then arrived, and he and Mr. Santiago talked about what happened at the club. While Ms. Noble waited in the van for Mr. Santiago to take her home, Mr. Santiago and Mr. Reyes went into the house. Mr. Santiago and Mr. Reyes subsequently rejoined her in the van, and they proceeded to pick up appellant and his brother, who had been released from police custody.
After appellant and his brother entered the van, they talked was about the incident in the club and "what they were going to do." Mr. Santiago drove to Mr. Reyes' house, where appellant lived with his girlfriend, Carla Reyes, Jose's sister. Ms. Noble testified that Mr. Reyes and Mr. Lewis left the van, went into the house, and returned carrying "two shirts" in their hands.
Mr. Reyes testified that appellant wanted "to beat up" Ms. Harris and planned to go to her house. He testified that appellant and Mr. Lewis "went upstairs [in the Reyes' house] and grabbed some guns."
Ms. Noble and Mr. Reyes both testified that they, Mr. Santiago, appellant, and Mr. Lewis left in Mr. Santiago's van. Mr. Reyes observed that appellant and Mr. Lewis each had a gun in hand. He described the gun appellant held as an "automatic." Mr. Reyes testified that appellant said they were going to Ms. Harris' house to shoot her.
Both Ms. Noble and Mr. Reyes testified that, when the van stopped, appellant and Mr. Lewis got out, and a few minutes later, they heard gunshots. Shortly thereafter, appellant and Mr. Lewis returned to the van, each carrying a gun. Ms. Noble testified that, when appellant returned to the van, he "said he gunned her down."
After appellant and Mr. Lewis returned to the van, and as they drove down the street, a gun went off behind Ms. Noble, hitting her in the arm and grazing her leg and also hitting Mr. Santiago in the arm. Mr. Santiago let appellant and Mr. Lewis out of the van and then drove to Johns Hopkins hospital. When appellant exited the van, "he said not to say what happened." Mr. Reyes testified that appellant and Mr. Lewis took the guns with them when they left.
Neither Ms. Noble nor Mr. Reyes initially told the police the truth about what happened. They both claimed, however, that they eventually did tell the police the truth and that their in-court testimony was truthful.
After the incident, Ms. Noble was detained for a period of time at the Baltimore County Detention Center. While awaiting a bail review hearing, someone "dropped a note" onto her lap, which subsequently was retrieved by a correctional officer. The hand-written note was admitted into evidence. Ms. Noble recognized the handwriting on the note as that of ...
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