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Petitioner v. Bishop

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 17, 2015

FERNANDO GRADY HORTON #361-630 Petitioner
v.
FRANK B. BISHOP, JR., et al. Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

The Respondents move to dismiss Fernando Grady Horton's ("Horton") Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. (ECF No. 7). After reviewing the Petition and the Respondents' Answer, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. 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 set forth herein, the Court shall dismiss the Petition with prejudice.

Procedural History

On January 15, 2010, a jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City found Horton guilty of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, use of a handgun, possession of a handgun, reckless discharge of a handgun on a public street, and possession of a regulated firearm. ECF No. 7, Ex. 1, p 1.

At trial, "Asa Thomas testified that on the evening of February 27, 2009, he was visiting friends in his former neighborhood in Baltimore City." ECF No. 7, Ex. 8, pp. 2-8 (summary of case facts during direct appeal). "While driving down Division Street, Thomas noticed the vehicle of a childhood acquaintance, Kathy Randall...." Id. Randall asked Thomas to drive her to the liquor store. Id. When Thomas's car reached the end of the street, he "glanced to his left [and] [] noticed someone crossing the street." Id. "He continued the conversation with Randall and then looked again. At that time he saw the barrel of a gun pointed at his window. A shot was fired, the window shattered, and Thomas was struck in the mouth." Id. Thomas "heard Randall exit the car and exclaim, [W]hy did you do that?' The shooter responded, [F]uck that nigger.'" Id. "When interviewed by a detective at the hospital on March 3, 2009, Mr. Thomas could not provide a description of the shooter. However, several months later on June 2, 2009, he described the shooter as a black male, medium build, having a mustache and wearing a hoody." Id.

Randall also testified. Id. She states that after hearing the gunshot, she "jumped out of the car." Id. "She then saw a male running down the street, " but "was too intoxicated to ascertain the identity of the person." Id. Randall "fled to her home." That evening, Randall "spoke on the phone with [Horton], whom she had been dating for about a week and had seen earlier that evening." Id. Later, Randall "told her mother, in front of appellant, that she thought he shot [] Thomas, but admitted that she was not sure because she was intoxicated at the time." Id. Horton "appeared more nervous and jittery that night than usual." Id. Randall spoke with the police about the incident after her friend was pulled over in her vehicle for a tinted window violation, and she was asked to report to the scene as the vehicle's owner. Id. At her third interview, "Randall advised Detective Gaskins that [Horton] was the shooter and selected his photograph from an array." Id.

At trial, [] Randall acknowledged that she was too intoxicated at the time of the shooting to clearly see the shooter. However, she stated that she subsequently came to the conclusion that [Horton] had been the assailant after putting "two and two together." She stated that the two factors were that [Horton] had been wearing the same light blue jeans worn by the shooter, and he had pulled out a gun earlier that week following an argument during which he had accused her of showing interest in another man.
[] Randall stated that following the shooting, [Horton] frequently called to tell her that he loved her and ask her not to go to court. He further told her that if she had to go to court, she should plead the "Fifth."

Id. Another witness testified that Horton "argued with [] Randall over what he described as games played by [] Randall with respect to her interest in other men. During the argument, appellant allegedly pulled out a gun and placed it on his lap." Id.

On September 9, 2009, the State indicated that it was ready to proceed to trial, but Horton's counsel requested a postponement because he was ill and "he [had] found an alibi witness whom he wanted to investigate." Id. "Speaking directly to the court, [Horton] asserted that he was unclear why the matter was being postponed and maintained that he was ready to go to trial. The court sent the matter to the administrative court." Id. On September 10, 2009, "[t]he administrative court approved the postponement, for the reasons asserted above, against appellant's desire to proceed to trial as scheduled." Id.

On March 1, 2010, Horton was sentenced to life imprisonment plus a consecutive twenty years of incarceration. Id. Horton, through counsel, raised the following claims in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland:

1. Did the administrative judge err when it failed to follow the dictates of Maryland Rule 4-215 after Horton stated that he wanted to proceed without a lawyer?
2. Did the administrative judge err in finding good cause to postpone the case beyond the 180 ...

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