United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.
On April 10, 2008, Petitioner Cyros Beads ("Petitioner" or "Beads") pled guilty in this Court to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On June 4, 2008, Petitioner was sentenced by this Court to a term of imprisonment of one-hundred and twenty (120) months. During sentencing, this Court determined Petitioner's criminal history, which included three points for a state court conviction of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and related offenses in the Baltimore City Circuit Court Case No. XXXXXXXXX, State v. Beads. Three years later, the Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed and remanded that case. On retrial of that case, Petitioner was not convicted of second-degree murder or first-degree assault, but was convicted of (1) use of a handgun in commission of a crime and (2) wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun on or about the person. Petitioner was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for those offenses. A sentence exceeding one year and one month carries three criminal history points; therefore Petitioner is assigned the same amount of criminal history points (three) for his new conviction. On September 29, 2014, Petitioner filed the currently pending Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (ECF No. 46) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting that he is entitled to relief because his current sentence in this case is erroneous as a result of his retrial on the state charges.
The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, Petitioner Cyros Beads' Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is DENIED.
On April 10, 2008, Petitioner Cyros Beads ("Petitioner" or "Beads") appeared before this Court and pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On June 4, 2008, Petitioner was sentenced to the statutory maximum one-hundred twenty (120) months to be served concurrent with a state sentence of life imprisonment that Petitioner was currently serving for attempted second-degree murder and related charges in the Baltimore City Circuit Court Case No. XXXXXXXXX. In establishing Petitioner's Criminal History, the Court assessed: (1) one point for a juvenile conviction on 7/9/02; (2) three points for CDS convictions on 8/12/13; (3) three points for CDS convictions on 9/10/13; (4) three points for convictions of attempted second-degree murder,  first-degree assault, and two handgun charges in Case No. XXXXXXXXX; and (5) two points because the instant offense was committed less than two years following the Petitioner's release from custody for a prior offense. Presentence Report at 4-6. With twelve criminal history points, the Petitioner was placed in Criminal History Category V (5) with a final offense level of 25; the Court calculated as an advisory sentencing guideline a range of 100 to 120 months considering the statutory maximum was 120 months. Sentencing Hr'g Tr.
The Baltimore City Circuit Court Case No. XXXXXXXXX, from which Petitioner was assigned three criminal points, arose from an incident on June 7, 2005 that left one man dead and another two injured. Beads v. State of Maryland, 28 A.3d 1217 (Md. 2011). In the Circuit Court for Baltimore City a jury found Beads and a codefendant guilty of several crimes against three victims, as well as several related offenses, including use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. Id. at 1219. Specifically, the jury convicted Beads of attempted second-degree murders and first-degree assaults of two of the victims, conspiracy to murder those two victims, two counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, and three counts of carrying a handgun. Id. at 1222. Beads and his codefendant noted an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on the grounds that the prosecutor made prejudicial remarks during closing argument and other errors that the trial court did not correct. Id. at 1219. The Court of Special Appeals consolidated the appeals and affirmed the judgments of conviction in an unreported opinion. Id. Beads and Smith then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Id. The court granted the petition and on September 21, 2011, remanded Case No. XXXXXXXXX for a new trial after holding that:
(1) [T]he trial court erroneously overruled Petitioner Beads' objections to improper prosecutorial arguments, (2) the trial court erroneously concluded that the cross-examination of Petitioner Smith's trial counsel "opened" the door to testimony that Smith had been incarcerated, and (3) because the trial court failed to take any corrective action in response to the improper arguments and inadmissible evidence, [the court] [i]s not persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that these erroneous rulings were harmless.
Id. at 1220. On February 28, 2014, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City retried Case No. XXXXXXXXX; while Petitioner was not convicted of the charges of attempted second-degree murder and assault,  a jury found him guilty of use of a handgun in commission of a crime and wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun on or about the person. Petitioner was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
This Court assigned Petitioner three criminal history points for his original Case No. XXXXXXXXX conviction because the state court sentence exceeded one year and one month. See U.S.S.G Section 4A1.1(a). On retrial, Petitioner was convicted of use of a handgun in commission of a crime and wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun on or about the person. For Petitioner's new conviction, he received a three-year sentence. Because his new sentence also exceeds one year and one month, Petitioner is assigned three criminal history points for his current Case No. XXXXXXXXX conviction. Therefore, Petitioner has the same number of criminal history points for his Case No. XXXXXXXXX convictions today as he did at sentencing, and the same advisory sentencing guideline range of 100 to 120 months.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
This Court recognizes that Petitioner is pro se and has accorded his pleadings liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody may seek to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence where (1) "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, " (2) the court lacked "jurisdiction to impose the sentence, ... [(3)] the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or [(4) the sentence] is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). "[A]n error of law does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error constituted a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'" United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979) (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962)). Once a petitioner has shown that his sentence is unlawful on one of the specified grounds, "the court shall vacate and the set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
A district court's resolution of a prisoner's§ 2255 petition for habeas relief therefore proceeds in two steps. United States v. Pettiford, 612 F.3d 270, 277 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v. Hadden, 475 F.3d 652, 661 (4th Cir. 2007)). First, the court must determine whether the prisoner has shown that his sentence is unlawful under § 2255. Id. If found unlawful, second, the court should grant the prisoner an "appropriate" remedy. Id. In Custis v. United States, 511 U.S. 485, 497 (1994), the Court noted that if a defendant "is successful in attacking [his] state sentences, he may then apply for reopening of any federal sentence enhanced by the state sentences." Vacatur alone, however, does not entitle a petitioner to habeas relief; the court must determine whether the vacatur renders petitioner's sentence unlawful on one of the grounds specified in § 2255 before setting aside the sentence. Pettiford, 612 F.3d at 278.
Petitioner Cyros Beads ("Petitioner" or "Beads") contends that he is entitled to relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 because his current sentence in this case is erroneous as a result of his retrial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Petitioner argues that he has a viable claim under both the first and fourth prongs of 28 U.S.C. § 2255. This Court first addresses whether Petitioner's claim is timely and then whether Petitioner's sentence was imposed in violation of "the Constitution or laws of the United States" or is "otherwise subject to collateral attack." This ...