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Bassford v. Johnson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 19, 2016

RICHARD L. BASSFORD, Petitioner
v.
BETTY JOHNSON, et al., Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 27, 2014, Petitioner Richard L. Bassford filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application attacking his conviction and sentence for theft over $1, 000 entered in the Circuit Court for St. Mary's County.[1] ECF 1.[2] Respondents filed an Answer. ECF 7. Petitioner has replied. ECF 8. 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. 2016); 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)). For the reasons to follow, the Petition will be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         Background

         State Court Proceedings

         Petitioner Richard L. Bassford was charged in the Circuit Court for St. Mary's County with theft between $, 1000 and $10, 000 and related offenses. ECF 7-1, pp. 1-5. On July 8, 2011, he pled guilty to one count of theft between $1, 000 and $10, 000. ECF 7-2. The remaining offenses were nolle prossed. ECF 7-1; 7-2. The parties and the court agreed to a sentence of eight years. ECF 7-2, pp. 3, 6.

         A plea colloquy was conducted by the court. Id., pp. 4-9. Bassford stated he entered the plea to one count of theft between $1, 000 and $10, 000 and that he faced an eight year term of incarceration. Id., pp. 5-6. He acknowledged that he had discussed the elements of the offense with his defense counsel. Id, p. 9. He acknowledged the voluntariness of the plea and confirmed that he knowingly waived his rights to: a jury trial, confront witnesses, remain silent, and present a defense. Id., pp. 4-9. Bassford confirmed his satisfaction with his counsel's performance. He affirmed that he entered the plea voluntarily because it was in his best interest and that he understood the terms of the agreement and that those terms were acceptable to him. Id., pp. 8-9.

         In support of the plea, the State recited the following facts into the record:

Your Honor, on Saturday, November 27, 2010, Trooper Weisemann of the Maryland State Police responded to the parking lot of Big Lots here in Lexington Park, St. Mary's County, Maryland.
When he arrived on the scene, he made contact with witness Lawrence Carter, who stated that he was in the parking lot when he observed two males enter the back of a white van in the parking lot and remove a paint sprayer from the back of that vehicle. They then took the paint sprayer and moved it behind the wall at the end of the parking lot, and they left his sight.
Mr. Carter was concerned with the activity that he was seeing, and so he contacted the sheriff's office. He would be able to identify the men who took the paint sprayer as the defendant here today, Mr. Bassford, and his codefendant, Mr. Nelson.
Contact was made with one of the owners of the vehicle, Miss Courtney Raley. She advised that the paint sprayer was in the back of her van; that obviously the paint sprayer was not there anymore; she had not given anyone permission to take it; and that the paint sprayer's value was approximately $2, 000.
Mr. Nelson made a statement to law enforcement authorities indicating that he and Mr. Bassford took the paint sprayer and removed it because Mr. Bassford was owed money by the Raleys for some work they had done. Mr. Bassford gave a statement to the police that later turned out to be fictitious.
All events occurred in St. Mary's County.
THE COURT: And the value of that paint ...

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