United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSEPH W. EDWARDS, #346-493, Petitioner
WARDEN FRANK BISHOP and The ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE OF MARYLAND, Respondents
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
W. Edwards filed this timely, self-represented Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
attacking his June 30, 2007 conviction from the Circuit Court
for Charles County, Maryland for first-degree felony murder
and related offenses. (ECF 1). Respondents, the Warden of
North Branch Correctional Institution where Edwards is
confined and the Attorney General of the State of Maryland,
filed an Answer. (ECF 16). Edwards, through counsel,
submitted an Amended Petition (ECF 25), prompting an
additional Response (ECF 29) and Reply. (ECF 32).
reviewed the parties' submissions, 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 set forth herein, the
Court shall DENY and DISMISS the Petition with prejudice and
SHALL NOT ISSUE a Certificate of Appealability.
February 2, 2007, Edwards was charged in the Circuit Court
for Charles County with first-degree felony murder,
first-degree premeditated murder, robbery with a dangerous
weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy
to commit first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit robbery
with a dangerous weapon, first-degree assault, and use of a
handgun in the commission of a crime of violence in
connection with the death of Steven McGregor. Edwards also
was charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder,
attempted second-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous
weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy
to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to
commit first-degree assault, first-degree assault, and use of
a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence in
connection with the shooting of Steven Windley. (ECF 16, Ex.
1 at pp. 3-10). The facts adduced at Edwards' jury trial,
summarized by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland,
On December 28, 2006 around 11:30 p.m., Steven McGregor,
Steven Windley, and three other men were in and around a car
in the 3200 block of Westdale Court in Waldorf. They were
approached by [appellant], and four other men. As a result of
the ensuing events, Mr. McGregor was shot and killed, and Mr.
Windley was shot and paralyzed. The surviving victims, as
well as three of [appellant's] accomplices, testified at
Marco Coates, who was in the car with Mr. McGregor and Mr.
Windley, offered the following account of the events leading
up to the shooting. On December 28, he, Robert Barbour, and
Mr. Windley drove to a basketball tournament in Calvert
County in Mr. Barbour's blue Dodge Magnum. After the
tournament, Mr. McGregor joined them, and they drove back to
Waldorf. In Waldorf, they saw Timothy Grimes in the Westdale
Court area and picked him up. Eventually, Mr. Barbour, who
was driving, parked in the 3200 block of Westdale Court, and
Mr. Coates and Mr. Grimes got out of the car to smoke.
Mr. Coates explained that either Mr. Barbour or Mr. McGregor
got a phone call. About thirty seconds later, five men came
from behind the town homes around the court. Mr. Coates saw a
“big, big” chrome gun and heard shots. He and Mr.
Grimes then “took off.” Initially, Mr. Coates hid
behind a bush. He soon crept back towards the car, however,
and got underneath an Expedition. From his position
underneath the SUV, Mr. Coates saw the men kicking Mr.
Barbour in the face and saw the men trying to take Mr.
In addition to shots from the chrome gun, Mr. Coates
testified that he heard shots from another gun. Some shots
were fired at the tires, and some shots were fired directly
into the car. As the five men were leaving, one man came back
and fired a final shot into the car from behind the passenger
seat. The five men then returned from the direction they
After the men left, Mr. Coates returned to the car. Mr.
McGregor had a bullet in his head. Mr. Windley was face down
on the ground and could not get up.
Mr. Coates stated that he had known [appellant] for three
years. Despite the fact that the man with the chrome gun wore
a mask that covered his face from the nose down, Mr. Coates
claimed that [appellant] was that man. Mr. Coates also
identified [appellant] as the person who fired the final shot
into the car. According to Mr. Coates, [appellant] was
wearing a black, gray and red North Face jacket. He had light
skin and wore his hair in long “twisties.” Robert
Barbour, who was the driver of the car, also testified. His
account follows. After Mr. Barbour and the car's other
occupants picked up Timothy Grimes, they went to Janelle
Love's court. She was outside, and they asked her for
cigarettes. While they were there, Mr. Barbour received a
call from Angel Park. Ms. Park asked him if he had any
“weed.” When he said no, she asked who was with
him, and he told her. She then asked where they were, and he
told her that too. Ms. Park said she would call him back. At
some point, Mr. Barbour and his companions left Ms.
Love's court and went to Mr. Windley's court.
About two minutes after the first call, Ms. Park called Mr.
Barbour again. She asked where they were, and Mr. Barbour
told her they were at Mr. Windley's court. Ms. Park told
him that she would come through in about five minutes.
About one to two minutes after the second call Mr. Barbour
heard a “loud boom” Mr. Barbour ducked his head
and tried to start the car. As he did so, he and Mr. Windley
were pulled out of the car. Mr. Barbour said that the men
asked, “Where the money at?” One man went through
his pockets, while another man stood over him. Afterwards,
Mr. Barbour discovered that $15 dollars and his Sprint Razor
phone were taken. Mr. Barbour testified that someone tried to
take Mr. Windley's jacket, but stopped when he realized
Mr. Windley had been shot. After a man wearing a red and
black North Face jacket pointed a chrome gun inside the car
and shot, the men ran off.
Timothy Grimes offered his account of the shooting as well.
Mr. Grimes testified that he and Mr. Coates were smoking
“weed” outside Mr. Barbour's car when five
men walked up. Mr. Grimes saw a “big old chrome
gun.” When the person holding that gun fired, he and
Mr. Coates ran. While he was running, Mr. Grimes slipped and
fell. As he lay on the ground, he heard multiple gun shots,
none of which were as loud as the first one. Once Mr. Grimes
caught his breath, he got up and ran to the end of a section
of town houses. As he started to get up again, he heard one
final shot, which sounded liked [sic] the first shot he
Mr. Grimes did not identify [appellant] as one of the men who
approached the car. He did testify, however, that he had seen
[appellant] around one or two o'clock on December 28. Mr.
Grimes explained that he was driving when he saw [appellant]
in a car with Angel Park. Mr. Grimes testified that when he
pulled next to [appellant's] car, [appellant] pulled out
a “big old chrome gun” and pointed it at him.
Once [appellant] realized who Mr. Grimes was, he put the gun
down. According to Mr. Grimes, the gun that he saw that
afternoon looked like the gun he saw later that night.
Mr. Windley, who was paralyzed as a result of the shooting,
also testified. After Mr. Barbour parked in front of Mr.
Windley's house, Mr. Windley passed out. He woke up to
gun shots and to Mr. McGregor yelling at Mr. Barbour to pull
off. Mr. Windley explained that the passenger side window was
shot out, and a silver gun came in the window. Mr. McGregor
got shot, and Mr. Windley tried to open the door. When the
gun pointed in Mr. Windley's direction, he put up his
right arm and was shot in that arm. Mr. Windley was able to
unlock the door. As he leaned out, he was shot in the back
and fell out of the car.
Mr. Windley testified that he was able to pull himself under
the truck parked next to them. Once he was under the truck,
someone pulled him out and tried to take his jacket and
chain. Mr. Windley held on with his good arm. Mr. Windley
testified that he could see a group of guys kicking and
beating Mr. Barbour. He told the men to leave Mr. Barbour
alone and to come take his jacket. The men came over and
again tried to take his jacket. Mr. Windley testified that
the men then started running. As they did, one man came back,
jumped over him, and shot one more time. Mr. Windley
testified that he had two cell phones when he was shot. After
the shooting, one phone was missing.
In addition to the victims, three of [appellant's]
accomplices, including Angel Park, testified. On December 28,
Ms. Park picked up [appellant], who was “just about
like” her boyfriend, from his parents' house in
Waldorf. [Appellant] had “dreads” and was wearing
a red and black North Face jacket. While they were driving,
they saw Timothy Grimes, who pulled up beside them.
[Appellant] pulled out a gun before he realized who it was.
When he saw that it was Mr. Grimes, he put the gun away.
After the encounter with Mr. Grimes, Ms. Park and [appellant]
drove to Washington, D.C. to pick up Gator, whose real name
is Dewayne Thomas. They then drove to Kennebec Street to pick
up Eugene Green and Darryl Smith.
Next, they drove to Alexis Jordan's house, where
[appellant] and Mr. Smith got into Mr. Jordan's car. At
that point, both cars drove to Clay Terrace, where Mr. Smith
got some PCP. Mr. Smith gave one “dipper” to her
and Mr. Green, and he kept one “dipper” for the
other car. The group then proceeded to a restaurant. While
there, Mr. Thomas got into her car.
Both cars then drove to Waldorf, where [appellant] directed
her to drive through three or four neighborhoods. At some
point, Ms. Park got a call from Tiera Gray who was looking
for her boyfriend, Mr. McGregor. Ms. Gray asked for
J-Rock's number. After that call, Ms. Park drove to the
Thai Seafood bar, where she received a call from [appellant].
Ms. Park, in turn, called Mr. Barbour, whose nickname was
Pearl, and asked for J-Rock's number. She also asked
about some “weed” and found out where Mr. Barbour
was and who he was with. Ms. Park then called [appellant] and
told him what she had learned. Next, Ms. Park called Mr.
Barbour back and told him that she was on her way.
At that point, the cars drove to a neighborhood she knew as
Coventry so that [appellant], Mr. Green, Mr. Thomas, Mr.
Smith and Mr. Jordan could rob Mr. Barbour. After she parked,
everyone except herself and the female who was driving Mr.
Jordan's car got out. The men went towards the playground
and were gone for less than ten minutes. Ms. Park heard
several gunshots. Not long after that, everyone ran back to
her car. They left the area and went back to Kennebec Street.
While they were at Kennebec Street, Ms. Park received a call
from Janell Love asking who she was with and what she was
doing. Ms. Park told Ms. Love that she was at her aunt's
house. [Appellant] then told Ms. Park that she needed to go
to where she told Ms. Love she was.
Janae West, who drove Alexis Jordan's car, also
testified. According to Ms. West, Mr. Jordan came to her
house on December 28 and asked her to drive his car. She
complied and drove Mr. Jordan, [appellant] and another
“boy” to Waldorf. When they arrived at a town
house community, she and the woman who drove the other car
parked. Ms. West testified that all of the males got out of
the cars and went around the corner behind some houses. They
were gone for approximately ten minutes, during which time
she heard gun shots. About two minutes after hearing the
shots, the men came back. [Appellant], Mr. Jordan and the
other man got into Mr. Jordan's car, and they left.
Eugene Green testified as well. According to Mr. Green,
[appellant] called him on December 28 and asked him to come
“chill” at the apartment on Kennebec Street. When
he arrived, Ms. Park and Mr. Thomas were also there.
[Appellant] asked if he wanted to, go to Waldorf, and he
[said] “yes.” According to Mr. Green, [appellant]
said that they were going to Waldorf to “chill, ”
but he also said that if he saw Pudge and “someone
else” he was going to rob them. Mr. Green and Mr.
Thomas drove to Waldorf in Angel Park's car, and
[appellant], Darryl Smith and Mr. Jordan went in a car with
When they got to Waldorf, the two cars parked at the Thai
Seafood “go-go.” While they were there, Ms. Park
got a phone call. [Appellant] asked Ms. Park who she was
talking to and told her to take him “to whoever she was
talking to.” The cars then drove to a location he knew
as “AV.” The women stayed in the car, and the men
walked towards a playground. They followed a path and ended
up in a parking lot. Mr. Green saw Mr. Coates using the
bathroom. [Appellant], who was wearing a red and black North
Face jacket, a mask and a hoodie, fired a silver gun in the
air. According to Mr. Green, [appellant] pointed the gun at
Mr. Coates. At that point, Mr. Green left and went back to
the car. About five minutes later, the other men came back.
Everyone got in the cars, and they left. As they were leaving
the area, they saw a police car.
Darryl Smith, who was the last accomplice to testify,
testified as follows. Mr. Green and [appellant] came to his
home on Kennebec Street on December 28. [Appellant's]
girlfriend picked them up, and they drove to D.C., where Mr.
Thomas joined them. [Appellant] talked to Mr. Thomas about
going to Waldorf to beat up someone named Dejuan. They all
then drove to Alexia Jordan's house. After making other
stops, the two cars drove to Waldorf.
At first, they went to a gas station. Then, they drove
through some town homes looking for Dejuan and Pudge. Next,
they went to a store, where Mr. Smith and Mr. Jordan bought
ski masks, one of which they gave to [appellant]. After
getting the masks, they drove through some more town homes.
[Appellant] said he saw who he was looking for, so they drove
to the back of the town homes, parked and got out.
The men then walked through some woods and past a playground.
When they heard some guys laughing in the parking lot,
[appellant] pulled down his mask, and they all ran towards
the Dodge Magnum. According to Mr. Smith, [appellant]] and
Mr. Jordan were the only people who had guns. [Appellant]
fired once into the air with a silver revolver. He then ran
to the right rear passenger door, opened it, and said,
“Whoa.” Mr. Jordan fired multiple shots in the
back of the car. [Appellant] then pistol whipped someone in
the car. Everyone ran back the way they came.
Mr. Smith testified that when he, Mr. Thomas and [appellant]
got into Angel's car [appellant] had two cell phones and
some money in his hand. Eventually, both cars went back to
Kennebec Street. There, [appellant] told [Ms. Jordan] to get
rid of the guns. Mr. Smith stated that at some point
[appellant] had told him the gun was a .357.
When Mr. Windley testified, he stated that he saw Mr.
McGregor with a cell phone prior to the shooting. Similarly,
Mr. Barbour testified that he saw Mr. McGregor talking on his
cell phone before the shooting. When the police searched Mr.
McGregor's pockets after the shooting, however, they did
not recover a cell phone.
Mr. Smith testified that when the men returned to Kennebec
Street after the shooting, he took the cell phones from
[appellant], broke them and threw them in some bushes.
Detective Chris Shankster responded to 904 Kennebec after the
shooting. There, he recovered a cellular telephone battery
from the ground. The battery was compatible with only an LG
CU500 cell phone. Detective Shankster also met with Mr.
McGregor's girlfriend, Ms. Gray, after the shooting. She
gave him a box for an LG CU500 Cingular telephone and told
the detective that it was the box Mr. McGregor's cell
phone had come in.
(ECF 16, Ex. 9). Based on this evidence, the jury convicted
Edwards of first-degree felony murder, first-degree assault,
and illegal use of a handgun with respect to victim Steven
McGregor, and first-degree assault and illegal use of a
handgun with respect to victim Steven Windley. (Id.;
see also Ex. 1). Edwards was sentenced to life
imprisonment for the first-degree felony murder of McGregor,
a consecutive 20-year sentence for the first-degree assault
of Windley, and two 20-year sentences for the handgun
convictions, one of which was to run concurrent to the life
sentence and the other to run concurrent to the first-degree
assault sentence. (Id., Ex. 1 at pp. 3-10, Ex. 9 at
direct appeal, Edwards raised the following questions:
(1) Was the jury's verdict of guilty of felony murder
inconsistent with its verdict of not guilty of robbery with a
danger weapon, and must the felony murder conviction be
reversed as a result?
(2) Did the trial court commit plain error in instructing the
jury on felony murder?
(3) Did the trial court err when it sent a note to the jury
without first informing Edwards and his counsel and when it
thereafter did not disclose the jury's response to
Edwards and his counsel?
(4) Did the trial court err in failing to disclose to defense
counsel the fact that a juror may have seen Edwards being
(5) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying
Edwards' motion for a continuance?
(ECF 16, Exs. 7-9). In its March 11, 2009 unreported opinion,
the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Edwards' judgment
of conviction. The appellate court found Edwards'
inconsistent verdict argument unpreserved. (Id., Ex
9 at p. 23). Although finding the jury instruction argument
also unpreserved, the appellate court noted it
“intertwined . . . with his first contention”
regarding the inconsistent verdicts, and addressed it,
declining to recognize plain error. (Id.).
Edwards' request for certiorari review by the
Maryland Court of Appeals was denied on June 12,
2009. (Id., Ex. 10).
27, 2010, Edwards filed a petition for post-conviction relief
in the Circuit Court for Charles County. (ECF 16, Ex. 1 at p.
20). The petition, as amended, claimed trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to (1) preserve the record for
appeal, (2) object properly to inconsistent verdicts, (3)
object to the absence of instructions related to attempted
robbery and attempted armed robbery, (4) cross-examine Marco
Coates effectively, and (5) obtain a jury instruction on
second-degree felony murder. (Id., Ex. 11, 12).
Following an October 13, 2011 hearing, the post-conviction
court denied relief as to all grounds raised in an opinion
and order filed on July 3, 2014. (Id., Ex. 1, 13).
filed an application for leave to appeal the post-conviction
court's decision with the Court of Special Appeals,
reiterating his claims that trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to (1) object properly to inconsistent verdicts on
felony murder and armed robbery, (2) object to the absence of
instructions related to attempted robbery and attempted armed
robbery, and (3) obtain a jury instruction on second-degree
felony murder. Edwards also argued relief should be granted
based on the cumulative effect of those errors. (ECF 16, Ex.
14). On June 8, 2015, the Court of Special Appeals summarily
denied Edwards' application for leave to
appeal. (Id., Ex. 1 at p. 24).
now asserts that trial counsel was ineffective for (1)
failing to object properly and timely to an inconsistent
verdict, (2) failing to object to the absence of instructions
related to attempted robbery and attempted armed robbery, (3)
failing to object to the absence of a jury instruction on
second-degree felony murder, and (4) the cumulative effect of
these errors. (ECF 25). ...