United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
response to the above-entitled Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus, Respondents initially filed a Limited Response
asserting that the Petition included unexhausted claims and
if Petitioner did not waive those claims, it was subject to
dismissal in its entirety. (ECF No. 6). Petitioner filed a
Reply pursuant to this Court's Order, waiving the claims
that were unexhausted. (ECF No. 9). Respondents filed a
supplemental Response to the Petition (ECF No. 15),
Petitioner filed a Reply (ECF No. 16). Upon review of the
pleadings filed, the Court deems an evidentiary hearing
unnecessary. 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 below, the Petition shall be denied and
a Certificate of Appealability shall not issue.
Facts Established at Trial
Conley Bell was convicted of attempted carjacking, second
degree assault, and reckless endangerment following a jury
trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
(ECF No 6-2 at 2). He was sentenced to serve 30 years, all
but 20 years suspended, with five years of probation
following his release from prison. (Id. at 2 n.1).
trial, the following facts were established. On February 12,
2011, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Joseph Uber drove his
four-door Hyundai SUV to a Subway restaurant located on
Southern Maryland Boulevard in Lothian, Maryland to pick up
dinner for his family. (Id. at 2). On his way into
the restaurant, Uber noticed a man and a woman, later
identified as Bell and his girlfriend Charity Lowe, sitting
on the curb not far from where his car was parked.
(Id.). When Uber left the restaurant, he unlocked
his car using the remote door unlock feature on his keychain.
(Id.). As Uber opened the driver's side door,
Bell approached him and began a conversation with Uber.
Bell began talking to Uber, he recognized him as a former
neighbor. (Id.). Uber testified that Bell
“lived across the street from him in the same trailer
park for a few years until a [few] months before the
encounter” at the Subway parking lot. (Id.);
(see ECF 15-1 at 54). Uber further testified that
during the period Bell was his neighbor, he had
“interacted with him at least twenty times.” (ECF
No 6-2 at 2). Uber stated that he had allowed Bell to use his
house and cell phone, had taken both Bell and his girlfriend
to the store on several occasions, and had loaned Bell his
car twice. (Id.). Uber explained that during their
conversations, Bell had told him about “some of the
difficulties he was having.” (Id. at 3). Uber
also testified that he recognized Bell's girlfriend with
whom he had interacted approximately ten times.
testified that as he was talking to Bell in the Subway
parking lot, Bell moved closer to him and eventually backed
him up against the passenger side door of Uber's car.
(Id.). At that point, Bell put his arm around
Uber's shoulder and while bunching up Uber's jacket
collar, grabbed the lower part of his jacket with his left
hand. (Id.). Bell told Uber, “we're
homeless” and asked Uber if he was going to take them
where they wanted to go. (Id.). When Uber refused,
Bell pulled out a knife with a three-inch blade and pressed
it to Uber's throat. (Id.). Bell then said,
“You're going to fucking take us wherever we want
to go.” (Id.). Uber feigned cooperation due to
his limited ability to defend himself and told Bell he would
drive him wherever he needed to go. (Id.).
moved to sit in the driver's seat of his car, Bell yelled
to his girlfriend to get in the car and she complied.
(Id.). Bell then told Uber that he was going to
drive. (Id.). Uber then crawled over the middle
console, between the driver's seat and the front
passenger's seat, and when he reached the passenger side,
opened the door, exited the car, and slammed the door behind
him. (Id.). Uber still had possession of the key and
once out of the car, pushed the door lock and alarm button on
the key, causing the alarm on the car to activate.
(Id.). Uber then ran toward the road and a passerby
stopped and called the police. (Id.).
police officers responded to the call and described Uber as
very upset. (Id. at 4). Uber told the officers that
he had been assaulted by a former neighbor and gave them both
Bell's name and a description of Bell. (Id.).
Police located Bell and his girlfriend less than one-half
hour later, walking down a rural road less than two miles
from the Subway. (Id.). When Bell was arrested, the
officer noticed that he appeared to be drunk because his eyes
were “red and glassy, ” he had a strong odor of
alcohol on his breath and on his body, and his speech was
slurred. (Id.). No weapon was found on Bell when he
was arrested. (Id.).
State Appellate and Post-Conviction Review
direct appeal, Bell argued that the evidence presented at
trial was insufficient to support the guilty verdict. The
Court of Special Appeals summarized Bells claim as follows:
Specifically, he argues that he did not intend to harm Uber
or steal his car. In support of his argument, [Bell] points
to the fact that he and Uber had gotten along well in the
past, that given the disparity in physical abilities [Bell]
could have harmed Uber and taken his car but no injuries were
observed, that he never “targeted” Uber's
keys, that his inebriation contributed to the
“misunderstanding, ” and that he and his
girlfriend did not flee or hide but were found “merely
walk[ing] up the road.”
(Id.). The court noted that defense counsel made a
motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the
State's case. Defense counsel argued that the State
failed to meet their burden to establish that Bell (1) used a
dangerous and deadly weapon, (2) placed Uber in fear in an
effort to obtain unauthorized possession or control of
Uber's car, (3) committed an assault on Uber, (4) used a
weapon that qualifies as a dangerous weapon, or (5)
brandished the weapon in such a way it would lead anyone to
believe there was an intent to cause injury. (Id. at
Court of Special Appeals found that the argument raised by
Bell was not preserved for review and even if it had been, it
was without merit. (Id. at 5-6). The court noted
that carjacking is a general intent crime, and under
Maryland law, it “can be committed in three different
ways: a consummated battery, an attempted battery, or placing
the victim in reasonable fear of an imminent battery.”
(Id. at 7). The court then noted that:
The three crimes of which [Bell] was convicted were general
intent crimes, and common to all three is their general
intent - to place Uber in fear. Attempted carjacking also
requires the additional general intent to attempt to ...