Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wells v. Wolfe

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 30, 2017

JAMES HAMILTON WELLS # 146-304 Petitioner
v.
WARDEN JOHN S. WOLFE, Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge.

         Pending is James Hamilton Wells's ("Wells") petition for writ of habeas corpus[1] filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254. Respondents, by their counsel, have filed a response (Resp,, ECF No.)) to which Wells has replied (Pet'r's Reply, ECF No. 7). After consideration of the pleading, exhibits, and applicable law, the court finds a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); Rule 8, "Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States Courts, " 28 U.S.C. folio; see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (stating there is no entitlement to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. S 2254(e)(2)). The petition shall be denied and dismissed for the reasons that follow.

         BACKGROUND

         Wells, who is self-represented, is challenging his 2010 life sentence in the Circuit Court for Worcester County, Maryland, for felony murder (Pet., ECF No. 1 at 1-2). The facts of the case which led to his conviction are summarized as follows.

         On April 29, 1977, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Wells and his co-defendant, William Henry Jackson ("Jackson"), armed with handguns, entered a jewelry shop operated by Bernard Sugar ("Sugar") and Charlotte Farber ("Farber"). Jackson v. State, 408 A.2d 711, 713 (Md. 1979). They forced Sugar and Farber to the floor, and took jewelry valued at more than $10, 000 from a safe and display cabinets. Id. Shortly thereafter, Charlene Kelly ("Kelly") entered the store and asked for Farber. Id. After Wells told her that Farber was not there, but would return in half an hour, Kelly became suspicious and after leaving the store contacted the police. Id. Ten minutes later, Howard County police arrived and announced their presence.[2] Id. Wells started to leave by the front door but, after seeing the police, ran back inside the store. Id. He and Jackson then attempted to leave by the rear door, but were again deterred by the police and retreated into the store. Id.

         There being no other escape route, Wells grabbed Farber, held her in a headlock, and held his gun to her neck. (Id). Jackson did the same with Sugar. Id. at 713-14. Wells and Jackson, using Farber and Sugar as shields, left the store by the rear exit, ignoring the police order to stop and release the hostage.. Id. at 714. They stole a police car and attempted to drive away with the hostages. Id. After police gunfire disabled the vehicle, they stole another police car and fled, still holding the hostages at gunpoint. Id. They next forced a civilian to stop his car, entered it with the hostages, and sped away. Id. After evading one roadblock, they were finally stopped at another roadblock after police gunshots punctured the car's tires. Id.

         The police manning the roadblock, unaware of the presence of the hostage, fired at the car. Id. Officers from three counties as well as state police converged on the scene and placed the car under heavy gunfire. Id. One Howard County police officer, armed with a shotgun, jumped onto the hood of the car. Id. At that moment Wells had his arm out the rear window, waving a revolver. Id. The officer swung his shotgun over the top of the car in an attempt to strike Wells's arm and knock the revolver from his hand. Id. The shotgun discharged. Id. The pellets from the shotgun hit Sugar, who had been lying in the front seat of the car, in the back of the neck. Id. Sugar died as a result of the wound. Id. After a struggle, Wells and Jackson were removed from the vehicle and taken into custody. Id.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Although originally set for trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, the case was removed to Worcester County on March 3, 1978. Jackson, 408 A.2d at 713 n.1; (Pet., ECF No. 1 at 1). On June 12, 1978, Wells and Jackson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder under the indictment returned against them, and the State agreed to recommend a life sentence for each of them and to nol pros all other related charges. Jackson, 408 A.2d at 713; see also (Pet. Ex. 1, Mem. & Op. Granting Post Conv. Relief, ECF No. 1-2 at 1 n.1). Both were sentenced to life in prison. Jackson, 408 A.2d at 713; see also (Pet., ECF NO.1 at 1). The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed the judgments, as did the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Jackson, 408 A.2dat713, 79..

         On October 8, 1998, Wells filed a petition for post conviction Relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. (Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 5). He raised two grounds for relief: 1) that the on-the-record colloquy of the guilty plea was not taken in accordance with applicable law; and 2) that the State failed to disclose "Brady" [3] material that could have affected the sentence imposed, requiring a new sentencing hearing. (Pet. Ex. 1, Mem. & Op. Granting Post Conv. Relief, ECF No. 1-2 at 1). The circuit court resolved the first ground against Wells, finding that it could have been brought in a prior post conviction petition.[4] (Id. at 2). However, the circuit court found that "Brady" information was withheld by the State and granted post conviction relief.[5] Id.

         After hearing, Wells was resentenced on December 19, 2000, to life imprisonment. (Pet. Suppl., Mem. Op. Denying Post Conv. Relief, ECF No. 1-1 at 3). Wells did not file an application for leave to appeal this disposition. As a result, the circuit court's decision became final on January 18, 2001. See Md. Rule 8-204(b) (providing that application for leave to appeal be filed within 30 days after entry of judgment or order from which appeal is sought). On January 15, 2001, Wells filed a motion for review of sentence by a three-judge panel, which was denied on November 19, 2001. (Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 6). On March 12, 2001, Wells filed a motion for modification of sentence in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. (Id.. The motion for modification was held in abeyance on May 4, 2001. (Id.)., The motion was denied on April 10, 203.. (Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 3).

         On July 14, 2009, Wells filed a motion to re-open post conviction proceedings and/or in the alternative, petitioner's first petition for post conviction relief relating to sentencing, which was entered on the docket on July 22, 2009. (Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 2). Wells alleged that: 1) "the State withheld 'Brady' material and therefore he is entitled to a new trial or in the alternative to reopen his post conviction"" and 2) alternatively, "he is entitled to a new sentencing because at re-sentencing his counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." (Pet. Suppl. 1, Mem. Op. Denying Post Conv. Relief, ECF No. 1-1 at 3). The motion to reopen post conviction was denied in a memorandum opinion signed on October 22, 2010, and docketed on November 8, 2010. (Pet. Suppl. 1, Mem. Op., ECF No. 1-1 at 13; Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 3).

         Wells filed a motion to alter, amend, and/or revise judgment, which was denied on November 30, 2010. (Resp. Ex. 1, Crim. Docket, ECF No. 5-1 at 3). He next filed an application for leave to appeal the denial of his motion to reopen post conviction to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, raising the following ground: "the Circuit Court erred, as a matter of law, in denying the Petitioner's Post Conviction [sic] without according the Petitioner his right to hearing (and the assistance of counsel at the same) to prove his re-sentencing was defective due to the ineffective assistance of his counsel at the resentencing hearing." (Pet., ECF No. 1 at 2). On December 20, 2012, the application was dismissed as untimely filed. (Id. at 3; see also Pe'r's Reply Ex. 1, Order, ECF No. 7-1 at 3). Wells filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the Maryland Court of Appeals, which was denied on April 22, 2013. (Pet., ECF NO.1 at 3; Pet'r's Reply Ex. 3, Order, ECF No. 7-3 at 2).

         Wells filed the instant petition on March 26, 2014.[6] He subsequently filed a supplement to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.