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Holden v. Bishop

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 21, 2017



          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Petitioner Gregory Holden filed a 28 U.S.C. S 2254 habeas corpus Petition attacking his 2014 convictions for first degree murder and openly carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. ECF NO.1; Holden v. State, No. 1713, Sept. Term 2014, slip op. at 18 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Mar. 15, 2016) (unreported) ("Md. Ct. Spec. App. Op."), ECF No. 3-5 (starting at 17). Respondents filed an Answer, and Holden filed a Reply. ECF Nos. 3, 4. Upon review, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (Petitioner not entitled to hearing under 28 U.S.C. S 2254(e)(2)). For the reasons set forth herein, the Petition IS DENIED and DISMISSED with prejudice.


         On June 25, 2012, Holden was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on charges of first degree murder and openly carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. State Ct. Docket 1, ECF NO.3-1. These charges stemmed from the 2011 stabbing death of Holdenss neighbor, Dwight Jones. Prior to trial, Holden filed numerous motions, two of which are relevant to this habeas petition. First, Holden moved to suppress evidence recovered from an apartment associated with him (his motherss apartment), arguing that the search warrant used to gain entry into the apartment was invalid because the officers gained entry before they obtained the warrant, and its supporting affidavit lacked probable cause. Sept. 2, 2014 Mot. Hr'g Tr. 8-18, ECF No. 3-2; see Md. Ct. Spec. App. Op. 6-7 (text of affidavit). The Circuit Court denied this motion. Sept. 2, 2014 Mot. Hr'g Tr. 18.

         Second, Holden moved to exclude evidence that the State intended to present at trial regarding his DNA profile, which was obtained by law enforcement during the course of an unrelated 2006 criminal investigation. Id. at 27, 62. Holden argued that the DNA profile should have been expunged because Holden was not charged in the 2006 investigation. Id. at 27, 62-66. Further, Holden contended that the DNA profile was not probative, as it neither included nor excluded him as a contributor of DNA found in an apartment near the crime scene. Id. at 63. The Circuit Court granted the motion in part, prohibiting the State from explaining the circumstances surrounding the collection of Holdenss DNA in 2006, but otherwise denying Holdenss motion and allowing the State to use the DNA profile. Id. at 65.

         Following a jury trial, Holden was convicted of both charges. On September 10, 2014, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder conviction and a consecutive term of three years' imprisonment for the weapons conviction. State Ct. Docket 1-2. Holden filed a direct appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals arguing, among other grounds not relevant to this petition, that "[t]he trial court erred by failing to grant Mr. Holdenss Motion to Suppress the items recovered from the apartment where he resided, " and "[t]he trial court erred in admitting evidence at trial relating to Mr. Holdenss DNA profile." Md. Ct. Spec. App. Op. 1 n.1. In an opinion issued on March 15, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Holdenss convictions. Mat 2.

         Regarding the suppression Issue, the Court of Special Appeals rejected Holdenss argument that the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant contained insufficient probable cause. The Court concluded:

[T]he issuing judge had a substantial basis to conclude that the search warrant for apartment 701 South was supported by probable cause. The warrant affidavit related that the responding officers found Jones's dead body, in his apartment (704 South). He had sustained multiple stab wounds. Inside that apartment, the police found "suspected blood and signs of a struggle." A blood trail led from that apartment to the apartment complex hallway. Witnesses advised that Jones had been in apartment 707 South, drinking with [Holden] and several other people; that Jones, [Holden], and [Holden's aunt] went to Jones's apartment, and that, early on the morning of December 10, 2011, Jones had expressed fear of [Holden]. Specifically, he was fearful because he had had to throw [Holden] out of his apartment because he had caught him "going through his drawers." Jones told White [who lived in 707 South] about that and then returned to his own apartment. Later that morning, he was found dead in his apartment. Officers also learned that Sandra, [Holden]ss mother, resided in apartment 701 South, and that a sign in sheet dated December 10, 2011 showed a "G. Holden" (the appellant) signing in and "utilizing the tenant/address of 701 S.-.. Holden." That apartment was on the same floor as the apartment in which Jones was found deceased.
Because there was a blood trail leading from Jones's apartment to the common hallway, a reasonable inference could be drawn that, at a minimum, blood evidence could be found in other locations on the same floor, and most likely in 701 South where the person with whom Jones had just had a dispute and about whom Jones had expressed fear was living.

Id. at 9-10. The court concluded that it did not need to "determine whether the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applie[d] because the issuing judge had a substantial basis for finding probable cause to search apartment 701 South." Id. at 10.

         As to the DNA profile issue, the Court of Special Appeals rejected Holdenss argument that the evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible, explaining that "[i]n light of [Holdenss trial counsels]] repeated suggestions that the police investigation was lacking, evidence that the appellant's DNA profile was compared with the DNA evidence at the scene, while ultimately inconclusive, was relevant to show that the police conducted a thorough investigation"" Id. at 14- 15. Further, the Court of Special Appeals was not persuaded by Holden's challenge regarding the absence of evidence of the chain of custody of the 2006 DNA profile. The Court explained that in Holden's case, "chain of custody is not pertinent, because the State did not introduce the appellant's 2006 DNA sample, nor did the State present evidence that the appellant's [2006 DNA] sample matched the physical evidence taken in this case." Id. at 16-17. Finally, the Court of Special Appeals noted that, even if it had concluded that the DNA evidence should have been excluded as irrelevant or for lack of chain of custody evidence, such error would be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the DNA profile evidence neither included nor excluded Holden as the source of the DNA in question. Id. at 15, 17.

         Holden filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Maryland Court of Appeals, raising multiple grounds including the suppression of evidence seized via the allegedly flawed search warrant and the use of Holden's DNA profile, as discussed above. Cert. Pet. 5-14, ECF No. 3-5 (starting at 1); Cert. Pet. Supp. 11-16, ECF No. 3-6. On June 24, 2016, the Court of Appeals denied the petition. Md.Ct.App. Order, ECF No. 3-5 (at 43). Holden did not seek review by the United States Supreme Court; thus, his convictions became final on September 22, 2016, when the time for seeking such review expired. See Sup. Ct. Rule 13.1 (petition for writ of certiorari to be filed no later than 90 days of judgment from which review is sought). He did not seek post-conviction relief from the State court.


         On April 20, 2017, [1] Holden filed this ยง 2254 petition. He asserts that ...

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