United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge
Dominic Zatraum Mathews, an inmate confined at Eastern
Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland, seeks federal
habeas corpus relief from a sentence imposed' as a result
of his May 1, 2013 guilty plea in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City. ECF No. 1. Respondents' directed response
asserts that the claims are procedurally defaulted and there
has been no establishment of cause and prejudice permitting
this court to reach the merits of the claims asserted. ECF
No. 5. Mathews' court-directed reply addresses and
disputes respondents' assertion. ECF No. 8 and 9. The
issues pending before the court have been adequately briefed;
no hearing is necessary for disposition of those issues.
See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases in the United Slates District Courts and Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); see also Fisher v. Lee,
215 F.3d 438, 454-55 (4th Cir. 2000) (petitioner not entitled
to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(2)). For the
reasons that follow, the court denies the petition and
declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
facts the State was prepared and able to establish at trial,
as agreed by the defense, were described by the State's
Attorney at the guilty plea proceeding. ECF No. 5-2. On
January 17, 2012, Mathews broke into Avery Whitmeyer's
apartment in Baltimore City and bound her with neckties.
Mathews and Whitmeyer had been in a relationship, but
Whitmeyer had ended the relationship after refusing to marry
Mathews. After breaking into her apartment, Mathews produced
a handgun and threatened to kill Whitmeyer if she did not
marry him. Whitmeyer pleaded for her life. Id. at
the encounter with Mathews, Whitmeyer was able to convince
him to take her to get something to eat. Mathews carried the
gun with him at all times during the trip. Upon returning to
Whitmeyer's apartment, Mathews restrained her again and
the two began to argue about the future of their
relationship. Mathews then shot Whitmeyer in her abdomen.
Id. at p. 38.
lost consciousness after being shot and when she awoke,
Mathews was standing over her making statements about
finishing the job and that he was not going to jail for
shooting her. Id. Whitmeyer managed to convince
Mathews that if he took her to the hospital she would not
only marry him, but would not report that he was the person
who shot her. Id. Mathews instructed Whitmeyer to
tell the hospital personnel that she had been robbed and shot
during the course of the robbery. Id. She agreed to
the story and Mathews drove Whitmeyer to the hospital,
discarding the gun and the neckties en route. Id.
Mathews was arrested at the hospital and charged with
attempted murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a
attorney, Rodney Gray, approached the bench before the jury
trial resumed on May 1, 2013, - indicated that Mathews was
willing to plead guilty, and began a discussion regarding the
sentencing parameters of the last plea offer from the court.
ECF No. 5-2 at pp. 5-6. Defense counsel's recollection
was that the offer was for life, all suspended but 20 years
but the judge indicated "I was at life, suspend all but
23, wasn't I?" Id. at p. 7. The State's
Attorney agreed to that recollection, but objected to the
sentence because he believed it to be too far below the
guidelines. Id. at pp. 6, 9. Ultimately the dispute
was settled when the court indicated it would set the range
for Mathews' sentence at a floor of life, suspend all but
20 and a ceiling of life, suspend all but 23. Id. at
pp. 9, 16-17. There was no dispute concerning a five year
concurrent sentence without parole to be imposed for the
the guilty plea colloquy Mathews was advised by his attorney
that any appeal taken would be by application for leave to
appeal and the permissible grounds for such an appeal would
be severely limited. ECF No. 5-2 at pp. 27-32. One ground Mr.
Gray advised Mathews he could raise in an application for
leave to appeal the guilty plea was ineffective assistance of
counsel. Id. at pp. 28-29. Specifically, he advised
MR. GRAY: The other thing you could argue is that you've
had ineffective assistance of counsel. I had a bad lawyer and
the only reason I'm doing this, or one of the reasons why
I'm doing this is because I had a bad lawyer and I had no
other choice but to enter this guilty plea.
That I had a bad lawyer and my lawyer had me - caused me to
enter this guilty plea. So have I done everything you've
asked me to do on your behalf?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. GRAY: Did I do anything you told me not do? Like, you
said, Mr. Gray, don't do certain things and I did them
THE DEFENDANT: No.
MR. GRAY: Okay. So based on - are you generally satisfied
with the services that have been offered to you from myself
and my ...