United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner Merrick Barrington
Stedman's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1). Stedman, an inmate
confined at the North Branch Correctional Institution in
Cumberland, Maryland, seeks to attack his 1993 convictions
for murder and a handgun offense arising from the shooting of
Sean Bristol. The Petition is ripe for disposition, and no
hearing is necessary. See Rule 8(a), Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)
(2018). For reasons set forth herein, the Court will dismiss
State Court Proceedings
August 10, 1992, Bristol was shot eight times in the 2900
block of Nicholson Street, Hyattsville, Maryland. (Pet. Writ
Habeas Corpus [“Pet.”] Ex. 6, ECF No. 1-1 at
On December 13, 1992, the State filed a two-count indictment
against Stedman in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland. (Pet. at 1, ECF No. 1). On June 9, 1993, a
jury convicted Stedman on both counts: first-degree murder
and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.
(Resp'ts' Ltd. Ans. Pet. [“Ans.”] Ex. 1
at 6, ECF No. 6-1; Pet. at 1). Stedman was sentenced to life
plus twenty years on July 6, 1993. (Ans. Ex. 1 at 7; Pet. at
1). Stedman noted a timely appeal, and on April 22, 1994, the
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed Stedman's
convictions. (Ans. Ex. 2 at 20, ECF 6-2). Stedman filed a
petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of
Maryland, which the court denied on September 28, 1994.
See Stedman v. State, 647 A.2d 1216 (Md. 1994)
9, 1999, Stedman filed a petition for post-conviction relief
in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. (Ans.
Ex. 1 at 9). On May 14, 2001, the Circuit Court denied
Stedman's petition. (Id. at 12). After reopening
Stedman's post-conviction proceedings, the Circuit Court
again denied Stedman's petition on April 5, 2002.
(Id. at 14). On October 1, 2002, the Court of
Special Appeals denied Stedman's application for leave to
appeal the denial of post-conviction relief. (Id. at
15). The court's mandate issued on November 4, 2002.
then moved to reopen his post-conviction proceedings.
(Id. at 15-16). On September 26, 2003, the Circuit
Court denied Stedman's motion. (Id. at 16). On
March 19, 2004, the Court of Special Appeals denied
Stedman's application for leave to appeal.
(Id.). The court's mandate issued on April 19,
10, 2008, Stedman again moved to reopen his post-conviction
proceedings, this time based on affidavits from two witnesses
to Bristol's murder, Ralph Vogelson and Reginald Baker,
who averred that Stedman was not the shooter. (Id.
at 17; Ans. Ex. 3 at 4- 5, ECF No. 6-3; see also
Vogelson Aff., ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3; Baker Aff. ECF No. 1-1 at
5-6). The Circuit Court denied the motion on
October 21, 2008. (Ans. Ex. 1 at 17). The Court of Special
Appeals denied Stedman's application for leave to appeal
on July 7, 2010, with the court's mandate issuing on
August 6, 2010. (Id. at 18).
January 18, 2011, Stedman filed a petition for writ of actual
innocence in the Circuit Court. (Id.). The Circuit
Court denied the petition on February 21, 2012. (Id.
at 19). The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the Circuit
Court's decision on March 14, 2014. (Ans. Ex. 3 at 1,
15). The Court of Appeals denied Stedman's petition for
writ of certiorari on July 21, 2014. Stedman v.
State, 96 A.3d 146 (Md. 2014) (table).
Proceedings in this Court
January 26, 2015, Stedman filed his Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the
“Petition”). (ECF No. 1). On February 9, 2015,
the Court entered an Order directing Respondents to file an
Answer to the Petition. (Feb. 10, 2015 ¶ 1, ECF No. 2).
Respondents filed their Limited Answer to Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus and Order to Show Cause (the “Limited
Answer”) on April 23, 2015, arguing that the petition
is time-barred and that it should be dismissed on that basis.
(ECF No. 6).
April 30, 2015, the Court entered an Order granting Stedman
twenty-eight days to file a Response addressing the
timeliness issue. (Apr. 30, 2015 Order at 2, ECF No. 7). The
Court granted Stedman an extension of time to respond, (ECF
No. 9), and on June 19, 2015, Stedman filed his Response,
(ECF No. 10). In his Response, Stedman asserts that he is
pursuing an actual innocence claim, which permits the Court
to consider a petition that may otherwise be time-barred.
November 13, 2017, the Court directed Respondents to file a
supplemental response to the petition addressing
Stedman's actual innocence claim and to supplement the
record with copies of the trial transcripts, post-conviction
petitions, and post-conviction transcripts. (Nov. 13, 2017
Order at 4, ECF No. 14). Respondents filed a Supplemental
Answer to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Order to
Show Cause (the “Supplemental Answer”) on April
2, 2018. (ECF No. 25). Respondents also filed several
supplements to the record. (See ECF Nos. 18, 20, 22,
24, 25). On April 30, 2018, Stedman filed a Response to the
Supplemental Answer. (ECF No. 28).
contend that Stedman's Petition is time-barred. Under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (the
“AEDPA”), a one-year statute of limitations
applies to habeas petitions in non-capital cases for persons
convicted in state court. See 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1) (2018). The AEDPA provides, in pertinent part,
A [one]-year period of limitation shall apply to an
application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The
limitation period shall run from the latest of-
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for
seeking such review;
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the
exercise of due diligence.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
§ 2244(d)(2), “[t]he time during which a properly
filed application for State post-conviction or other
collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or
claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of
limitation under this subsection.” 28 U.S.C. §
convictions became final in 1994 before the AEDPA was signed
into law on April 24, 1996. Antiterrorism and Death Penalty
Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996).
Among the changes the AEDPA made to the law governing state
habeas petitions was the addition of a one-year statute of
limitations in non-capital cases for persons convicted in
state court as detailed above. Although the AEDPA is silent
as to how this provision applies to persons whose convictions
were final before the date of its enactment, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has clarified
that such persons had one year from the effective date, i.e.,
until April 24, 1997, to file a petition for writ of habeas
corpus in federal court. Hernandez v. Caldwell, 225
F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2000). Like petitions filed after the
AEDPA's effective date, this one-year period is tolled
while properly filed post-conviction proceedings are pending.
Hernandez, 225 F.3d at 439 (4th Cir. 2000);
Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 328 (4th Cir.
2000); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).
from the enactment of the AEDPA on April 24, 1996 to the
filing of his application for post-conviction relief on June
9, 1999, Stedman had no post-conviction proceedings pending
in state court that would have served to toll the limitations
period. Thus, the federal limitations period for filing the
instant Petition expired years before Stedman began to pursue
his state court post-conviction remedies. The Court,
therefore, concludes that the Petition is untimely under
extent Stedman asserts that his Petition falls under 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(D) based on the affidavits from
Baker and Vogelson, his Petition is still untimely. Stedman
procured the Baker and Vogelson affidavits in 2005. Stedman
did not move to reopen state post-conviction proceedings
until June 2008, and he did not file the instant Petition
until 2015. Stedman had no proceedings pending that would
have tolled the limitations period from the discovery of the
Baker and Vogelson affidavits in 2005 to the filing of his
motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings in 2008. In
addition, Stedman does not explain the nearly three-year
delay in presenting the evidence to a state court, nor does
he explain the ten-year delay in presenting the evidence to
this Court. Thus, the Court concludes that Stedman's
Petition is untimely under § 2244(d)(1)(D).