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Tetso v. Dovey

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 25, 2019



          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Dennis Joseph Tetso, an inmate confined at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, seeks to attack his 2010 convictions for second degree murder. ECF Nos. 1, 4. In a limited answer, Respondents argue that the petition is time-barred under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDP A"). ECF No. 10. Tetso has responded. ECF No. 12. After reviewing these papers, the court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(2). For reasons set forth herein, the Petition will be denied and dismissed.

         Procedural History

         In October of 2010, after a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Tetso was convicted of second degree murder. ECF No. 10-1; see Tetso v. State, 205 Md.App. 334 (2012). Tetso was sentenced on November 23, 2010, to a thirty year term of confinement, with all but eighteen years suspended, followed by five years' supervised probation. Tetso, 205 Md.App. at 240. He noted a timely appeal, and on June 4, 2012, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed his conviction. The court's mandate issued on July 5, 2012. ECF No. 10-1, p. 14. Tetso filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which was denied on September 24, 2012. Tetso v. State, 428 Md. 545 (2012) (table). Therefore, Tetso's convictions became final on December 23, 2012. See Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 328 & n. 1 (4th Cir. 2000)(noting that time for appealing state court conviction concludes when time for filing petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, 90 days, expires); see also Sup. Ct. Rule 13.1 (certiorari petition is to be filed within 90 days of the date of the challenged judgment).

         Tetso filed several post-trial motions including a motion for new trial, multiple motions to revise sentencing credit, multiple motions for reconsideration of sentence pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-345(e), and a motion to correct an illegal sentence under Maryland Rule 4-345(a). ECF No. 10-1, pp. 12-15. Each motion was denied. Id. The last motion was resolved against Tetso in an unreported opinion issued by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on December 23, 2013. Id., p. 15. The Court's mandate issued on January 22, 2014. Id. Thereafter, on April 21, 2014, the Maryland Court of Appeals refused Tetso's Petition for Writ of Certiorari. Tetso v. State, 437 Md. 640 (23014) (table). Tetso has filed nothing else in state court. ECF No. 10-1, pp. 15-16.

         Tetso filed the instant petition on August 8, 2018.[2] ECF No. 1. In the Petition, as supplemented, Tetso contends that: (1) since the victim's body was not found, the State's evidence of criminal mens rea was insufficient to justify his conviction (ECF No. 4, pp. 3-8); (2) the State obtained evidence illegally (ECF No. 4, p. 3, 9-12); (3) his sentence is illegal because the sentencing court refused to award credit for time served on house arrest; (ECF No. 4, p. 3 13-15); and (4) ineffective assistance of trial counsel (ECF No. 1, p. 2-3).

         On December 21, 2018, pursuant to the court's Order, Respondents filed a limited answer, arguing that the Petition is time-barred and should be dismissed on that basis. ECF No. 10. The court issued an Order on December 21, 2018, granting Tetso twenty-eight days from that date to file a response addressing the timeliness issue. ECF No. 11. Tetso's response was received on January 7, 2019. ECF No. 12.


         The threshold issue in this case is the timeliness of the petition. Only if the Petition is timely may the court reach the merits of Tetso's claims.

         A petition for a writ of habeas corpus may be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). However, 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); Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011). Section 2244(d)(1) provides that:

A 1-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;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made ...

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