The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hamilton, District Judge.
DENIAL OF PETITION FOR WRIT
OF HABEAS CORPUS
Now before the court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed
by state prisoner, Jane Ellyn Benson, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Having reviewed the parties papers and carefully considered their
arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the
court hereby DENIES petitioner's petition.
On June 15, 1987, Jane Ellyn Benson, ("petitioner"), went to the home
of Elaine Wright ("Wright") and her fiance, Joe McMahon ("McMahon")
believing that McMahon had stolen some of her property. Around 7 a.m.,
petitioner burst into the bedroom where McMahon and Wright were sleeping
and screamed at them demanding the return of her property. Petitioner was
carrying a Raven 25 — caliber pistol in her right hand. She fired,
one shot into the floor, moved closer to the bed, and then fired a second
shot in the same direction.
Petitioner left the bedroom with McMahon following her into the living
room, and then walked back into the bedroom where Wright remained in
bed. McMahon heard shouting, and then a third shot. McMahon and Melinda,
Wright's sister, ran into the bedroom and found petitioner standing
several feet away from the bed facing Wright, still holding the gun in
her right hand. Wright had been shot in the chest and died of her
Petitioner contended that Wright was accidentally shot when Wright
attempted to grab the gun from petitioner. However, forensic tests
revealed that accidental discharge of the gun was unlikely since no
gunshot residue was found on Wright's. hands. The tests also proved
inconsistent with petitioner's testimony that Wright was near the muzzle
when the gun was fired.*fn1
Petitioner has a history of medical and drug abuse problems. At the
time of her arrest, petitioner suffered from chronic back pain arising
from a 1979 back injury and two surgical attempts to repair that injury.
She regularly abused alcohol and drugs including marijuana,
methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and various prescription drugs. She
also used a TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator) unit to
control pain. On the morning of the crime, petitioner admitted to being
under the influence of methamphetamine.
Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus concerns the periods
she was in custody prior to and during her trial. Petitioner was
arrested, booked for murder, and taken into custody at the Lake County
Jail on June 16, 1987. She remained in custody until June 29, 1987, when
she was released on bail. From June 16 to June 29, Lake County jail
medical staff prescribed petitioner the following drugs: Valium, an
anti-anxiety medication to relieve muscle spasms; Bentyl, an
antispasmodic for gastrointestinal tract; Robaxin, a muscle relaxant;
Tagamet, an antacid; and Phenergan, an expectorant for cough. The medical
staff administered these drugs in varying combinations and doses.
The court ordered petitioner back into custody on January 11, 1988, for
failure to appear in court. Petitioner was released on bail again on
January 28, 1988, but was remanded back into custody on February 3 for
failure to appear in court. The court found a. reasonable basis for her
first absence on January 11, excused it, and renewed her bail
eligibility. She was remanded a second time on February 3 because she
arrived a few minutes late for court. After which, petitioner remained in
custody throughout her trial up until her trial concluded and she was
sentenced on April 1, 1988.
Starting on February 3, 1988, when petitioner returned to jail, she
complained of back pain and insomnia for which the jail medical staff
administered a combination of drugs including: Benadryl to aid with
sleep; Motrin, an anti-inflammatory analgesic; Valium for petitioner's
back muscle spasms; a cocktail of Tylenol 3 with Codeine, an analgesic,
combined with Robaxin and Nalfon, an anti-inflammatory, to relieve pain.
The mental health unit also prescribed Elavil, an anti-depressant and
Vistaril, an anti-anxiety drug. The medical treatments usually lasted for
several days to a week, sometimes up to nineteen days depending on the
nature of petitioner s physical condition and complaints. Petitioner also
requested to see her own doctor and that her TENS unit from home be
brought to her for her back pain. However, petitioner failed to follow up
on these requests.
On February 16, 1988, a Lake County jury convicted petitioner of
second-degree murder, with enhancements for use of a firearm (Cal.Penal
Code §§ 187 and 12022(a) and 12022.5(a)(1)). She was sentenced to 17
years to life in prison. The California Court of Appeals affirmed
petitioner's conviction and sentence on February 25, 1989. The California
Supreme Court denied review on August 10, 1989.
On March 22, 1988, petitioner filed her first state habeas corpus
petition in Lake County Superior Court alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel and inadequate medical care. On April 12, 1988, petitioner filed
a second petition, which was consolidated with the first petition. On
April 22, 1988, the superior court denied the claim of inadequate medical
care and shortly thereafter on July 22, 1988, petitioner voluntarily
dismissed her ineffective assistance claim and withdrew her habeas
petition on that issue.
On March 7, 1991, petitioner filed a second state habeas petition in
superior court which was denied on the day it was filed. The California
Court of Appeals denied her petition for review on April 3, 1991.
Subsequently, the California Supreme Court denied her petition on May
On November 17, 1994, petitioner filed her second federal habeas
petition. She also moved to enlarge the record to reassert her claim that
she had been involuntarily medicated without her consent and that the
medication compromised her ability to fully participate in her defense
during trial. On November 15, 1995, this court granted the motion to
expand the record and ordered respondent to show cause why a writ should
not be issued. On May 28, 1996, this court dismissed the petition ...