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PORTLOCK v. CASTRO

March 26, 2004.

DAVID E. PORTLOCK, Petitioner,
v.
R. A. CASTRO, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM HASKELL ALSUP, District Judge

JUDGMENT

The court having entered a ruling today granting denying petitioner's habeas corpus petition, judgment is entered in favor of respondent. Petitioner shall obtain no relief by way of his petition.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

  ORDER DENYING WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

  INTRODUCTION

  In this habeas corpus proceeding, petitioner David E. Portlock contends that his federal constitutional rights were violated during his criminal trial and appeals in the California courts. The record demonstrates otherwise. For the following reasons, the petition is DENIED.

  STATEMENT

  1. THE MURDER.

  On July 2, 1996, police in Ukiah found Larry Long's body under the Talmage Bridge (Exh. J-2 at 303). The ensuing investigation led to petitioner and Eric Mehtlan (id. at 315-324). A friend of the two men told police that petitioner and Mehtlan had accosted the victim in the street and demanded fifty dollars (id. at 316-17). They had forced him into the friend's car and drove to the bridge, where all but the friend exited the vehicle (id. at 319). At that point the witness drove away, leaving petitioner, Mehtlan, and Long on the bridge (id. at 321).

  Over the next few days, the friend had several conversations with petitioner and Mehtlan in which he learned what happened after his departure (id. at 322). Petitioner and Mehtlan Page 2 admitted that they beat up the victim (id. at 330). The two defendants then threw Long off the bridge, counting to three in unison and watching as he clung to the edge before falling (id. at 323, 325-326). Petitioner and Mehtlan burned their clothes and wiped their car to cover their tracks (id. at 327). Mehtlan bragged, "We're now cold-blooded killers" (id. at 328). The friend eventually approached police to inform them about what he had seen and heard (id. at 315).

  2. STATE COURT PROCEEDINGS.

  Petitioner and Mehtlan turned themselves in to the local authorities on July 6, 1996 (id. at 332). They were arraigned and charged with first-degree murder (Exh. A at 9). Petitioner initially pleaded not guilty (id. at 13). On March 4, 1997, his public defender requested a hearing to determine whether he was competent to stand trial (id. at 46).

  At a hearing on May 5, 1997, the trial court heard testimony from one doctor for the prosecution, two for petitioner, and petitioner himself (Exh. J-11 at 4, 71, 118, 174). The court found petitioner competent to stand trial (Exh. J-12 at 200, 211). On June 3, 1997, he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty (Exh. J-13 at 8). The trial court entered judgment on that guilty plea on July 8, 1997, and sentenced petitioner to a term of twenty-five years to life in prison with the possibility of parole (Exh. J-15 at 12).

  Petitioner took a direct appeal. His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the California Court of Appeal. People v. Portlock, No. A080000 (1st Dist. Oct. 2, 1998). The California Supreme Court denied review of that ...


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