The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARTIN JENKINS, District Judge
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Before the Court is Petitioner Craig Clifford Busch's
("Petitioner") petition for writ of habeas corpus ("Petition").
In May 2001, the Lake County Superior Court held a three-day
evidentiary hearing, at the conclusion of which the court
summarily denied the habeas petition. Having reviewed the moving
and responding papers including the supplemental materials
submitted by the parties, and for the following reasons set forth
herein, the petitioner's writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
On the morning of February 2, 1997, Petitioner was angry with
George Steven Wilson ("victim") because the victim moved out of
Petitioner's ranch.*fn1 Petitioner told a number of people
that he had decided to kill the victim. On the night of February
2, 1997, the night of the victim's death, the victim was last seen in the company of Petitioner and
his companions. According to the companions, the victim's truck
got stuck in mud and the victim was forced to stay behind with
The victim was found dead near his truck, with three bullet
wounds in the back of his head. The location of the homicide was
a place Petitioner had previously declared a good spot to carry
out a murder. Petitioner was taken into custody. While
incarcerated, he told a jailhouse informant where he hid the
murder weapon, and a ballistics test later confirmed that the
weapon was used in the killing.
On May 12, 1997, the District Attorney of Lake County filed an
information against Petitioner, charging one count of first
degree murder, in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 187(a).
Petitioner was further charged with: (1) personally using a
firearm in the commission of the above offense, within the
meaning of Cal. Penal Code § 1203.06; (2) intentionally
inflicting great bodily injury on the victim, within the meaning
of Cal. Penal Code § 1203.075(a)(1); and (3) being armed in the
commission of the charged offense within the meaning of Cal.
Penal Code § 12022.5(a).
Petitioner entered a negotiated plea of guilty to a charge of
first degree murder. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the
enhancements were dismissed, and Petitioner's unrelated drug
charges and the pending perjury charges against his girlfriend
were not filed. Petitioner was subsequently sentenced to an
indeterminate prison term of 25 years-to-life.
The Court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
"on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a
State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation
of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975).
A petition for writ of habeas corpus is reviewed under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 399 (2000). The AEDPA
prohibits a federal district court from granting a petition
challenging a state conviction on the basis of a claim that was
reviewed on the merits in state court unless the ruling "was
contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," or "was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of evidence
presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Also, a district court must presume a state court's factual
findings are correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e).
A district court may not grant the writ of habeas corpus simply
because the state court erroneously or incorrectly applied
clearly established federal law. Williams, 529 U.S. at 411.
Rather, the state court's "application must also be objectively
unreasonable." Id. Furthermore, a state court judgment arrived
at erroneously should only be overturned if the error had a
"substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the
jury's verdict." Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 795 (2001).
Where the state court provides no rationale for its conclusion,
the state court decision does "not warrant the deference we might
usually apply," and the Court may independently review the claims
of the petition. Delgado v. Lewis, 223 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir.
2000) (citing Delgado v. Lewis, 168 F.3d 1148, 1152-53 (9th
Cir. 1999)). The Court's review is not de novo, "but an
independent review of the record is required to determine whether
the state court clearly erred in its application of controlling
federal law. Only by that examination may we determine whether
the state court's decision was objectively reasonable."
Delgado, 223 F.3d at 982 (citation omitted).