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August 10, 2005.

JEANNE S. WOODFORD, et al. Respondents.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARTIN JENKINS, District Judge



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 truck.

  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).


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