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Farris v. Ryan

February 2, 2009



Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding through counsel with an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges a 2001 judgment of conviction entered against him in the Sacramento County Superior Court on charges of three counts of sodomy on separate victims, anal penetration, and rape. He seeks relief on the ground that he was denied the right to confront the witnesses against him when, pursuant to California's "Rape Shield Law," the trial court excluded evidence that one of the victims, and possibly all of them, were prostitutes. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.

I. Procedural and Factual Background*fn1

A jury convicted defendant Darryl Wayne Farris of three counts of sodomy (Pen.Code, § 286, subd. (c)(2)*fn2 , one count of anal penetration by force (§ 289, subd. (a)(1)), and one count of rape (§ 261, subd. (a)(2)). The jury found true the special allegation that there was more than one victim within the meaning of section 667.61, subdivision (e)(5).

Defendant . . . argues the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to present evidence: (a) that one of the victims, Alicia L., was a prostitute; and (b) of Alicia L .'s price list for sexual acts. . .

Defendant was accused of, and ultimately convicted of, sexually assaulting three women: Alicia L., Brandi B., and Misty B.

Alicia L. testified about her assault as follows: On October 31, 1998, at about one or two in the morning, Alicia L.'s boyfriend took her to Rancho Cordova to return a car. Alicia L. could not get a ride back home so she started to walk home.

Defendant pulled up to Alicia L. in a van and agreed to give Alicia L. a ride to her home in the downtown area. Alicia L. got into defendant's van. When Alicia L. figured out they were not going the correct direction, she asked defendant where they were going. Defendant told her they were taking the long way.

Next, defendant pulled the van over in an isolated area. Defendant went into the back of the van ostensibly to look for some money. Defendant then pulled Alicia L. into the back of the van. Defendant next forced Alicia L. to orally copulate him. Defendant forced Alicia L. to take off her clothes and then raped and sodomized her.

After he finished assaulting her, defendant told Alicia L. he could not take her downtown and dropped her off at a nearby gas station. Alicia L. went inside and told the person who worked there to call the police.

During her direct examination, Alicia L. admitted she had prior convictions for stealing a car, burglary, and theft. On cross-examination, Alicia L. denied she was acting as a prostitute the night she was assaulted. Alicia L. denied asking defendant to take her to Alhambra and Broadway so she could make money as a prostitute. Further, Alicia L. testified she did not remember if defendant asked her if she was working. Alicia L. denied that she told the defendant she charged more than $20 for sex.

As to the events of Halloween night 1998, defendant claimed that Alicia L. flagged him down. After he agreed to give Alicia L. a ride, the pair engaged in some small talk. Alicia L. told him she was headed to Alhambra and Broadway, an area defendant identified as a stroll area for prostitutes. Defendant asked Alicia L. if she was working, referring to prostitution. Alicia L. told defendant she had worked before, but was not working that night.

Defendant testified he offered Alicia L. $20 to have sex with him plus a ride downtown and she agreed to his offer. Alicia L. purportedly told defendant this was less than her normal rate. Defendant testified thereafter, he and Alicia L. engaged in consensual sex and sodomy. After they were done, defendant decided not to drive Alicia L. downtown. Instead, defendant dropped Alicia L. off at a gas station and drove away. When he cleaned out his car, he found a $20 bill on the car seat that he believed he gave to her.

The second victim, Misty B. testified about her assault as follows: In the early morning hours of November 5, 1998, Misty B. walked to a pay phone near the home she was visiting. Misty B. was going to call her boyfriend or her grandmother to pick her up. As she was in the parking lot of the local Circle K, defendant pulled up in his van and asked Misty B. if she wanted a ride. Defendant agreed to take Misty B. home.*fn3 As they were driving, Misty B. noticed the defendant started to play with his penis. Misty B. testified defendant also smoked crack while he was driving.

Defendant pulled over to the side of the road in an isolated area. Defendant asked Misty B. if she would give him oral sex for $50. Misty B. rejected the offer. Defendant got into the back of the van. Defendant told Misty B. to come to the back of the van, and when she refused, he pulled her into the back. Defendant forced Misty B. to orally copulate him. He also forced Misty B. to take off her clothes. Defendant put his fingers in Misty B.'s vagina and raped and sodomized her.

After he completed this assault, defendant drove Misty B. to a gas station and told her to get out while he was still driving at about five miles per hour. Misty B. jumped out and asked the gas station attendant to call the police. She admitted she was intoxicated at the time of the assault.

On cross-examination, Misty B. admitted to lying to the police about being forced into the car and her misidentification of the van driven by the defendant.

Defendant's version of his encounter with Misty B. was different. Defendant testified he saw Misty B. walking down Folsom Boulevard and invited her to party with him. Misty B. accepted his invitation and got into his van. Defendant offered Misty B. $50 and some rock cocaine to have sex with him and she agreed. They smoked some rock cocaine together. Misty B. directed defendant where to park, claiming that she had taken other customers to this spot. Defendant claimed he paid Misty B. Because she was on her period, Misty B. would not let defendant have vaginal intercourse with her, but agreed to allow defendant to sodomize her. When they were done, defendant dropped Misty B. off at a local Circle K.

The third victim was Brandi B. Brandi B. testified that on December 3, 1998, she left her father's house in Rancho Cordova to go shoot pool. She was walking when the defendant drove up in a green van and offered to give her a ride. Brandi B. accepted the offer. After a while, Brandi B. asked the defendant to drive her home and defendant agreed. Defendant stopped at a gas station and bought cigarettes.

While they were driving, defendant stopped the car in an isolated area and said he needed to look for something in the back of the van. Defendant offered Brandi B. a crack pipe, but she declined his offer. After Brandi B. rejected defendant's invitation to the back of the van, defendant pulled her into the back of the van by the collar of her jacket. Defendant proceeded to force Brandi B. to orally copulate him, raped her, inserted his finger into her anus and then sodomized her. After he sodomized the victim, he raped her again.

When he was done with the victim, defendant dropped Brandi B. off at a café where she proceeded to call the police and gave them the license plate number of defendant's car. When she called the police, Brandi B. asked if she would be arrested.

On cross-examination, Brandi B. denied defendant asked her to go party with him. Brandi B. denied agreeing to have sex with defendant in exchange for money, that defendant paid her for sex, or that defendant agreed to provide her more money than the $20 he had on him if Brandi B. would have sex with him. Brandi B. denied threatening the defendant that she would call the police.

Again, defendant's version of the events was different. Defendant claimed he offered to give Brandi B. a ride to a pool hall. As they spoke in the car, defendant asked if Brandi B. wanted to get "high and kick it." Brandi B. said that was "cool." Defendant told Brandi B. he had $20 and asked if she would "mess around" with him. Brandi B. agreed to orally copulate defendant for that amount of money. During that act, defendant agreed to go to the bank to get her more money in exchange for additional sexual acts and Brandi B. agreed. The two subsequently engaged in consensual acts of sex and sodomy. Defendant, however, refused to go to the bank to get more money. Brandi B. got angry at defendant and threatened to call the police.

The jury convicted defendant of: (1) one count of sodomy against each victim-counts four, nine, and fourteen (§ 286, subd. (c)(2)); (2) one count of anal penetration by force against Brandi B.-count eight (§ 289, subd. (a)(1)); and (3) one count of rape against Brandi B.-count ten (§ 261, subd. (a)(2)). The jury also found true the allegation under section 667.61, subdivision (e)(5), that defendant committed the above offenses against more than one victim. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of the remaining counts and the trial court declared a mistrial as to those counts. The trial court ultimately dismissed them on the People's motion at sentencing. On the People's motion, the court dismissed count five.

The trial court sentenced defendant to state prison for 57 years to life.

II. Analysis

A. Standards for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Federal habeas corpus relief is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings unless the state court's adjudication of the claim:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...

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