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Watie v. Prosper

April 23, 2010

ZACCHAEUS N. WATIE, PETITIONER,
v.
K. PROSPER, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with an application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He stands convicted of carjacking, three counts of robbery and attempted robbery. He is serving a sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment. In this action, petitioner challenges his conviction for carjacking.

I. Factual Background

On direct appeal, the California Court of Appeal summarized the evidence presented at petitioner's trial as follows:

In the early evening of December 26, 2005, four friends, Mohammad Mohammad, Khalild Naiem, Qadar Tariq, and Erika Olivares arrived at a park in Sacramento in Tariq's Chevrolet Corvette and Mohammad's Honda Accord. They parked the vehicles on a street adjacent to the park and went to sit on a park bench to smoke marijuana. After a short time, the friends were approached by two men, both with guns and wearing ski masks or beanies over their faces. The men pointed guns at the victims and demanded "everything [they] ha[d]."

The robbers took money from three of the victims and the keys to Tariq's Corvette. The robbers then went to the Corvette; one of them drove the car away, and the other ran into a nearby neighborhood. The victims then ran to the Honda, began to follow the stolen Corvette, and called 911. The victims were able to track the Corvette for several miles until the Sacramento Police intercepted the vehicle and made a vehicle stop. The driver was defendant.

Defendant testified on his own behalf. He admitted driving the Corvette but denied being involved in the robbery. He claimed that he was leaving a friend's house when an acquaintance by the name of "Big Homie" arrived and offered defendant the opportunity to drive the car. Shortly after defendant drove off, he noticed that police were following him. Defendant was unable to locate "Big Homie" after his arrest.

Defendant was charged with one count of carjacking, three counts of robbery, and one count of attempted robbery. It was further alleged as to each count that defendant personally used a firearm.

A jury found defendant guilty as charged and the court imposed a sentence of 15 years in state prison.

Resp'ts' Lodged Doc. #3 at 1-2.

II. Standard of Review

An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Also, 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 Supreme Court of the United States; or

(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (referenced herein in as "§ 2254(d)" or "AEDPA").*fn1 It is the habeas petitioner's burden to show he is not precluded from obtaining relief by ยง 2254(d). ...


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