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Timothy Marvin v. Matthew Cate

June 28, 2011




Petitioner Timothy Santos, a state prisoner, proceeds pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is currently serving an indeterminate prison term of thirty six years to life for convictions sustained in the Shasta County Superior Court, case number SF092448A.


The California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, summarized the facts of petitioner's offenses on direct review. These facts have not been rebutted with clear and convincing evidence and therefore are presumed correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Taylor v. Maddox, 336 F.3d 992, 1000 (9th Cir. 2004).

On a sunny September morning in 2003, Shasta County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher McQuillan was parked in a marked police car observing traffic. He testified he saw a red truck approaching and noticed a crack in the center of the windshield running from the top to the bottom. He also saw smaller cracks running horizontally. He stopped the driver of the truck because he believed that the crack impaired the driver's view. He testified that in his experience, cracks in a windshield reflect the light toward the driver and can blind him.

Defendant and his passenger appeared nervous, almost paranoid. Defendant told the deputy his registration had blown out of the vehicle. McQuillan requested back-up for his own safety. After another deputy arrived, his dog "alerted" on the truck and the deputies noticed a strong chemical smell. In the truck, the deputies found ephedrine, hydrochloric acid with ephedrine inside it, red phosphorous, iodine, marijuana, and an open container of alcohol. Based on his training and experience and the presence of these chemicals, McQuillan believed the truck was a rolling methamphetamine laboratory. He requested assistance from the Shasta Interagency Narcotic Task Force (SINTF).

SINTF Agent David Kent testified that defendant told him the chemicals were used for manufacturing methamphetamine, claimed they belonged to a friend, but admitted that he had arranged to make methamphetamine for himself and the friend. Boasting that he knew more about chemistry than all the agents at the scene, he claimed he had a patent that would speed up the process of making methamphetamine. He also told the agent he had been manufacturing it at his house in Shasta Lake City. The agents thereafter seized a treasure trove of chemicals and drug paraphernalia at the house.

Defendant's then girlfriend lived at the house with her three children, ages 8, 10, and 12. She told the SINTF agent she was upset because defendant had been "cooking" methamphetamine in their kitchen and in the bathroom. Later she recanted those statements.

Defendant testified at trial. Although he admitted he had been addicted to methamphetamine since he was 14 or 15 years old, he claimed he ran a lucrative business and supported his family. He testified he had not admitted to the officers he manufactured methamphetamine and insisted he told the officers the chemicals belonged to someone else. He explained that he used the chemicals found in his house to clean the expensive paintbrushes he used to apply finishes to decks. He claimed that Deputy McQuillan initially told him he was pulled over for speeding and then changed his justification to the windshield. Defendant testified there was "a small chip" in the windshield.

The officers impounded defendant's vehicle. The towing company operator also testified there was a crack in the middle of the windshield, but he opined that the crack did not obstruct the driver's vision. A defense investigator took pictures of the truck from between 75 and 90 feet away because he could not come inside the wrecking yard where the truck was stored. These pictures, as well as those taken by the police, were of poor quality. A crack in the windshield was not discernible in the photos.

The operator of the tow truck company sold the truck without giving defendant or his family the proper notice. The truck had not been located at the time of the first suppression hearing. When it was located about three years later, the defense made a second suppression motion based on what in its view constituted new evidence. The new owner of the truck would have testified that the windshield had a crack in it extending from top to bottom midline, but it did not obstruct his vision.

The defense also offered evidence that Deputy McQuillan, in a case many years earlier, had failed to include in his report that a defendant made incriminating statements after he invoked his Miranda rights. Defendant argues that McQuillan's credibility was at issue. He also points out that McQuillan had prior information that a red truck matching the impounded truck's description was possibly involved in sales of narcotics.

People v. Santos, No. C056347, 2008 WL 4175094, at 1-2 (Cal. App. 3 Dist., 2008).

Petitioner was convicted by jury of possession of a substance with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of a smoking device, possession of a hypodermic needle without a permit, possession of marijuana while driving, and child endangerment. The court found various enhancements for prior convictions and prison terms to be true. An aggregate sentence of 36 years to life was imposed.

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, affirmed the judgment and sentence. A petition for review to the ...

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