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Christopher Shawn Bryson v. Ron Rackley

October 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge


Christopher Shawn Bryson, a state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Bryson is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution. Respondent has answered and Bryson has replied.


Following a jury trial, Bryson was convicted in the Yolo County Superior Court of two counts of assault with the intent to commit rape during a burglary (Cal. Penal Code § 200(b)), two counts of first degree burglary (Cal. Penal Code §§ 459, 460), and counts of evading a police officer with reckless driving (Cal. Vehicle Code § 2800.2(a)), possession of cocaine for sale (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11351(a)), transportation of cocaine (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11352(a)), misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (Cal. Business & Professions Code § 4060), misdemeanor transportation of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11360(b)), and receiving stolen property (Cal. Penal Code § 496(a)). In February 2008 the trial court sentenced Bryson to a prison term of fourteen years to life, plus a consecutive term of six years and four months. The California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, reversed as to the two burglary counts, and affirmed Bryson's conviction and sentence in all other respects in an unpublished decision.*fn2 The California Supreme Court denied review on July 8, 2009, and rehearing on February 4, 2011. On December 30, 2009, Bryson filed a petition for habeas relief in the Yolo County Superior Court. After appointing counsel, the Yolo County Superior Court denied relief in a reasoned decision.

The California Court of Appeal summarily denied Bryson's petition for habeas relief to that court without opinion or citation to authority, and the California Supreme Court denied review on February 2, 2011. Bryson timely filed his Petition for relief in this Court on June 15, 2011. The facts underlying Bryson's conviction as recited by the California Court of Appeal: Prosecution Case-In-Chief Counts 1 and 2: Burglary and Assault In August 2007, K.M. was a student at U.C. Davis and was living in an apartment in the 1400 block of H Street in Davis. She lived with two roommates.

On August 31, 2007, K.M. went out to dinner and returned to her apartment at around 10:00 p.m. One roommate was also home that evening. At 10:30 p.m., K.M. went to bed, sleeping without clothing. Her bedroom window was slightly open.

At 5:55 a.m. on September 1, 2007, K.M. awoke because it was light in her room. She fell asleep again and, when she next awoke, she saw [Bryson] standing next to her.

K.M., who was sleeping on her stomach, saw that [Bryson] had one hand on her bed and the other hand on the far side of her body, "making a bridge over" her. She quickly rolled over onto her back. [Bryson] jumped on top of her and straddled her waist, holding her arms down. Then he said, "Shhh, be quiet." K.M. yelled, "Help, someone is in the house," and she punched and kicked [Bryson]. [Bryson] continued to grab K.M. and tried to hold her down. After a 30-second struggle, she got her knees up and kicked him off the end of the bed. [Bryson] ran out of the bedroom and K.M. heard the front door slam. She went to check on her roommate, who telephoned 9-1-1. K.M. suffered bruises on her chest and a bloody foot during the struggle.

Later that day, K.M. rode with police to Knight's Landing to view a suspect. She identified [Bryson] as the man who had attacked her. At trial, K.M. identified a photograph of her other roommate and some of that roommate's friends. The photograph, which had been in the roommate's bedroom, was later found in [Bryson's] pocket.

Counts 8 and 9: Burglary and Assault

In September 2007, A.N. was a student at U.C. Davis, and was living in an apartment in the 1400 block of F Street in Davis. She and four other women had recently moved in, but A.N. was the only one home on the morning of September 1, 2007. Before going to bed the previous evening, A.N. had made sure that the front door and the windows of her bedroom were locked. She did not know whether the windows of her roommates' bedrooms were locked as well. A.N. went to bed wearing long pajama pants and a tank top. Sometime in the early morning, A.N. was awakened by the sound of her bedroom door opening. She walked out into the hallway and saw [Bryson] walk out of another bedroom. A.N. thought that [Bryson] was her roommate's friend, so she said "hi" and saw him leave through the front door. Then she went back to bed.

Around 5:00 a.m., A.N. again was awakened by the sound of someone opening her bedroom door. The person looked similar to the person she had seen hours earlier. She asked him if he had gotten the rent check that she had posted on her roommate's door, and he said he had.

As A.N. reached to turn on a light, [Bryson] placed a hand on the clothing that covered her left breast and placed his other hand on the clothing covering her vagina. He rubbed her private parts for 30 to 40 seconds. A.N. screamed and [Bryson] ran out of the apartment.

Later, A.N. noticed that her roommate's bedroom window was wide open, the screen was off, and muddy footprints were visible in two bedrooms and the living room. Her roommate's designer purse was missing from her bedroom.

Count 11: Receiving Stolen Property

In August 2007, S.S. was a student at U.C. Davis and was living in a condominium in the 1500 block of Drake Drive in Davis. She had two housemates, one of whom had yet to move in.

On August 31, 2007, at 7:30 a.m., S.S. left her residence with all the doors and windows locked. At 11:00 a.m., she returned home and saw that the front door was closed but not locked. She also noticed muddy footprints all over the carpeting and up the stairs. She saw that the patio door had been tampered with and the kitchen window was open. She noticed that her digital camera, her handheld digital device, and $300 cash were missing from the residence. It appeared that someone had ransacked her closet and dresser drawers. S.S. did not know [Bryson] and had not given him permission to be in her condominium.

S.S.'s housemate, J.S., testified that her bedroom had also been ransacked. Her scrapbook, containing photographs from four years of high school, was missing.

K.H. was staying at J.S.'s condominium until her new apartment was ready. All of her personal belongings were at the condominium. She noticed that her bank deposit bag-containing her checks, ATM cards, and photographs-was missing from the cabinet in which it had been stored.

At 6:05 a.m. on September 1, 2007, Davis Police Officer Andrew Penrose was sent to the H Street residence to investigate the H Street burglary. As he neared the apartment complex, he saw [Bryson] driving a car. Penrose attempted to make a traffic stop of [Bryson's] car. [Bryson] initially slowed down but then accelerated to high speeds. He traveled on city streets, county roads, an Interstate freeway and a state highway, at speeds up to 130 miles per hour. Eventually [Bryson] drove onto a dead-end street in Knight's Landing and attempted to turn around. Penrose then rammed his car into [Bryson's] car. Penrose arrested [Bryson] and collected his shoes, which had grass and mud on them. In [Bryson's] pants pockets, Penrose found a crumpled-up photograph of five girls in a hot tub. (Count 3.) He also possessed two benzodiazepine pills. (Count 6.)

Sergeant Rod Refredi searched [Bryson's] car. He found cocaine and marijuana. (Counts 4, 5, & 7.) He also found a bank bag with paperwork and an ATM card. There also was a large, oversized white shirt with elbow length sleeves.

Shortly before noon on September 1, 2007, Detective Sergeant Frank Tenedora interviewed [Bryson] at the Davis Police Department. Tenedora advised [Bryson] of his constitutional rights and [Bryson] said he understood them. [Bryson] said also that he lived on Notre Dame Drive and was unemployed. He admitted that he had seen lights on the police cars that had chased him and said he had not pulled over because there were drugs in the car.

When asked about the photograph of the five women in the hot tub, [Bryson] at first claimed not to have any knowledge of the photograph. Then he claimed to know the first names of two of the five women.

Detective Tenedora estimated that the distance between the F Street apartment and the H Street apartment was 20 yards and that the two complexes were connected by a walkway.

At about 7:00 p.m. on September 1, 2007, law enforcement officers searched [Bryson's] apartment on Notre Dame Drive. In the closet, officers found a clear plastic baggie that was later determined to contain 29.25 grams of cocaine. (Count 4.) The closet also contained several photographs of young Asian women. Defense Evidence

[Bryson] testified that on the evening of August 31, 2007, he and a friend went to a bar in Davis. When the bar closed at 2:00 a.m. on September 1, they went to their friend A.J.'s house and stayed until about 4:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, [Bryson] went to a restaurant where some acquaintances told him that a party was underway near the little league field in Davis. He went to the party and stayed until shortly before 6:00 a.m.

As [Bryson] walked back to his car, two African American males approached him and asked for marijuana. [Bryson] gave them marijuana in exchange for a grey bag that he put in his car. When he got home he emptied out the bag and picked up a photograph, which he crumpled up and put in the center console of the car. [Bryson] then got back in the car and went to see if the party on F Street was still going on.

When [Bryson] got to F Street, he saw police activity, became nervous because of the drugs in his car, and tried to outrun the police.

[Bryson] admitted that the drugs in the car belonged to him. However, he denied entering the Drake Drive, F Street, or H Street residences. He did not know how mud got into his car.

[Bryson] presented the testimony of two witnesses who were standing in a park near F Street at about 6:00 a.m. on September 1 when they saw an African American man running or speed walking through the park. One witness testified that ...

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