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Ashford v. Beard

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 24, 2014

JEFFREY BEARD, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, [1] Respondent.


JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Laurence Edwin Ashford, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. At the time he filed his Petition, Ashford was in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and incarcerated at Eel River Conservation Camp. It appears that he has been released on supervised parole, as a search on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's inmate locator website (, Inmate No. G17175) has no record of him. Respondent has answered, and Ashford has replied.


On March 12, 2008, Ashford was charged with assault with a firearm with an enhancement for personal use of a firearm (count 1); making a criminal threat (count 2); first degree residential burglary (count 3); attempted kidnapping (count 4); discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner (count 5); and inflicting corporal injury on his spouse (count 6). On direct appeal of his conviction, the California Court of Appeal recounted the following facts underlying the indictment:

The prosecution case:

[Ashford's] wife claimed that she had been separated from [Ashford] since 2004. They had two children, ages 5 (a daughter) and 11 (a son), at the time of the 2008 trial.
In July 2006 [Ashford's] wife was at home with a male friend in midafternoon. The children were with their aunt. She saw her friend to the front door; he was holding a bag with a birthday gift from her inside it. [Ashford] suddenly approached the front door. She closed and locked it, leaving her friend outside.FN1 Through the peephole, she could see that [Ashford] was armed. She could hear [Ashford's] voice, sounding angry, through the door (although she could not make out any words). She ran to the bedroom phone and immediately called 911.
FN1. She was worried that [Ashford] had come in person to continue their telephone quarrel of the previous day.
Left outside with [Ashford], whom he had never met before, the friend asked his identity. Appearing very angry, [Ashford] said this was his house and his wife. Asking the friend if he thought [Ashford] was "playing around, " [Ashford] pulled two guns out of a long leather coat that looked far too warm for the July day. He pointed both of them at the friend. The friend thought that he was about to die. [Ashford] then pointed one of the guns at the dirt about 10 feet away from the friend and fired it. [Ashford] grabbed the bag with the birthday gift and threw it to the ground. [Ashford] led the friend at gunpoint back to the latter's car, and told him he wanted the friend to get the wife to open her door; the friend demurred. This angered [Ashford], who stormed over to the front door and began to kick it, shouting at his wife.
When she heard the gunshot, the wife came back to the front door to look again through the peephole. [Ashford] was now attempting to kick in the door, shouting at her. She ran to the bathroom, locked the door, and hid in the tub.
After [Ashford] kicked the front door open, the friend ran up behind [Ashford] and struck him. Following a slight scuffle, [Ashford] again pointed the guns at him, so the friend fled.
[Ashford] began to kick at the bathroom door. When it flew open, he pulled his wife out of the tub, struck her on the head, and threw her against the toilet.FN2 The toilet broke, scratching her leg. She also had bruising.
FN2. According to the 911 transcript, [Ashford's] wife was telling him that "it's not what you think."
[Ashford] dragged his wife out of the house and demanded that she get in and drive his car. When the sound of police sirens began to approach them, he told her to get back in the house. As [Ashford] walked into the garage, his wife took the opportunity to flee from the house to a neighbor across the street, where her friend was waiting for her.

The defense case:

[Ashford] testified. He denied being separated from his wife. She had moved to the Sacramento home from their house in Oakley because of a job transfer. He planned to join her.FN3 They had put the Oakley house up for sale.
FN3. In his statement to a deputy, [Ashford] had admitted being separated, with neither spouse having a key to the other's home.
Based on a conversation with his son about the source of his new tennis shoes ("mommy's friend"), [Ashford] began to suspect that his wife was having an affair. In June 2006 he got a call from his wife at work in which she reported that their son had touched his sister inappropriately. When he questioned his son about the incident, [Ashford] suspected this might be a sign that someone else had been molesting his son. When he asked his son if anyone had touched him inappropriately, the son said "mommy's friend." The son would not supply a name. When his wife arrived and he told her this, she called their son a liar.
On the day before his confrontation with his wife and her friend, he had taken along some guns in his pocket for an outing to some rural property that his family owned. He spoke to his wife over the phone; when he asked her about hearing someone in the background, she hung up. He was not able to reach her after that. He went to the Sacramento home and waited. She did not ...

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