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Victoria v. Muniz

United States District Court, Eastern District of California

December 15, 2014

SHAUN ANTHONY VICTORIA, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAM MUNIZ, Acting Warden, Salinas Valley State Prison, [1]Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

James K. Singleton, Jr. Senior United States District Judge

Shaun Anthony Victoria, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Victoria is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison. Respondent has answered. Victoria has not replied.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

In resolving his claims on direct appeal, the Court of Appeal recounted the facts of this case as follows:

The now deceased victim, Rodney Scaife, was [Victoria's] constant companion, who even travelled with [Victoria] on his long-haul trucking trips. Scaife received treatment at the emergency room for stab wounds to his torso and right arm in August 2005. The wounds were life threatening, and if untreated could have been fatal. He spent four days at the hospital before being released. At the time of his admission, he told a nurse that his roommate attacked him in the shower and stabbed him. He also told this to a residential security guard, who had found him lying outside and called 911. He later died in Arkansas in September 2009, when a car struck him as he was standing outside a vehicle after a crash.
There are several accounts of how the 2005 stabbing came about. We will list them in turn. Additional facts pertinent to the arguments on appeal will be incorporated in the Discussion.
A. [Victoria 's] Sacramento Girlfriend: Two Versions Testimony
[Victoria's] Sacramento girlfriend, Megan R. (Megan or the Sacramento girlfriend), and [Victoria] began dating in April 2004. In August 2005, they had an argument that escalated into physical violence; [Victoria] struck Megan with his fist and a tool before falling asleep on her sofa. Scaife, who had been outside during the fight between [Victoria] and Megan, attempted to comfort Megan in her bedroom. He told her she should break off her relationship with [Victoria], then tried to kiss her. She rebuffed him and he left the room.
The next morning, Megan told [Victoria] he had to take his belongings and leave her apartment. When she got home that evening after midnight, [Victoria] came up to her as she got out of her car, knelt down, and begged forgiveness. She invited him to come inside and talk for a few minutes.
Scaife entered Megan's apartment about a half-hour into their conversation, and asked if he could shower. When Scaife left to get a bag out of [Victoria's] car, Megan told [Victoria] about Scaife's attempt to kiss her the previous night. [Victoria] seemed visibly angry; he grabbed his cell phone and his cigarettes and went outside. He brushed past Scaife as Scaife was coming back in.
Scaife came out of the bathroom naked and asked for towels. Megan, unsure of [Victoria's] location, called him and told him what Scaife had done. Almost immediately, [Victoria] came back into the apartment "really angry" and walked toward the kitchen mumbling that he could not believe it. He grabbed a knife from the counter knife block and walked quickly toward the bathroom.
[Victoria] opened the bathroom door and pulled back the shower curtain. From the sofa, Megan could see [Victoria] make punching motions at Scaife, and then she saw blood. She never saw Scaife holding the knife. Scaife grabbed for his clothes and fled the apartment, [Victoria] following him with knife in hand.
Megan was standing there still in shock when [Victoria] returned after a few minutes. He dropped a mesh shirt into the sink, and told Megan to get her things because they were leaving. As they drove off in her car, she could see the apartment complex's security guard kneeling over Scaife, who was lying on the walkway. They headed to her grandfather's vacant home to spend the night.
While there, [Victoria] called two or three women. Megan heard him tell one of them that he had stabbed Scaife because he had tried to rape Megan. [Victoria] also told Megan that they would need to agree on an account of what happened. After formulating several different versions, he eventually instructed Megan to tell the police that Scaife had tried to rape her; that when [Victoria] confronted him, Scaife had pulled a knife on him (that he already had with him in the bathroom); and that Scaife was stabbed as [Victoria] struggled for control of the knife.
They went to a hospital where Megan's mother worked (after telling her that they were on their way). [Victoria] had wanted to talk to Megan's mother before going to the police, because he had a good relationship with her. The mother arrived at the hospital already in the company of the police, who then arrested [Victoria].
Extrajudicial Statements
In her statement to the police, Megan initially adhered to [Victoria's] version of the incident. She claimed Scaife had tried to rape her two nights earlier. He had taken a knife into the bathroom on the night of the stabbing because he was afraid she would tell [Victoria] what had happened. When [Victoria] confronted Scaife after Megan had told him about the attempted rape, the stabbing occurred in the course of attempting to disarm Scaife, who fell onto the knife in the struggle.
As the detective continued to question Megan aggressively, she became afraid that he was not believing this story, so she told the truth as reflected in her testimony. She nonetheless repeated [Victoria's] version to the attorney she had hired to represent him initially, because she was afraid that [Victoria] would be released from jail before trial FN1
FN1. [Victoria's] attorney testified that in her interview with Megan, she had attested to the truth of the initial version in the police interview, and had changed the story only under pressure from the detective.
B. The Redding Girlfriend: More Fuel for the Fire
[Victoria] had started dating a girlfriend in Redding, Amy W. (Amy or the Redding girlfriend), in October 2003; he moved into her Redding home in September 2004. By February 2005, [Victoria] started bringing Scaife home fairly often. Amy did not like this and thought Scaife was "creepy and scary" because he had often grabbed at her, and once pushed her onto a bed and invited her to have sex as he lay atop her. She had not told [Victoria] about these incidents. But this was one of the reasons she asked [Victoria] to move out of her Redding home in the spring of 2005. Scaife had started telling Amy unsavory things about [Victoria] behind his back, including that [Victoria] had started dating the Sacramento girlfriend and would be moving in with her (contrary to what [Victoria] had said to Amy).
On the night of the stabbing in August 2005, [Victoria] called Amy after learning about Scaife's attempt to kiss the Sacramento girlfriend. Amy then told [Victoria] about Scaife's backstabbing remarks. [Victoria] told her he was going to go inside and take care of matters, but he did not sound upset.
C. Scaife's Extrajudicial Versions
Corroborating [Victoria]
An inmate testified he had known Scaife for two years preceding the stabbing. He encountered Scaife when both were in a holding cell at the jail, in what he thought (mistakenly) was the spring of 2005. Scaife asked him to deliver a note to [Victoria], who was awaiting trial on the stabbing. Scaife wanted [Victoria] to know that he would not be testifying against him. Scaife explained to the inmate that he had exposed his genitals to Megan ([Victoria's] Sacramento girlfriend) in the bedroom while holding a knife with the intent of having sex. When she rebuffed him and said [Victoria] would be angry, he took the knife with him to the bathroom. He scuffled with [Victoria] in the bathroom while trying to stab him, and fell onto the knife after dropping it.
[Victoria's] initial attorney had also interviewed Scaife in the county jail in August 2005. Scaife admitted taking a knife into the bathroom to protect himself because he knew that defendant would be upset, and said that he had been stabbed in the struggle fortheknife.FN2
FN2. Both of these statements (along with the next two recorded phone calls) were the subject of a limiting instruction, restricting their substantive use to the corroboration of Scaife's statements to the nurse and the security guard that we mentioned above (except to the ...

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