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Rodriguez v. Madden

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 15, 2014

RAYMOND MADDEN, Acting Warden, California State Prison, Centinela, [1] Respondent

Jessi Antonio Rodriguez, Petitioner, Pro se, IMPERIAL, CA.

For J. D. Janda, Raymond D Madden, Respondents: Sara E Turner, LEAD ATTORNEY, California Department Of Justice, Attorney General's Of, San Francisco, CA.


JAMES K. SINGLETON, JR., Senior United States District Judge.

Jessi Antonio Rodriguez, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Rodriguez is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Centinela State Prison. Respondent has answered, and Rodriguez has replied.


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

A. People's Case

1. Witnesses Observe Shooting

On October 16, 2008, Baldemar Solis was proceeding to the onramp of Highway 80 from the Waterman Boulevard intersection in Fairfield. An older white Mustang convertible seating at least three people was near the intersection. A Black male of medium height approached the convertible. When the light turned green, he jumped into the backseat and then fell back on the ground, losing one shoe. The man got up with a gun and fired three or more times. Solis called 911 from the nearby Safeway. He did not get a good look at the shooter's face and could not identify him.
Donald Watts was in the Safeway parking lot at the time. He witnessed a light-colored Mustang convertible with the top down and a dark SUV that cut off the Mustang. A light-skinned male with a ponytail exited the passenger side of the SUV and ran to the passenger side of the Mustang. There was an argument; one man ran one way, another the other way; seven or eight shots were fired. A young male passenger was hit in the side of his head; he went into a restaurant and out its side door. The shooter went back to his SUV and took off. Watts did not get a clear look at the shooter's face and could not identify him. Watts helped the victim.
Emergency medical technician Chris Walsh was also in Safeway. Upon hearing seven shots, he went to treat the victim who was outside the restaurant. The young man suffered a gunshot wound to his eye; the bullet " went in and out" above the victim's eye. Walsh described the shooter as a Black male, wearing a white T-shirt and black jeans, carrying a black handgun. He was of average build, wearing dreadlocks. Walsh could not identify the shooter because of the distance, and he did not get a good look at his face.
Patricia Galgano was driving on Waterman Boulevard near the scene. She heard five or six gunshots and saw flashes when the gun went off. Galgano saw a dark-complected male with a gun, average height, wearing a white T-shirt and jeans or dark pants. He had long, curly unkempt hair.

2. Physical Evidence Recovered from Scene

From the scene police officers located nine shell casings ejected from a semiautomatic weapon. A white Nike shoe was also retrieved and submitted to the DNA section of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Crime Lab, for DNA testing. DNA was extracted from the interior heel of the shoe and compared to [Rodriguez's] DNA buccal swab obtained from the Fairfield Police Department. Senior criminalist Stephanie Carter from the DOJ lab testified that the genetic profile from the shoe revealed one major and at least two minor contributors, which was not uncommon for shoes. Carter summarized her report: " The DNA typing results provide strong evidence that Jessi Rodriquez [sic] is the major male contributor to the male DNA detected on the sample." The term " strong evidence" denotes a threshold of statistical calculation such that the probability that someone else was a major contributor was approximately one in 1.1 quadrillion African-Americans, one in 65 trillion Caucasians and one in 83 trillion Hispanics. The shoe size was 7Y, an unusual man's shoe size.

3. Victim Andrews's Testimony at First Trial

Damond Andrews was unavailable for the second trial. His testimony from the first trial was read to the jury. The parties stipulated that Andrews identified [Rodriguez] in court.
On October 16, 2008, Damond Andrews, age 17 at the time, was at the home of [Rodriguez's] girlfriend. Eight people were there, including [Rodriguez], whom he knew as " Grimy" but had never seen before; Sabrina Sablan and her brother; someone named " Q"; and Shig. They were helping Sabrina's father, Paul Sablan (Sablan), move.
[Rodrigez] was upset because a necklace was missing. [Rodriguez's] girlfriend came out and asked to search everyone's pockets. Andrews would not let her search him but turned his pockets inside out.
Sabrina drove off in the Mustang with " Q" and Shig. Andrews, Sabrina's brother and Sablan drove off in another car. As they were getting ready to " hop on the freeway, " another car came alongside and tried to cut them off. Sabrina pulled over as did Sabrina's brother. [Rodriguez] got in the back seat of the Mustang. Andrews and Sablan got out of the other car and went over to the Mustang. Andrews's friend told [Rodriguez] to get out of the car; as [Rodriguez] exited, he fell to the ground. As [Rodriguez] got up, Andrews saw " something shiny" in the waistband of [Rodriguez's] pants. People yelled that [Rodriguez] had a gun. Andrews tried to grab the back of the Mustang to get in, but Sabrina drove off. [Rodriguez] pointed at the car and starting shooting, about three times. Andrews and Sablan ran. Looking back, Andrews saw the gun pointed in his direction. At some point something hit Andrews's head and he felt his head ringing, but kept running. He felt pain over his eye and realized he was bleeding when Sablan said his head was bleeding. Andrews ran to a restaurant. He was taken by helicopter to John Muir Hospital, where he gave a statement to the police. Several days later he identified [Rodriguez] from a photographic lineup.
Andrews described [Rodriguez] as mixed race, about 19 years old. His hair was long and pulled back in a ponytail. Andrews thought [Rodriguez] might want to hurt him because " [h]e thought we had his chain."
Andrews said that most of the time he did not look at or open the subpoenas he received. He was not scared to testify, but he preferred to not be in court.

3. Testimony of Sablan and Detective DeTomasi

At the time of trial, Sablan was serving a sentence in Alameda County for felony assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. Back in October 2008 he was moving from Fairfield to Alameda. He remembered a shooting and giving a statement to the police, but did not remember all the details; he might have been on drugs. He did not identify the shooter in the courtroom; the shooter was " probably . . . three times uglier" than [Rodriguez].
Thereafter Sablan reviewed the videotape of his interview with Detective DeTomasi. Apparently Sablan told DeTomasi he was living in a house in Fairfield that a " Jenny" and her father owned, and " Grimy" was also living there. Even after viewing the videotape, his answers were very ...

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