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Delgado v. McDonald

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 26, 2017

FLOYD DELGADO, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES McDONALD, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          William Alsup United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner, a California prisoner, filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. He claims that (1) an incorrect instruction on self-defense violated his right to due process; and (2) the prosecution relied on his post-Miranda silence as proof of guilt. Respondent filed an answer with a supporting memorandum and exhibits, and petitioner filed a traverse. All of these papers have been considered, and for the reasons discussed below, the petition is Denied.

         STATEMENT

         I. Procedural Background

         In 2012, a jury in Santa Clara County convicted petitioner of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. He was acquitted on charges of murder and attempted premeditated murder. The trial court sentenced him to a total term of 12 years in state prison. His appeals to the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court were denied. This federal habeas petition followed.

         II. Factual Background

         The following background facts are based upon the facts set forth in the last explained state court opinion, People v. Delgado, 2015 WL 3830345 (Cal.Ct.App. June 22, 2015) (Resp. Exh. F), and they are reasonably supported by the record.

         On April 26, 2009 at approximately 12:30 p.m., petitioner, and his two co-defendants Joseph Correa and Ralph Ojeda, went to the apartment complex at 711 Northrup Street in San Jose to confront Hamilton Hyatt over allegations that he had “choked, ” “pushed, ” and “cussed out” petitioner's sister, Rachel Duran (id. at 9). Hyatt and Duran were in a long-term relationship, and had gotten into a physical altercation the night before.

         When they arrived, Correa offered to go up to the apartment with petitioner. Petitioner replied, "No. It's cool. I'm just going to talk to him" (id. at 10). Correa handed petitioner a knife telling him to take it, "just in case" (ibid.). Petitioner went to Hyatt's sister's apartment, but Hyatt was not there. Before the three men left, Hyatt arrived in a car with several men. Petitioner testified that the men jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards him. Petitioner pulled out the knife and waved it around to keep them away, but not to stab anyone.

         Petitioner and Hyatt began to argue over the incident. Hyatt called Duran a "lying ass ho" (ibid.). Petitioner testified that he got angry that Hyatt insulted his sister, so he “ran at” Hyatt (ibid.). He was not intending to stab Hyatt, but the knife was still in his hand as he chased him. Petitioner caught Hyatt by the shirt when, according to petitioner, he felt someone punch him in the back of the head. Petitioner let go of Hyatt, turned around, and saw a man he did not recognize holding what appeared to be a small baseball bat. Hyatt said that he saw his cousin Michael Hazard come “the other way kicking, like a ninja kick, a karate kick in the air” (id. at 5). Petitioner reacted by swinging the knife towards the "big blur" that had kicked him (id. at 10-11). Petitioner then saw Hazard on the ground. Hazard, who had been stabbed in the neck by the knife, jumped up, ran back to the car, and started driving toward a nearby hospital. During this time, petitioner, Correa, and Ojeda ran back to their car. According to Correa, petitioner sounded panicked and said, “I think I stabbed somebody” (id. at 12).

         Hyatt and his friends found Hazard unconscious a short distance away. The paramedics arrived and pronounced Hazard dead at the scene. Sometime later at Ojeda's apartment, petitioner learned that Hazard had died.

         At approximately 11:00 p.m., Sergeant Heather Randol stopped a vehicle driven by Ojeda. As a result of the stop, Randol and three officers went to Ojeda's apartment to conduct a parole search. Petitioner and Correa were both at the apartment when they arrived. Petitioner identified himself to Randol as “Floyd Munoz” (id. at 18). At that time, none of the officers knew that petitioner, Correa, or Ojeda were suspects in Hazard's death.

         The following morning, Sergeant Randol discovered that “Floyd Munoz” was Floyd Delgado and that he was a homicide suspect. Detective Brian Spears and two other officers went back to Ojeda's apartment that day and ...


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