United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DENY PETITION FOR
WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS ECF No. 1
Antonio Trejo Perez, a state prisoner without counsel, seeks
a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
According to petitioner, the state trial court erroneously
excluded a witness’s prior statements in violation of
petitioner’s constitutional right to present a complete
defense. Because the prior statements had limited probative
value-and any value they had was potentially outweighed by
the risk of jury confusion-a reasonable jurist could find
that the exclusion of the witness’s prior statement was
appropriate. I recommend that the court deny the petition and
decline to issue a certificate of appealability.
on parole, petitioner allegedly attacked his landlord with a
pitchfork after learning that the landlord had a sexual
relationship with petitioner’s wife. He then fled to
the Texas-Mexico border, where he was apprehended. A jury
found petitioner guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, in
violation of the conditions of his parole. The Superior Court
of Merced County sentenced petitioner to 10 years in prison
and ordered that petitioner pay $2, 700 in restitution for
the assault and another $2, 700 in restitution for violating
forth below the facts of the underlying offenses, as stated
by the Court of Appeal. A presumption of correctness applies
to these facts. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1);
Crittenden v. Chappell, 804 F.3d 998, 1010-11 (9th
Seventy-two-year-old Cesar Alcordo was the co-owner of a
10-acre parcel in Delhi, in rural Merced County, since 1962.
Perez and his wife, Olga Zarate, had rented a house on
Alcordo’s property for 19 years, but moved out after
Perez was incarcerated for an unrelated incident and Zarate
was unable to continue the rental payments. Zarate moved to
Washington state. Later, while Perez was in custody, Zarate
moved in with Alcordo in Modesto for several months and they
began a sexual relationship.
When Perez was released, Alcordo urged Zarate to go back with
Perez, which she did and they lived together in Modesto.
Alcordo moved a trailer onto his property and lived there
while the house, which had been trashed, was repaired.
Sometime later, Zarate telephoned Alcordo and said she wanted
to get away from Perez. Alcordo allowed Zarate to move back
into the bedroom in the house on the property, and they
resumed their relationship. About a week before the assault,
Perez came to the house and demanded to speak with Zarate. An
argument ensued between Perez and Zarate. Alcordo, holding a
shotgun, told Perez to leave, which Perez did.
Perez returned on June 5, 2012. Alcordo was in his trailer
when the door was forced open by Perez, who entered and
pointed a pitchfork at Alcordo. A struggle ensued in which
Perez jabbed Alcordo several times with the pitchfork and
punched him multiple times in the face.
During the fight, Alcordo called to Zarate, who was inside
the house, and told her to get the shotgun and to call 911.
Zarate ran outside to the trailer and informed the 911
operator that Perez was attacking Alcordo with a pitchfork
and that she was bleeding, after also being stabbed with the
pitchfork. During the call, Perez drove off in his van and
headed for Mexico. When Deputy Sheriff Lane Clark arrived on
scene, he found Alcordo naked, covered in blood with a head
wound, cuts to his torso, and a swollen eye. He was taken to
the hospital where he received 12 staples.
Perez escaped to Mexico and was a fugitive there for over a
year before being detained and arrested at the Texas-Mexico
border. Perez initially told detectives he did not hit
Alcordo, but later retracted that statement and admitted to
punching [Alcordo] “a couple of times” and
stabbing him only once with the pitchfork. Perez denied
jabbing Alcordo in the head with the pitchfork, and suggested
that Alcordo received his head wounds by either falling or by
“[doing] it to himself.”
People v. Perez, No. F070382, 2016 WL 5118297, at
*1-2 (Cal.Ct.App. Sept. 21, 2016).
federal court may grant habeas relief when a petitioner shows
that his custody violates federal law. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2241(a), (c)(3), 2254(a); Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 374-75 (2000). Section 2254 of
Title 28, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), governs a state
prisoner’s habeas petition. See § 2254;
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 97 (2011);
Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 206-08 (2003). To
decide a Section 2254 petition, a federal court examines the
decision of the last state court that issued a reasoned
opinion on petitioner’s habeas claims. See Wilson
v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1192 (2018).
state court has adjudicated a petitioner’s claims on
the merits, a federal court reviews the state court’s
decision under the deferential standard of Section 2254(d).
Section 2254(d) precludes a federal court from granting
habeas relief unless a state court’s decision is (1)
contrary to clearly established federal law, (2) a result of
an unreasonable application of such law, or (3) based on an
unreasonable determination of facts. See §
2254(d); Murray v. Schriro, 882 F.3d 778, 801 (9th
Cir. 2018). A state court’s decision is contrary to
clearly established federal law if it reaches a conclusion
“opposite to” a holding of the United States
Supreme Court or a conclusion that differs from the Supreme
Court’s precedent on “materially
indistinguishable facts.” Soto v. Ryan, 760
F.3d 947, 957 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). The state
court’s decision unreasonably applies clearly
established federal law when the decision has “no
reasonable basis.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563
U.S. 170, 188 (2011). An unreasonable determination of facts
occurs when a federal court is “convinced that an
appellate panel, applying the normal standards of appellate
review, could not reasonably conclude that the finding is
supported by the record.” Loher v. Thomas, 825
F.3d 1103, 1112 (9th Cir. 2016). A federal habeas court has
an obligation to consider arguments or theories that
“could have supported a state court’s
decision.” See Sexton v. Beaudreaux, 138 S.Ct.
2555, 2557 (2018) (quoting Richter, 562 U.S. at
102). On all issues decided on the merits, the petitioner
must show that the state court’s decision is “so
lacking in justification that there was an error well
understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any
possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.
when a state court does not explicitly address a
petitioner’s claims on the merits, a Section 2254
petitioner must satisfy a demanding standard to obtain habeas
relief. When a state court gives no reason for denying a
petitioner’s habeas claim, a rebuttable presumption
arises that the state court adjudicated the claim on the
merits under Section 2254(d). See Richter, 562 U.S.
at 99. And a federal habeas court’s obligation to
consider arguments or theories that could ...