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Maglaya v. People

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 26, 2019




         Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this habeas corpus action filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent has answered the first amended habeas petition, ECF No. 18, and petitioner has filed a traverse. ECF Nos. 27-28. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that the petition be denied for the reasons explained below.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Following a jury trial in the Nevada County Superior Court, petitioner was convicted of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Petitioner was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison based on the jury’s findings that he had two prior serious or violent felony convictions. The California Court of Appeal affirmed petitioner’s convictions on May 26, 2015. State Lodged Document No. 10 (direct appeal opinion). Petitioner did not file any state habeas corpus petitions before filing the present § 2254 action in this court.

         In affirming the judgment on appeal, the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, summarized the facts as follows:[1]

Petitioner[2] worked as a produce clerk and bagger for a grocery store in July 2012. The grocery store issued him a box cutter in connection with his duties.
On July 15, 2012, the grocery store suspended petitioner due to an incident in the store. Later that day, petitioner saw an acquaintance named Joshua Kelgard at a shopping center. The two spoke cordially for a few minutes, but Kelgard was uncomfortable because he was a protected party in a restraining order against defendant. Kelgard’s ex-wife, who was involved in a relationship with petitioner’s brother at the time, had filed for the restraining order three to four years earlier. Petitioner and Kelgard ended their conversation, shook hands, and parted ways.
Kelgard met his friend Ashley Nachand and they walked to get something to eat. As Kelgard and Nachand stood next to each other at a deli counter, petitioner approached them from behind, stepped between them, put his hand on Kelgard’s left shoulder, and used a sharp instrument to strike him in the chest and face. Kelgard ran away from petitioner and petitioner fled the grocery store.
The treating physician testified that Kelgard suffered a circular stab wound to his chest and a laceration to his face. The chest wound had clean margins and no bruising. The wound had characteristics of a penetrating injury from a sharp object. The face wound was linear with no oozing. Either wound could have been life-threatening if it had penetrated deeper into the body. The injuries were not consistent with being punched, and it was unlikely that the injuries were caused by keys or a credit card. No. stabbing instrument was ever recovered.
That evening, police officers found petitioner hiding underneath his stepfather’s deck and arrested him. Petitioner spontaneously stated, “I did not stab anyone.”
Against the advice of counsel, petitioner testified that he did not remember going to the grocery store on the day of the incident or trying to stab Kelgard. Petitioner said he liked Kelgard and had no intention of killing him. Petitioner denied carrying a box cutter.
Petitioner said that at the time of the stabbing he was paranoid and believed that his parents were poisoning his food. He said he observed unplugged electrical devices turning on in his presence, experienced a high-pitched ringing in his ears that may have been caused by sensitivity to electricity, noticed the presence of ‘condensed energy’ in his neighborhood, perceived people acting in a threatening manner towards him, and perceived that people in the community were communicating in code. Petitioner deciphered the code by assigning numerical values to letters of the alphabet. Petitioner thought Kelgard and his friends may have been threatening him because they had put the restraining order on him.
During closing argument, the prosecutor stated: ‘I talked briefly in the beginning about concept [sic] of reasonable doubt, as well as the judge’s instructions, boiled down is reasonable equals reason. Again, it does not mean beyond all doubt, it’s a doubt with a reason you can attach to it. It’s a reason you can explain to your fellow jurors and you can all agree on.’ Defense counsel did not object.
Then, during defense counsel’s closing argument, defense counsel addressed the absence of a weapon: ‘I think we can take a look at the evidence and look at it really closely and you will find there wasn’t much in the way of a weapon there; that it probably, in fact, was the box cutter that I held up. That there was a big knife there, no one found a knife, no one saw a knife, no one testified that they saw him throw a knife away, anything like that. [¶] Officers looked around his house, they looked in the vicinity, they said they looked in the bushes, no one found a sharp-edge weapon or anything like that. [¶] I simply can’t believe that my client was attempting to kill Mr. Kelgard.’
In his closing summation, the prosecutor responded: ‘The next thing [defense counsel] also decided to talk about was box cutters, not much of a weapon. [¶] Do you remember 9-11? Box cutters were on that plane and yet the whole plane of people did not stop there [sic]. [¶] … I want you to look at the photos of the [location] where the blood trail leads out and the trail of blood at the very end. You have to ask yourself, at that point, is it not ...

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