United States District Court, D. Arizona
Jorge A. Espinoza, Petitioner,
Attorney General of Arizona, et al., Respondents.
JAMES A. TEILBORG, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
John Z. Boyle, United States Magistrate Judge
Jorge A. Espinoza has filed a pro se Amended Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Summary of Conclusion.
raises four grounds for relief in his timely Petition.
Petitioner alleges juror bias, ineffective assistance of
counsel, and insufficient evidence to sustain his
convictions. Petitioner's claims are meritless.
Therefore, the Court will recommend that the Petition be
denied and dismissed with prejudice.
Facts of the Crimes.
Arizona Court of Appeals found:
Around 4:30 p.m. on May 6, 2013, Espinoza began his shift as
a commercial truck driver hauling petroleum products. After
completing a pre-trip inspection of the tanker truck, he
began driving from Yuma to Phoenix. At the same time,
emergency personnel and various officers with the Arizona
Department of Public Safety (DPS) responded to an unrelated
single-vehicle rollover accident on eastbound Interstate 8
outside of Yuma.
At the accident scene, Officer Tim Huffman reported to
Captain Anderson that a teenage girl was texting on her cell
phone when she rear-ended another vehicle, causing her to
lose control and roll over onto the shoulder. The local fire
department had arrived to provide emergency assistance. The
girl was airlifted to the hospital, and Huffman asked
Anderson to block the far right lane of travel so the
occupants of the other involved vehicle could be safely
loaded into the waiting ambulance.
Captain Anderson backed up his patrol vehicle approximately
one hundred and fifty feet, parked diagonally across the
outside lane with his emergency lights activated, and,
wearing his DPS-issued reflective vest, manually directed
drivers to merge left, away from the accident scene. Officer
Simpson stood in the outside lane farther down the highway to
prevent motorists from moving back into the right lane too
soon. By this time, several vehicles driven by individuals
working at the accident scene were lined up on the shoulder
of the highway, including one involved in the original
accident, plus an ambulance, a fire truck, three DPS patrol
vehicles, and the ambulance company chief's personal
pick-up truck, all of which were equipped with and operating
their emergency lights.
It was a clear day, and traffic was complying with Captain
Anderson's direction to merge left. After a few minutes,
Anderson and Officer Simpson observed a commercial tanker
truck approaching the accident scene in the outside lane.
When the driver did not respond to Anderson's direction
to merge left, Anderson became frantic, “jumping up and
down and waiving [his] arms trying to get [the driver's]
attention.” At some point, Anderson realized the truck
driver could not respond in time to avoid a collision and ran
off the road just in time to avoid being hit. Both Anderson
and Simpson testified the driver never looked up, never
slowed down, and never took any evasive action.
Immediately thereafter, there was a “tremendous
explosion … like a train, a freight train came through
there” as the twelve-ton tanker truck, still traveling
sixty-five miles per hour, collided first with Captain
Anderson's patrol vehicle and then with Officer
Huffman's patrol vehicle. Officer Simpson, as well as
emergency medical personnel on scene, including Barry A.,
John N., Cody P., and Donald P., all testified they heard the
noise and watched as the truck skidded sideways toward them,
jackknifed, and crushed the pick-up truck and Simpson's
patrol vehicle into the fire truck, throwing up a cloud of
dust and debris. Anderson quickly discovered Huffman in his
patrol vehicle - now an unrecognizable “mangled ball of
metal” - gasping for breath and crushed against the
dashboard. Huffman died from blunt force trauma and internal
injuries before he could be extricated from the vehicle. The
tanker truck contained volatile gasoline fumes, and the scene
was closed for more than six hours while the hazmat team
worked to evaluate and eliminate the attendant dangers before
further investigation took place.
State v. Espinoza, 2016 WL 3264113, at *1
Jury Trial and Sentencing.
jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of Negligent Homicide,
six counts of Endangerment, and six counts of Criminal
Damage. (Doc. 17-1, Ex. C, at 24-25.) The court sentenced
Petitioner to 6 years of imprisonment. Espinoza,
2016 WL 3264113, at *3.
14, 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed
Petitioner's convictions and sentences. (Doc. 8, Ex. C,
Petitioner's Post-Conviction Relief Proceeding.
did not initiate post-conviction review proceedings. (Doc. 8
Petitioner's Federal Habeas Petition.
17, 2017, Petitioner filed a Petition. (Doc. 1.) On August
25, 2017, Petitioner filed Arguments in support of the
Petition. (Doc. 3.) On October 26, 2018, the Court dismissed
the Petition because “Petitioner has not named his
custodian as Respondent.” (Doc. 6 at 2.) The Court
dismissed the Petition without prejudice, giving Petitioner
the “opportunity to amend his Petition to name a proper
November 20, 2017, Petitioner timely filed an Amended habeas
Petition, raising four claims. (Doc. 1.) The Court has
summarized these claims as follows:
(1) Petitioner's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights
were violated when the trial court failed to remove jurors 5,
6, and 14, who had personal ...