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Crockett v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 2, 2018

Charles T Crockett, Petitioner,
Charles L Ryan, et al., Respondents.



          Honorable John Z. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge.

         Petitioner Charles T. Crockett has filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 8.)

         I. Summary of Conclusion.

         Petitioner raises three grounds for relief in his timely Petition. Specifically, Petitioner alleges that (1) the State's “over[-]zealous prosecutor” engaged in “vindictive, m[a]licious prosecutorial misconduct” by “knowing and intentionally suborning perjured testimony that he presented to the trial jury” (doc. 1 at 6-11); (2) the “Trial Court committed fundament[al] prejudicial error” by “allow[ing] the State to continue to charge Petitioner as a prohibited possessor [of firearms] when, the Trial Court knew or should have known before trial that the gun charge was false” (id. at 12-13); and (3) Petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective in violation of Petitioner's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights (id. at 14). Petitioner's claims are meritless. Therefore, the Court will recommend that the Petition be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         II. Background.

         A. Facts of the Crimes.

         The Arizona Court of Appeals found:

In the predawn hours of May 26, 2011, W.H. and J.H. (the victims) were at home asleep in their bedroom. They were awakened by two men in their bedroom, who restrained them and bound them with zip ties. One of the men held a handgun. The intruders told them “Don't move and you won't get hurt.” The victims believed that their lives were in danger.
After binding the victims, the intruders proceeded to gather numerous valuables from the victims' home, including cash, coin collections, and guns. When the intruders finished, they drove away in the victims' car and another vehicle.
After the intruders left, J.H. slipped her hands free and contacted the police to report the home invasion. During the course of the subsequent police investigation, Officer Hall of the Phoenix Police Department was charged with finding defendant, whose name had possible suspect. On May 28, 2011, Officer Hall located defendant in Gilbert and began surveillance of the surrounding area. Defendant left [in] a vehicle in the early evening and the officer observed a backpack inside the car. Defendant was carrying another backpack when Officer Hall contacted him later that evening. After taking defendant into custody, Officer Hall took possession of both backpacks. When the contents of the backpacks were examined, the items were identified as the property of the victims.
Travis Correia testified that he and defendant committed the home invasion. Another accomplice, Tausha Roberts, drove defendant and Correia to the victims' neighborhood, waited in her vehicle while the men entered the home and collected the victims' belongings, and then drove to the victims' home where the men placed several laundry baskets of valuables in her car. Correia pled guilty to burglary in the first degree, armed robbery and kidnapping and, as part of the plea, agreed to testify at defendant's trial. Correia testified that defendant loaded a blue backpack with burglary tools, zip ties, and a pistol and brought it to the victims' home. After the men arrived at the victims' home, Correia used a screwdriver to pry back the screen on a screen door and was then able to unlock the dead bolt and handle lock. The interior door was unlocked and the men entered the home.
Defendant entered the victims' bedroom first and shouted “Don't fucking move.” Correia zip-tied W.H. and defendant zip-tied J.H. After locating the victims' keys, the men emptied the victims' gun safe and floor safe. They collected all the valuables they could find and left the victims' home. Defendant drove the victims' vehicle while Correia left in Roberts' car.

(Doc. 13-4, Exh. L, at 47-48.)

         B. Jury Trial and Sentencing.

         Following trial, the jury failed to unanimously agree on a verdict for the aggravated assault charges but returned guilty verdicts on the lesser- included offenses of assault. (Doc. 13-1, Exh. D, at 37-46.) The jury also found Crockett guilty on one count of Burglary, two counts of Armed Robbery, two counts of Kidnapping, one count of Misconduct Involving Weapons, and one count of Theft of Means of Transportation. (Id.) The court sentenced Petitioner to a “combined sentence of thirty-one years imprisonment.” (Doc. 13-4, Exh. L, at 49-50.)

         C. Direct Appeal.

         On September 24, 2012, Plaintiff filed timely notice of his appeal. (Doc. 13-3, Exh. H, at 7-9.) On March 28, 2013, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentences. (Doc. 13-4, Ex. L, at 45-59.)

         D. Petitioner's Post-Conviction Relief Proceedings.

         On August 16, 2013, Petitioner filed a notice of post-conviction relief. (Doc. 13 at 5.) The court appointed Petitioner counsel (doc. 13-5, Exh. R, at 7-8); subsequently, counsel filed a notice stating that she had reviewed the record and had found no colorable issues to argue in a PCR petition (doc. 13-5, Exh. S, at 9-11). On April 4, 2014, Petitioner filed a pro per PCR petition. (Doc 13-5, Exh. U, at 15-51.) Therein, Petitioner argued that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to move to sever his misconduct-involving-weapons charge before trial (id. at 18-39), and by failing to strike two jurors during voir dire (id. at 39-45).

         On September 17, 2014, the PCR court filed an order dismissing Petitioner's petition. (Doc. 13-5, Exh. Y, at 166-171.) On October 17, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for review with the Arizona Court of Appeals, appealing the PCR court's determination. (Doc. 13-6, Exh. AA, at 2-9.) The Arizona Court of Appeals granted review and denied relief. (Doc. 13-6, Exh. BB, at 17-19.) Petitioner appealed the Appeals Court decision to the Arizona Supreme Court (doc. 13-6, Exh. DD, at 23-27), but was denied review ...

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