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Sandoval v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 17, 2019

Nora Y Sandoval, Petitioner,
Charles L Ryan, et al., Respondents.


          Honorable D. Thomas Ferraro, United States Magistrate Judge

         Nora Y. Sandoval (“Petitioner”), presently incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville in Goodyear, Arizona, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”). (Doc. 1.) Before this Court are the Petition, Respondent's Limited Answer, and Petitioner's Reply to the Limited Answer. (Doc. 1, 11, 12.) This matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Ferraro for Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 13.) As more fully set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court, after its independent review of the record, dismiss the Petition.


         Petitioner was indicted for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Arizona Superior Court, Mohave County on September 19, 2013. (Doc. 11-1 at 4-5.) Petitioner, with the advice of her counsel, pled guilty to the reduced charge of second-degree murder on March 28, 2014. (Doc. 1 at 1-2; Doc. 11-1 at 7-10.) The factual basis for Petitioner's guilty plea was recorded at the change of plea hearing as follows:

THE COURT: Counsel, keeping in mind that I know absolutely nothing about this case, what would be the factual basis for the defendant's plea?
MS. MCCOY: Your honor, this is a case where, in the summer of 2011, an individual stole methamphetamine from Nora Sandoval, and word on the street following that theft was that Ray Sanchez had done that, or had helped in some way, and that Nora Sandoval wanted him found.
And several individuals reported to the police that they had spoken with Ray, and he appeared concerned that Nora Sandoval was looking for him. They spoke with the person who in fact stole the methamphetamine, who laughed and said Ray Sanchez had nothing to do with it, but he knew that that was the rumor. And that was essentially what was going on in the summer of 2011.
On August 20th, 2011, Ray Sanchez was telling friends that Nora was trying to find him, that he was scared; and at 3:00 p.m. on that particular date, Nora Sandoval purchased shower curtains and various cleaning supplies at, I believe it was a Family Dollar in Bullhead City. And then her cousin, who was with her, was dropped off at home and didn't see Nora again for a while. Chase Salveson, during that time period and that afternoon, said that he was going to take care of something for Nora; and at 4:00 p.m., Ray was dropped off by his taxi at Chase Salveson's home, and Chase kicked out all of his roommates and had the house to himself with Ray at that point. The next morning, the roommates were home and said that the home smelled of beach and other chemicals.
The defendant - the victim was found wrapped in the shower curtains that Nora had purchased the hour prior to the victim going to Chase Salveson's home. Chase Salveson's DNA was found in the duct tape holding the victim together, and the victim had been stabbed dozens of times, murdered and wrapped in those particular shower curtains, and the apartment had been cleaned.
THE COURT: Based on the record, the court finds the defendant has knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily pled guilty to second degree murder, a class 1 felony as charged within count 1. The court finds that there is a factual basis for the plea.

(Doc. 111-1 at 26-28.) On April 25, 2014, Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-two years imprisonment for second degree murder. Id. at 107, 111.

         Post-Conviction Relief Proceedings

         Petitioner's first Notice of Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”) was filed on May 7, 2014. Id. at 118-20. PCR counsel was appointed to represent Petitioner on May 15, 2014. Id. at 123. Petitioner's court appointed PCR counsel filed a Notice of Finding No Colorable Claim for Post-Conviction Relief and Motion to Withdraw as Counsel on October 17, 2014. Id. at 125-26. On October 27, 2014 the trial court entered an order giving Petitioner until December 8, 2014 to file a pro se PCR petition. Id. at 128. Petitioner filed a timely pro se PCR petition on November 20, 2014. Id. at 130-34. Petitioner raised one ground for relief:

My attorney had told me if I signed he would do my Rule 32 for me but instead he sent me the papers [sic] said I had to do myself. I felt he lied to me. I also said I had new evidence could he look at it. He didn't bother. Too busy trying to get me to sign.

Id. at 131. Petitioner's PCR petition was denied on December 4, 2014. Id. at 136-37. Petitioner did not seek review of the trial court's denial of her first PCR petition in the Arizona Court of Appeals or the Arizona Supreme Court. (Doc. 1 at 5.)

         Petitioner filed a second pro se PCR petition on March 20, 2015. (Doc 11-1 at 139-142.) On April 6, 2015, Petitioner was appointed counsel for this second PCR petition. Id. at 145-46. On May 12, 2016, Petitioner's attorney filed a Supplemental Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. (Doc. 11-2 at 2-16.)

         Petition's second PCR petition sought relief on three grounds. Petitioner claimed the prosecution withheld material disclosure regarding DNA evidence and that she would not have pled guilty had she known that DNA evidence only directly linked her co-defendant to the murder. Id. at 2. Petitioner claimed that her co-defendant later when to trial and was found not guilty on the murder charge and, thus, the outcome would have been different had she gone to trial. Petitioner also claimed that her trial counsel was ineffective “for improperly advising [her] that DNA evidence existed that linked her to the ...

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