Adetula v. Warrior

Decision Date28 December 2015
Docket NumberCase No. 13-CV-0069-JED-PJC
PartiesAMOS O. ADETULA, Petitioner, v. MAURICE WARRIOR, Interim Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is the 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) filed by Petitioner, Amos O. Adetula, a state prisoner appearing pro se. Petitioner also filed a brief in support of the petition (Doc. 2). Respondent filed a response (Doc. 6) and provided the state court records (Doc. 7) necessary for adjudication of Petitioner's claims. Petitioner did not file a reply. For the reasons discussed below, the petition for writ of habeas corpus shall be denied.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner challenges his convictions of Second Degree Murder and Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon entered in Tulsa County District Court, Case No. CF-2009-113. Doc. 6-3 at 1. The convictions resulted from the death of Norris Walton and injury of Joseph Doyle sustained in a drive-by shooting. Doc. 7-4, Tr. Vol. III at 184; Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. II at 188. The record demonstrates that, on January 7, 2009, Petitioner, his girlfriend Erica Gordon, his friend Derek Thomas, and Thomas' girlfriend Aisha Walker left Walker's apartment and drove to a liquor storecalled "The Glass House," located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. II at 208, 211, 220. Thomas had borrowed Walker's brother's Ford Explorer and was driving with Walker sitting beside him, Gordon sitting directly behind him, and Petitioner sitting in the backseat on the passenger side. Id. at 209, 219.

As they approached the Glass House, Petitioner saw Doyle, a man he believed had been involved in trying to rob him and Thomas a month prior. Id. at 220; Doc. 7-5, Tr. Vol. IV at 16-17. Walker testified that Petitioner said, "[t]here's that dude we got into it with." Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. II at 220. Petitioner testified that he wanted to get out of the car, but Thomas would not let him and told him to "hang on." Doc. 7-4, Tr. Vol. III at 7; Doc. 7-5, Tr. Vol. IV at 18. Thomas then drove out of the parking lot of the Glass House.2 Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. II at 221. When the prosecutor asked if there was "any conversation about where you were going when you left the Glass House," Walker stated, "[n]o, we just made the block." Id. at 222.

By the time the vehicle came back around the block toward the Glass House, Doyle had crossed the street and was walking in front of a gas station that was situated on the driver's side of the vehicle. Id. at 186-87. Doyle testified that he heard gun shots coming from the direction of the vehicle driven by Thomas, and then a bullet struck him in the leg. Id. at 188. Additionally, a bullet struck and killed Walton, a bystander. Doc. 7-4, Tr. Vol. III at 184.

After the shooting, Petitioner, Thomas, Walker, and Gordon left the city. Id. at 25. Walker, Gordon, and Petitioner eventually returned to Tulsa, while Thomas stayed in California where hewas later arrested. Id. at 27-28, 92. While in custody in California, Thomas made a spontaneous admission to a member of the Sacramento Sheriff's Department related to the incident on January 7, 2009. Id. at 94. After being advised of his Miranda rights,3 Thomas stated that he, and not Petitioner, had been the shooter that day. Doc. 7-9, O.R. Vol. II at 221-22. In his confession, Thomas accurately recounted most of the facts of the incident, although there were some discrepancies. See id. at 225-49.

Petitioner and Thomas were both charged in Tulsa County District Court, Case No. CF-2009-113, with First Degree Murder for the death of Walton and Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon for the shooting of Doyle. Doc. 6-1 at 1; Doc. 6-3 at 1; Thomas v. State, Case No. F-2012-4 at 1 (Okla. Crim. App. 2013) (unpublished) (available at www.oscn.net). The trial court granted a motion to sever defendants' trials, Doc. 6-1 at 1,4 and Steven Hightower and Shannon McMurray represented Petitioner at his trial. Doc. 6-3 at 8.

At trial, the witnesses' testimonies differed as to whether Petitioner or Thomas was the shooter. Walker testified that as the vehicle passed the gas station she "heard the shooting, looked back, and [saw] the gun in [Petitioner's] hand." Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. II at 223. When asked specifically what she saw, Walker testified that she saw Petitioner's "arm out the window with the gun shooting," id., and that Petitioner fired six times. Id. at 225. Gordon testified that, as they drove in front of the gas station, Petitioner "told me to watch out and he pulled my head to his arm." Doc.7-4, Tr. Vol. III at 9. According to Gordon, she did not see who fired the shots, but she saw Petitioner "pulling a gun out of . . . the right side of the car" before the shots were fired. Id.

Walker's testimony was countered by defense witness Helen Goudeaux. Goudeaux was sitting in her car at a red light when the vehicle driven by Thomas pulled up beside and slightly in front of her vehicle. Doc. 7-5, Tr. Vol. IV at 31, 33. In contrast to Walker's testimony, Goudeaux testified that the driver of the vehicle "was yelling at somebody over at the service station" and "started shooting over towards the service station." Id. at 32. Goudeaux also testified that Petitioner's skin tone was "much darker than the one that shot out of the window. They weren't the same color." Id. at 36.

At trial, Petitioner testified in his own defense. Petitioner admitted that he had a gun and pulled it out, but denied firing the gun. Id. at 12-13. Instead, Petitioner stated that Thomas fired the shots out of the front driver's side window. Id. at 13, 20. Petitioner testified that when Thomas drove out of the parking lot of the Glass House he believed "we [were] just gonna circle the block and come back and, you know, show 'em, like, hey, we got guns, you know, but I never intended to shoot anybody you know . . . I had no idea [Thomas] was gonna shoot anybody." Id. at 13.

At the beginning of Petitioner's trial, the prosecution filed a motion in limine seeking to prevent Petitioner from introducing Thomas' confession to the Sacramento deputy sheriff. Doc. 7-2, Tr. Vol. I at 7. Defense counsel argued that the statement should come in under the hearsay exception for a statement against interest where the declarant is unavailable.5 Doc. 7-3, Tr. Vol. IIat 172. The trial court granted the motion in limine, finding that "the statements offered by Defendant Dereck Thomas are hearsay and are not admissible." Doc. 7-4, Tr. Vol. III at 144.

The jury found Petitioner guilty of both the lesser included offense of Second Degree Murder and Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Doc. 6-3 at 1. The jury recommended sentences of twenty-five (25) years and ten (10) years imprisonment on the convictions, respectively. Id. The trial judge sentenced Petitioner in accordance with the jury's recommendations. Id.

Petitioner perfected a direct appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA). Id. On appeal, attorney Traci Quick represented Petitioner and raised the following propositions of error:

Proposition I: The trial court committed reversible error by refusing to allow the defense to present the codefendant's confession to the crimes at bar. The Court's actions violated appellant's rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Proposition II: The State committed reversible error by improperly commenting on Appellant's right to remain silent in violation of Appellant's rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 2, § 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Proposition III: The prosecutor's misstatements of the facts and law deprived Appellant of a fair trial in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7 and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Proposition IV: Mr. Adetula was denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of his rights under the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, §§ 7, 9 and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Proposition V: The accumulation of errors deprived Appellant of a fair trial and the due process of law secured to him by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 2, sections 7, 19, and 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

(Doc. 6-1). In an unpublished summary opinion, filed April 26, 2012, in Case No. F-2011-205 (Doc. 6-3), the OCCA rejected each claim and affirmed the judgment and sentence of the state district court.

On February 1, 2013, Petitioner filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1). Petitioner identifies four ground of error, as follows:

Ground 1: The trial court committed reversible error by refusing to allow the defense to present co-defendant's confession to the crimes at bar.
Ground 2: State improperly [commented] on Petitioner's right to remain silent in violation of his rights under [the] Fifth Amendment.
Ground 3: Prosecutor misstated facts and law during closing arguments.
Ground 4: Petitioner was denied Effective Assistance of Counsel in violation of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

(Id. at 5, 7, 8, 10). In response to the petition, Respondent argues Petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief. See Doc. 6 at 35.

ANALYSIS
A. Exhaustion/Evidentiary Hearing

As a preliminary matter, the Court must determine whether Petitioner meets the exhaustion requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c). See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 510 (1982). Petitioner presented his claims to the OCCA on direct appeal. Therefore, the exhaustion requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) is satisfied.

In addition, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420 (2000).

B. Claims Adjudicated by the OCCA

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) provides the...

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