Alba v. Quarterman, Civil Action No. 1:04-CV-639.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
Writing for the CourtMarcia A. Crone
Citation621 F.Supp.2d 396
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 1:04-CV-639.
Decision Date22 December 2008
PartiesJohn Avalos ALBA, Petitioner, v. Nathaniel QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
621 F.Supp.2d 396
John Avalos ALBA, Petitioner,
v.
Nathaniel QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
Civil Action No. 1:04-CV-639.
United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Beaumont Division.
December 22, 2008.

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Anthony S. Haughton, Gaithersburg, MD, Anthony Seymour Haughton, Attorney at Law, Houston, TX, for Petitioner.

Woodson Erich Dryden, Attorney General's Office, Austin, TX, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MARCIA A. CRONE, District Judge.


John Avalos-Alba ("Alba"), an inmate confined by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Alba challenges his death sentence imposed by the 199th Judicial District Court of Collin County, Texas, in Cause No. 219-81215-91, styled The State of Texas v. John Avalos Alba. Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, the state court record, and the applicable law, the Court finds the petition to be without merit.

I. Facts

The details of the crime are summarized in Alba v. State, 905 S.W.2d 581 (Tex.Crim. App.1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1077, 116 S.Ct. 783, 133 L.Ed.2d 734 (1996):

On the morning of August 5, 1991, [Alba] went to the Plano Pawn Shop and purchased a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol and a box of ammunition. At approximately 10:00 p.m. that evening, he arrived at the apartment of Gail Webb ["Webb"] and Bob Donoho ["Donoho"] looking for his wife, Wendy. Upon finding Wendy at the residence, [Alba] sought to gain entry while Wendy and Webb attempted to shut the door on his arm. [Alba] eventually fired his pistol into the back of the door and forced his way into the apartment. He told Wendy and Webb that "you bitches deserve this." [Alba] then grabbed Wendy by the hair and pulled her halfway out of the apartment where he proceeded to pistol whip and shoot her three times. He shot her in the back of her head, her buttocks, and the middle of her back severing her spinal cord. She later died at the hospital.

[Alba] next went after Webb, who had run into the kitchen and was now crouching on the floor. [Alba] stood over her and laughingly stated, "you deserve to die, bitch." He then shot her six times in the head and arms. Webb survived the attack.

During this time, Donoho had gone to the back bedroom to place an emergency "911" call. When he came out to check on Wendy and Webb, [Alba] asked him, "You want some of this?" and fired a shot at Donoho's head, missing by about twelve to fifteen inches.

Upon leaving the apartment, Alba was confronted by Misty Magers ["Magers"], the apartment manager, her boyfriend, and a neighbor. When Magers ran to call for help, [Alba] fired a shot in her direction and yelled, "I'm going to get you too, Misty." He then turned the gun on the other two and asked, "Do you want any of this?" They let Alba pass. As [Alba] was attempting to finally leave the complex, he ran into Officer Wallace Moreland ["Moreland"] of the Allen Police Department. Alba told Moreland, "I'm getting the hell out of here. There's a crazy son of a bitch over there shooting people." [Alba] then left. Moreland did not stop him because he was unaware that [Alba] was involved in the crime.

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[Alba] left the scene in his own car at a high rate of speed. He later abandoned his vehicle in Plano and fled on foot to a Plano bowling alley. There he came upon Ryan Clay ["Clay"], a teenager, working on a car in the parking lot. [Alba] asked for a ride and, when Clay stated that it was not his car, [Alba] pointed his gun at him and again asked for a ride. Clay complied. However, before they could leave the parking lot, sixteen-year old Michael Carr ["Carr"], the owner of the car, stopped them. Carr, realizing that something was not right, drove [Alba] as requested to a nearby neighborhood. [Alba] was apprehended on August 6, 1991, after a lengthy stand-off with the police at a retail shopping center in Plano.

II. Background

On November 19, 1991, Alba was indicted for capital murder under Section 19.03(a)(2) of the Texas Penal Code for intentionally committing murder during the course of a burglary. Alba pleaded not guilty. On May 7, 1992, after being found guilty at a jury trial, he was sentenced to death. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. See Alba v. State, 905 S.W.2d 581 (Tex.Crim. App.1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1077, 116 S.Ct. 783, 133 L.Ed.2d 734 (1996). Alba then applied for a writ of habeas corpus, which the state court denied. See Ex parte Alba, No. 36711-01 (Tex.Crim.App. Apr. 15, 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 967, 119 S.Ct. 414, 142 L.Ed.2d 336 (1998). On August 21, 2000, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated Alba's death sentence. See Alba v. Johnson, 232 F.3d 208 (5th Cir. 2000). Alba was then retried on the issue of punishment only. On March 1, 2001, he was again sentenced to death. His death sentence was affirmed on direct appeal. See Alba v. State, No. 71487, 2003 WL 1888989 (Tex.Crim.App. Apr. 16, 2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1065, 124 S.Ct. 2390, 158 L.Ed.2d 966 (2004). He then sought a writ of habeas corpus in state court, which was denied. See Ex parte Alba, No. 36711-02 (Tex.Crim.App. Oct. 15, 2003).

On June 23, 2005, Alba filed his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court. The Court stayed Alba's federal proceedings on February 3, 2006, so that he could return to state court and present a claim that the lethal injection procedure utilized in Texas violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The state court ultimately dismissed Alba's claim. See Ex parte Alba, 256 S.W.3d 682 (Tex.Crim.App. 2008). Consequently, on July 15, 2008, this Court lifted its stay of these proceedings. On July 14, 2008, Alba moved the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for leave to file another petition for habeas corpus relief, but his request was denied. See Ex parte Alba, No. WR-36711-04, 2008 WL 4356934 (Tex.Crim.App. Sept. 24, 2008).

III. Claims Presented

Alba raises twenty-five claims in his petition:

1. The State's decision-making during his trial was rooted in racial bias in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

2. Because racism infected the sentencing process, the imposition of the death penalty in this case constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

3. Evolving standards of justice decry the imposition of death sentences that are based upon racial concerns.

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4. His rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the Texas Constitution were violated by the empaneling of a jury that was not selected from a fair cross-section of the community.

5. The process by which Collin County selects its grand juries produces an unconstitutional under-representation of Hispanics and African Americans in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

6. The systematic exclusion of Hispanics and African Americans as grand jury forepersons violates the Equal Protection Clause.

7. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure's prohibition against informing jurors that a single holdout juror will cause the imposition of a life sentence violates his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

8. The many varied and independent capital-charging procedures employed by different prosecutors to determine when to seek the death penalty violate the Equal Protection Clause.

9. The capital sentencing scheme utilized in Texas violates the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

10. Prosecutorial misconduct committed before and during his trial violated the Due Process Clause and his right to a fair trial under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Texas Constitution.

11. The negative publicity surrounding the "Texas Seven" inflamed the jury in this case and violated his right to a fair trial as well as his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

12. Pretrial publicity regarding a prison escape tainted the jury pool in Collin County, Texas, rendering it fundamental error for the trial court to deny his motion to continue his second trial.

13. The trial court improperly denied his motion to exclude questions regarding or references to prison escapees Gus Garcia and Martin Gurule.

14. His trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in violation of his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

15. His appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance.

16. The trial court committed fundamental error in granting the State's motion to exclude evidence of Wendy Alba's ("Wendy") alleged affairs, as such evidence was relevant to his heat of passion defense and mitigation and forced him to testify in violation of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

17. The trial court committed fundamental error in denying his motion to exclude references to his website, as such evidence indicated that a death sentence was previously imposed in this case and forced him to testify in violation of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

18. Because he suffers from impulsive aggression, an illness similar to mental retardation, executing him would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

19. The Texas capital sentencing scheme violates the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by

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permitting a jury to find facts by a standard of less than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

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2 practice notes
  • Omotosho v. Giant Eagle, Inc., Case No. 4:11CV00441.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • January 31, 2014
    ...is not due to the system itself, but to outside forces, such as demographic changes” [emphasis added] ); see also Alba v. Quarterman, 621 F.Supp.2d 396, 414 (E.D.Tex.2008) (even assuming truth of claim that Hispanics “move more [997 F.Supp.2d 806]frequently than other groups,” the “failure ......
  • Alba v. Thaler, No. 09-70005 (5th. Cir. 10/8/2009), No. 09-70005.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 8, 2009
    ...but his request was denied. See Ex parte Alba, No. WR-36711-04, 2008 WL 4356934 (Tex. Crim. App. Sept. 24, 2008). Alba v. Quarterman, 621 F. Supp. 2d 396 (E.D. Tex. Page 3 Although the district court located twenty-five separate claims within Alba's petition, Alba requests a COA regarding o......
2 cases
  • Omotosho v. Giant Eagle, Inc., Case No. 4:11CV00441.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • January 31, 2014
    ...is not due to the system itself, but to outside forces, such as demographic changes” [emphasis added] ); see also Alba v. Quarterman, 621 F.Supp.2d 396, 414 (E.D.Tex.2008) (even assuming truth of claim that Hispanics “move more [997 F.Supp.2d 806]frequently than other groups,” the “failure ......
  • Alba v. Thaler, No. 09-70005 (5th. Cir. 10/8/2009), No. 09-70005.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 8, 2009
    ...but his request was denied. See Ex parte Alba, No. WR-36711-04, 2008 WL 4356934 (Tex. Crim. App. Sept. 24, 2008). Alba v. Quarterman, 621 F. Supp. 2d 396 (E.D. Tex. Page 3 Although the district court located twenty-five separate claims within Alba's petition, Alba requests a COA regarding o......

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