Bly v. St. Amand, CIV.A. 08–10005–MLW.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtWOLF
Citation9 F.Supp.3d 137
PartiesJeffrey BLY, Petitioner, v. Peter ST. AMAND, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. 08–10005–MLW.,CIV.A. 08–10005–MLW.
Decision Date31 March 2014

9 F.Supp.3d 137

Jeffrey BLY, Petitioner,
Peter ST. AMAND, Respondent.

No. CIV.A. 08–10005–MLW.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts.

Signed March 31, 2014

Petition denied.

[9 F.Supp.3d 144]

Jeffrey Bly, Shirley, MA, pro se.

Pamela L. Hunt, Susanne G. Reardon, Office of the Attorney General, Boston, MA, for Respondent.


WOLF, District Judge.

On September 25, 1995, Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Paul McLaughlin was shot and killed. Petitioner Jeffrey Bly was charged with McLaughlin's murder. Bly was tried by jury in Suffolk Superior Court in May 1999. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Bly's conviction was affirmed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the “SJC”). Bly moved for a new trial. His motion was denied. He sought leave to appeal the decision denying him a new trial. His request for leave to appeal was denied as well.

[9 F.Supp.3d 145]

Bly filed, in this court, a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the “Petition”). The Petition initially presented eight claims. On March 22, 2009, the court permitted Bly to amend his Petition to assert three additional claims.

For the reasons explained in this Memorandum, the Petition is being denied. The essence of these reasons is as follows.

First, the claims added to the Petition by way of amendment were considered by the Massachusetts courts and were found not to present “new and substantial” questions. Under First Circuit precedent, these claims are, therefore, procedurally defaulted. Bly does not satisfy any of the exceptions to the bar on procedurally defaulted claims. Accordingly, the court is not deciding the merits of these claims.

In the remaining claims asserted in the Petition, Bly argues that his rights were violated because: (1) unreliable DNA evidence was admitted at trial; (2) Bly was not provided with the complete set of data that supported calculations presented at trial concerning DNA evidence; (3) police officers retrieved a DNA sample from a water bottle that Bly had drunk from and from cigarettes that he had smoked during a police interview; (4) evidence was admitted at trial concerning Bly's refusal to enable the police to take a usable sample of his hair for DNA testing; (5) unreliable identification testimony was admitted at trial; (6) Bly's request to present expert testimony concerning the weakness of the identification testimony was denied; (7) the jury was not provided with an instruction concerning the weakness of “cross-racial” identification; (8) evidence was presented concerning certain prior bad acts committed by Bly; (9) Bly's pretrial request to obtain the medical records of one of the prosecution's witnesses was denied; and (10) the trial court denied Bly's motion to suppress evidence concerning an interview conducted with Bly by the police before Bly was given Miranda warnings.

These ten claims are being considered on their merits. However, none of these claims establishes that any state court decision was contrary to clearly established federal law, represented an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, or was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. Bly's array of claims does not, therefore, support habeas relief.

II. BACKGROUND A. The Crime and the Trial

Just before 7:00 p.m. on September 25, 1995, McLaughlin was shot and killed at the Highland Street commuter rail station in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. McLaughlin was scheduled to begin trying a criminal trial against Bly the following morning. Bly was to be tried for an attempted carjacking perpetrated against Dana Alston. During the previous eight months, McLaughlin had prosecuted two other cases against Bly, both of which had resulted in verdicts of not guilty.

Bly was indicted for McLaughlin's murder on February 19, 1998. He was tried by jury in Suffolk Superior Court in May, 1999. Some of the key pieces of evidence presented at trial were the following.

Four of Bly's acquaintances testified about the events leading up to the night of McLaughlin's death—Eric Hardy, Anthony Houston, Sandra Brown, and Mario Thompson.

Hardy testified that he and Bly belonged to a group of young men who “hung out” in the Theodore Street area. According to Hardy, about one week before Bly's carjacking trial was scheduled to begin, Bly told Hardy that he was concerned about the trial, that he “got to do something,” but that he “can't mess with Dana

[9 F.Supp.3d 146]

[Alston].” Bly then “popped up like ‘I got it,’ ” and took his friend Ricardo Gittens aside for a private conversation. See 6 Trial Tr. 79.

Houston, another member of the Theodore Street group, testified that on September 22, 1995, three days before McLaughlin's death, he went with Bly to downtown Boston. At Boston's South Station, Bly pointed McLaughlin out to Houston and instructed Houston to follow McLaughlin and to “find out where he goes, does he meet up with anybody, where he gets off at, anything in that nature.” Houston followed McLaughlin on to the train, off the train at the Highland Street station, and to McLaughlin's car. Houston attempted to write down McLaughlin's license plate number. He then returned to Theodore Street and shared his findings with Bly. See 6 Trial Tr. 15.

Brown testified that on the afternoon of September 25, 1995, the day of the shooting, she overheard a conversation between Bly and several of his friends. Brown heard Bly state that he “had to get the prosecutor” and that it would “have to be done tonight.” Bly was almost certainly wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black jeans, and black sneakers. See 5 Trial Tr. 86–87.

Thompson testified that on the same afternoon, Bly asked Thompson to follow Bly by car. Bly, who was wearing black jeans, a black sweater, and a black “toboggan” (knit cap), rode in another car along with Gittens. Bly, Gittens, and Thompson drove to a lot across the street from the Highland Street station. Bly then told Thompson that he was not needed and that he could leave. See 5 Trial Tr. 162–63.

Several witnesses who did not know Bly testified about the events at Highland Street Station on September 25, 1995. Particularly significant testimony was provided by Michael Duffy and Maureen Woodsum.

Duffy testified that on that day, his car was parked about thirty yards behind McLaughlin's car. Duffy arrived at the Highland Street station at approximately 6:50 p.m. He saw McLaughlin walking to his car. Duffy then heard two shots. He looked up and saw a person leaning into the driver's side of McLaughlin's car. Duffy described that person as a black male, 14–16 years old, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and baggy jeans. See 6 Trial Tr. 132.

Woodsum testified that she drove by the Highland Street station on her way home at about 6:00 p.m. on the evening of the shooting. She saw a man she did not know standing near the station, wearing dark pants, a dark hooded sweatshirt, and a dark cap. Twenty-seven months later, in February 1998, Woodsum saw the man she had seen that night on a television news broadcast. The man was shown appearing in court next to another man, whom Woodsum had known in high school. Woodsum then learned that the broadcast concerned Bly's indictment for McLaughlin's murder. See 5 Trial Tr. 14–18.

Brown, Hardy, Houston, and Thompson, as well as Brown's mother, gave additional testimony about Bly's actions and words subsequent to McLaughlin's death.

Brown testified that she saw Bly again later the same evening. She noticed that he was soaking his hands in bleach and that he was no longer wearing his black hooded sweatshirt. Brown heard Bly say that “doesn't have any worries” and that he “doesn't have a prosecutor.” See 5 Trial Tr. 88.

Sandra Brown's mother, Janet Brown, testified that she saw Bly at her sister's apartment, where Sandra lived as well, on that same night. Bly told Janet that he

[9 F.Supp.3d 147]

“don't have to worry no more,” that he “took care of [his] problem.” He explained that he had waited in the bushes and had shot McLaughlin two or three times. When Janet asked Bly why he had done so, he responded that he “didn't want to go back to prison” and that McLaughlin “was going to give him a lot of time because he had been up against him before and ... had lost both cases.” See 5 Trial Tr. 205–06.

Hardy, too, testified that Bly told him he had killed McLaughlin. This conversation occurred on the day after the shooting. According to Hardy, Bly said that he had waited for McLaughlin in the bushes near McLaughlin's car, that he had shot McLaughlin twice, and that he had fled to Gittens's waiting car, discarding his blood-spattered sweatshirt and bandana as he ran. Bly explained that McLaughlin was “going to give [Bly] life on a carjacking case,” and that Bly could now “buy [himself] some more time to be out and ... get a different D.A.” Subsequently, Bly asked Hardy to “get rid” of Gittens's car. Bly also threatened to kill Hardy if he “snitch[ed].” See 6 Trial Tr. 82–84.

Houston testified that he saw news reports about the murder and recognized McLaughlin as the man Bly had instructed him to follow. Houston confronted Bly, and Bly told him, “[D]on't say nothing.” Bly instructed Houston to “[s]tay away from Theodore [Street] because it was going to be hot,” and to say, if questioned, that Bly had never asked him to follow McLaughlin. See 6 Trial Tr. 24–25.

Thompson, too, testified that he saw news reports about McLaughlin's death, and that he recognized the crime scene as the area that Bly had led him to that night. Thompson questioned Bly about the murder, and Bly told him to tell anyone who asked that the two men had been together that night. See 5 Trial Tr. 166–68.

Police investigators found a black hooded sweatshirt, a pair of gloves, a green bandana, and a knit cap in the vicinity of the Highland Street station. Additional testimony presented at trial concerned DNA testing performed on genetic material extracted from...

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