Coronado v. Lefevre, No. 87 Civ. 2539 (RJW).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Citation748 F. Supp. 131
Decision Date01 October 1990
PartiesRolando CORONADO, Petitioner, v. Eugene S. LEFEVRE, Superintendent, Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, New York and Robert Abrams, Attorney General of the State of New York, Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. 87 Civ. 2539 (RJW).

748 F. Supp. 131

Rolando CORONADO, Petitioner,
v.
Eugene S. LEFEVRE, Superintendent, Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, New York and Robert Abrams, Attorney General of the State of New York, Respondents.

No. 87 Civ. 2539 (RJW).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

October 1, 1990.


748 F. Supp. 132
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
748 F. Supp. 133
Rolando Coronado, pro se

Robert T. Johnson, Dist. Atty. of Bronx County, Bronx, N.Y. (Allen H. Saperstein, of counsel), for respondents.

OPINION

ROBERT J. WARD, District Judge.

Rolando Coronado petitions this Court pro se for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. By order dated April 16, 1987, the petition was referred to the Honorable Joel J. Tyler, United States Magistrate, to hear and report pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Rule 4 of the Local Rules for Proceedings Before Magistrates. On September 7, 1989, Magistrate Tyler filed a Report and Recommendation (the "Report") in which he recommended that the writ be denied and the petition dismissed. Petitioner filed timely objections to the Report on May 17, 1990.1 Having reviewed the Report and considered de novo those portions to which petitioner has objected, the Court hereby adopts the magistrate's recommendations, denies petitioner's writ of habeas corpus, and dismisses the petition.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner was convicted, on January 18, 1985, after a two-week bench trial in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Bronx County, of Murder in the Second Degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law, §§ 125.25(1) and 265.01) in connection with the death of Sonia Gutierrez ("Gutierrez"), a 13-year old student at Junior High School 52 ("JHS 52") in Manhattan. Gutierrez was found murdered on April 16, 1983, on Boone Avenue in the Bronx. Wrapped around her body was a metallic gold-colored belt.

The evidence implicating petitioner in the murder of Gutierrez originated in part from an assault on Roberto Perez ("Perez") on May 21, 1983. According to Perez, a 17-year old student attending JHS 52, on that night petitioner approached him from behind, put a knife to his back and demanded his wallet. Although Perez offered his wallet to petitioner, Perez testified that petitioner refused to take it. Petitioner instead placed a blindfold on Perez's face, and forced him to walk for "hours" through the streets of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Before leading Perez into Riverside Park ("the park"), petitioner kicked and hit Perez in an alley, and told him that it was "just a shame that its got to happen again."

Later, while in the park, petitioner asked Perez what school he attended. Perez stated that he went to JHS 52. Petitioner, who had graduated from JHS 52 in 1979, asked Perez if he knew a boy named Danny. Perez told him that he did. Petitioner and Perez then had a conversation regarding Danny, whereupon petitioner inquired whether "anything interesting had happened in the school recently?" Perez responded that a girl had been killed. According

748 F. Supp. 134
to Perez, petitioner then stated: "I want you to know I killed her and if you don't shut up, I'm going to have to kill you too."

Sometime after this conversation, Perez tried to escape. Petitioner grabbed him, stabbed him in the back several times, and left him for dead in the park, discarding the knife in nearby bushes. Perez regained consciousness at Mt. Sinai Hospital ("Mt. Sinai") the following day. There he was examined by a psychiatrist who concluded that Perez was suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations and recommended that he be subjected to further psychiatric evaluation.2

Also on May 22, the day after the stabbing, petitioner went to the 20th Precinct to confess to the murder of Perez, believing that he had killed him the night before in the park. The police attempted to confirm the story. However, since no murder had been reported in the park, petitioner was released.

After Perez spoke with the police and confirmed an attack in the park, petitioner was arrested by Detectives Robert Subach ("Subach") and Carlos Rivera ("Rivera") and taken into custody.

At the police station, Subach and Rivera brought petitioner to an interrogation room. Petitioner was read his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), whereupon he told Subach and Rivera that he understood his rights and that he wished to speak to them. Subach and Rivera told petitioner that he was being arrested for the stabbing of Perez and that he was under investigation for the murder of Gutierrez. The interrogation lasted approximately nine hours, from 3:00 or 3:30 P.M. on May 31, 1983, to 1:00 or 1:30 A.M. on June 1, 1983, and ended with a videotaped statement by petitioner in the presence of Assistant District Attorneys from both New York and Bronx Counties.

During the interrogation, petitioner made several statements. He confessed to the Perez stabbing, and also to two murders, which police could not confirm. He repeatedly told the detectives that he liked to watch people suffer and enjoyed terrifying others. He stated that he used drugs on a daily basis.3 Although petitioner continually denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, the murder of Gutierrez, he asked the detectives "how he could drive and hold her Gutierrez at the same time," even though the detectives did not tell petitioner that Gutierrez's body had been transported by car to the Bronx. Additionally, when petitioner saw a picture of the deceased he stated, "good-bye Sonia, I guess its all over."4 Petitioner also suggested that he did not mind telling the police about Perez since they already knew about him, but that they would have to "figure out" what happened to Gutierrez, since they knew nothing about her.

Petitioner pled guilty to charges relating to the assault on Perez, and was sentenced to a term of 8 to 16 years. He was later indicted by a Bronx grand jury for Murder in the Second Degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (one count was later dropped), in relation to the Gutierrez murder.

Prior to trial for the Gutierrez murder, a suppression hearing was held before the trial judge, the Honorable Elbert Hinkson. The prosecution sought the admission of all of petitioner's statements to the detectives,

748 F. Supp. 135
a videotape of the crime scene showing the body of Gutierrez, and the identification of petitioner by Perez and all of petitioner's statements to Perez. Petitioner moved for suppression of the statements he made to the detectives on the ground that they were not made voluntarily; of Perez's testimony and identification on the grounds that Perez was mentally unstable5 and the identification procedure unduly suggestive; and the videotape of the crime scene due to its highly prejudicial nature and low probative value

The detectives testified at the hearing that petitioner was always responsive to their questions during the interrogation session, and that he was generally calm. However, they also stated that petitioner seemed to have "severe psychiatric problems," that he seemed to be "missing a few parts" and that he was "crazy as a bed-bug." They stated that there were breaks during the interrogation while petitioner ate dinner, used the bathroom, and watched some television.

Judge Hinkson's ruling on these issues included findings of fact and conclusions of law. He suppressed much of the evidence that was proffered by the prosecution during the course of the hearing,6 primarily on the ground that its probative value was outweighed by the extreme prejudice that it would cause to the defendant. With respect to the statements made by petitioner to the detectives, the judge found that "the record clearly established that the defendant was fully aware of the statements he was making to the detectives;" that "he responded to questions in a clear and rational manner," and that "there is no definitive indication of mental disease attributable to the defendant." Judge Hinkson determined that although petitioner was interrogated for nine hours, he was not questioned continuously, for he was fed, went to the bathroom, and watched television for a period of time.

Regarding Perez, the Judge found that he had been hospitalized for physical, and not mental reasons, and that although Perez had hallucinations and his recitation of events were "bizarre," this was "clearly understandable considering the traumatic ordeal he had just experienced." The judge concluded that Perez's "recounting of the ordeal ... was at a minimum substantially factual."

After Judge Hinkson announced his decision, petitioner asked that his attorney be relieved since he was urging petitioner to plead guilty on all counts. The Court reserved decision, but later denied the application. Petitioner then requested a non-jury trial, over the vociferous objections of his counsel. The Court again reserved decision, and told petitioner to "discuss the matter very thoroughly with his attorney and give it a great deal of thought overnight." The following day, Judge Hinkson warned petitioner of the risks of a non-jury trial. He explained to petitioner the possible prejudice that could occur against him. However, petitioner insisted on waiving his right to a jury trial.

Petitioner's attorney then requested that a competency hearing be held to determine petitioner's mental state.7 The hearing was held before Judge Hinkson on January 3 and 4, 1985. At the hearing, the prosecution called as witnesses two psychiatrists who had examined petitioner several weeks earlier to evaluate his competency to stand trial. Both testified that it was their opinion that petitioner was competent to stand trial, since he had the ability to assist in his defense and to understand the charges against him. Petitioner did not present any evidence as to his competency at the hearing.

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13 practice notes
  • United States v. Gomez, 15 Cr. 348 (PGG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 29, 2016
    ..."Coercive police activity is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary." Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). " ‘The question of waiver mu......
  • U.S. v. James, No. 02 CR 778(SJ).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 4, 2006
    ...the question of voluntariness. Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986); see also Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 138-39 In assessing the validity of a waiver, courts examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation. Fare v. Mic......
  • United States v. Medina, No. S3 13 Cr. 272 (PGG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 8, 2014
    ...activity [therefore] is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary.” Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986)). A waiver of Miranda rights is “kno......
  • United States v. Medina, No. S3 13 Cr. 272 PGG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 7, 2014
    ...activity [therefore] is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary.” Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). A waiver of Miranda rights is “kn......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • United States v. Gomez, 15 Cr. 348 (PGG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 29, 2016
    ..."Coercive police activity is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary." Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). " ‘The question of waiver mu......
  • U.S. v. James, No. 02 CR 778(SJ).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 4, 2006
    ...the question of voluntariness. Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986); see also Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 138-39 In assessing the validity of a waiver, courts examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation. Fare v. Mic......
  • United States v. Medina, No. S3 13 Cr. 272 (PGG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 8, 2014
    ...activity [therefore] is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary.” Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986)). A waiver of Miranda rights is “kno......
  • United States v. Medina, No. S3 13 Cr. 272 PGG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 7, 2014
    ...activity [therefore] is ‘a necessary predicate’ to finding that a waiver of Miranda rights was not voluntary.” Coronado v. Lefevre, 748 F.Supp. 131, 139 (S.D.N.Y.1990) (quoting Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). A waiver of Miranda rights is “kn......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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