Jernigan v. Edward

Decision Date07 November 2017
Docket NumberCase No.: 15cv2793 BTM (RBB)
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of California
PartiesMARC EXTER JERNIGAN, Petitioner, v. MERRIAN EDWARD, Respondent.


Petitioner Marc Exter Jernigan, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the "Petition") challenging his conviction in San Diego Superior Court case no. SCD258695 for murder. (ECF No. 1.)1 Jernigan raises numerous claims in the 1479-page Petition he filed in this Court.

The Court has read and considered the Petition, the Answer and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Answer ("Answer") [ECF No. 19], the Reply to the Respondent's Answer [ECF No. 26], the lodgments and other documents filed in this case, and the legal arguments presented by both parties. For the reasons discussed below, the Court RECOMMENDS that the Petition [ECF No. 1] be DENIED. The Court DENIES his request for an evidentiary hearing and for discovery [ECF Nos. 28, 30].


The victim in this case is June George. In 1984, June lived in La Mesa with her daughter, Kathy, and Kathy's stepfather, Fred George. (Lodgment No. 7, People v. Jernigan, D060746, slip op. at 3 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 18, 2013).) Kathy began dating Petitioner while the two attended Helix High School. Within three months, the relationship became intense and they began a sexual relationship. (Id.) She and Jernigan talked about living together and getting married, and they opened a joint checking account. (Id. at 3-4.) Kathy was the only one working and depositing money into the account, however, and over time this became an issue in their relationship. (Id. at 4.) Jernigan also became controlling and possessive. (Id.) Kathy talked to her mother, June, about the problems in the relationship, and June told Kathy that she should break up with Petitioner. (Id.) Kathy told Jernigan about June's advice. (Id.)

About two weeks before June's murder, Kathy broke up with Petitioner and closed their joint checking account. (Id. at 4-5.) Before doing so, she told Jernigan that June was going to receive $1,500, which she did not plan on sharing with her husband Fred, but she did not tell him where June was going to store the money. (Id. at 4.) Petitioner was upset about the closing of the account and the breakup. (Id. at 5.)

On August 8, 1986, the day of the murder, Kathy arrived home at about 5:20 p.m. to find several relatives standing outside her home waiting for June. (Id.) June had planned to host a family reunion at her home that evening. (Id.) Kathy went into the house and found her mother's body on the floor of the kitchen. (Id.) June had been stabbed nearly eighty times and there were signs of a struggle. (Id.) Her purse was foundon the bedroom floor and its contents had been dumped out. (Id. at 6.) During June's autopsy, the tip of a knife was found imbedded in her skull. (Id. at 5.) Police later determined that a chef's knife with a broken tip, found in a kitchen drawer, was the murder weapon. (Id.) Police seized a blood-stained towel; a blood-stained bedspread; a purse and its contents, including a wallet and an eyeglass case; and a blood-stained tissue in the bathroom. (Id.) They also found a pink stain on the bathroom counter. (Id.)

Jernigan was interviewed the night of the murder. (Id.) He told police he did not know of anyone who would want to kill June and that he did not have any ill feelings toward June, Kathy, or their family. (Id.) Police took Petitioner's fingerprints, and although La Mesa Police Officer Quinn testified at trial that he saw scratches on Petitioner's arms, he did not record that in his contemporaneous police report. (Id.)

In 1994, approximately eight years later, police interviewed Jernigan again. He told officers that on the day of the murder, he had planned to return a music tape to a friend who lived near Kathy and then stop by Kathy's house, but when he arrived, he saw the police tape and returned home. (Id. at 7.) Police had previously determined that the murder occurred sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. (Id. at 5.) Jernigan told police he was at the scene after 5:30 p.m., and when he got home, his mother told him the police wanted to talk to him, so he returned to the scene. (Id. at 7.)

During the 1994 interview, Jernigan also told police that in 1986, Detective Burke interviewed him the day after the murder. (Id.) Jernigan told Burke he was doing laundry the afternoon of the murder and that there was another man from his apartment complex in the laundry room as well. (Id. at 7-8.) Petitioner told police that in 1994 Burke did not appear to be interested in locating the other man. (Id. at 8.)

In an attempt to solve this case, Detective Brown, of the Metropolitan Task Force, sent evidence samples to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for DNA testing. (Id.) Criminalist Colleen Spurgeon found the bedspread stains contained at least two individuals' DNA, and the major contributor to those stains matched Jernigan's DNA profile. (Id. at 9.) Spurgeon also found a Y chromosome present in one of the samplesfrom the bathroom stain, indicating DNA from at least one male was present. (Lodgment No. 3, Rep.'s Tr. vol. 35, 7168-69, July 21, 2011.) After receiving the test results, Brown interviewed Jernigan again. (Lodgment No. 7, People v. Jernigan, D060746, slip op. at 8.) He asked Jernigan whether there was any chance his blood would be found on June's wallet, bedspread, or in her bedroom, and Jernigan said "no." (Id.) Jernigan told Brown his fingerprints would probably be found all over June's house, however, because he had been in the home many times while he and Kathy were dating. (Id.) He also told Brown he and Kathy had sex in Kathy's room, the living room, and the den, but not in June's bedroom. (Id.)

In late 2003 and early 2004, criminalist Connie Milton, from the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, performed more DNA testing on evidence from June George's murder. (Lodgment No. 3, Rep.'s Tr. vol. 39, 7720, 7724, July 28, 2011.) She tested a receipt, two business cards, a checkbook, and a red leather purse belonging to June. (Id. at 7728-29.) The only DNA results she obtained were from a stain on the purse which tested positive for the presence of blood. (Id. at 7730-31.) Milton obtained a partial DNA profile but could not identify anyone with it. (Id. at 7731.) Jernigan was excluded as the source, however. (Id. at 7815.)

Milton tested more items in late 2005 and 2006. (Id. at 7734.) The bathroom stain tested positive for the presence of human blood, but Milton did not do any further testing on it. (Id. at 7739.) Instead, because a Y chromosome was present, she recommended the stain be retested using Y-STR DNA testing to obtain further results. (Id. at 7739-40.) One bedspread stain had a mixture of DNA with a major contributor and low-level minor contributor. Jernigan was identified as the major contributor with a frequency of occurrence of one in 290 sextillion of the African-American population.2 (Id. at 7741-43.) Milton also found DNA on a stain from the eyeglass case. There was no mixture present, but Milton was able to obtain a low level partial DNA profile from the stainwhich matched Jernigan at four allele locations. (Id. at 7743-44.) The estimated frequency of occurrence for three of those alleles was one in 130,000; the calculation of frequency was based on the fact that Jernigan has a rare allele at a particular locus, which was found on the eyeglass case. (Id. at 7765-67.)

Milton also tested nine stains from the towel found in the bathroom. (Id. at 7751.) She was able to identify only June's DNA in stains B, E, G, H, I, and F. (Id. at 7753-61.) Stains A and D, however, were a mixture of at least two people, with the major contributor matching Jernigan's DNA. The frequency of the match for stain A was one in 290 sextillion African-Americans and for stain D was one in 280 trillion African-Americans. (Id. at 7762-63, 7765.) Stain C was a single source of Petitioner's DNA with a frequency of one in 6.5 sextillion African-Americans. (Id. at 7763, 7765.)

In 2007, Milton performed a third round of DNA testing on items of evidence. On a plastic photo holder from June's wallet, Milton found a rare allele consistent with Jernigan's DNA profile. (Id. at 7767-69.) She tested a second stain on the bedspread and found a mixture of DNA from at least two people. (Id. at 7770.) The major contributor was Petitioner, at a frequency of one in 340 sextillion of the African-American population. (Id.) She also tested two stains on June's wallet; both contained a single source of DNA which matched Jernigan. The frequency for stain A was one in 340 sextillion for the African-American population, and for stain B, it was one in 7.8 sextillion. (Id. at 7774-76.) Also in 2007, Amy Rogala, of the San Diego Police's Crime Laboratory, performed DNA testing on evidence in Jernigan's case. In particular, she performed Y-STR DNA testing on the bathroom stain Milton had previously tested and recommended for Y-STR testing. Rogala found June's DNA but also found a low level DNA profile from which June's husband and stepson were excluded but from which Petitioner was not. (Lodgment No. 7, People v. Jernigan, No. D060746, slip op. at 9.)

The final round of DNA testing was completed in 2009. (Lodgment No. 3, Rep.'s Tr. vol. 40, 8047, Aug. 1, 2011) Byron Sonnenberg, a criminalist at the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, tested five new areas on the towel found in June's bathroom.(Id. at 8047.) During the first round of testing, stains one, two, and four contained a single source of DNA that matched June's profile. (Id. at 8048.) Stains three and five, however, contained a...

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