Licausi v. Griffin

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Citation460 F.Supp.3d 242
Docket NumberCV 17-2459 (GRB)
Parties John LICAUSI, Petitioner, v. Thomas GRIFFIN, Superintendent of the Green Haven Correctional Facility, Respondent.
Decision Date19 May 2020

460 F.Supp.3d 242

John LICAUSI, Petitioner,
Thomas GRIFFIN, Superintendent of the Green Haven Correctional Facility, Respondent.

CV 17-2459 (GRB)

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

Signed May 19, 2020

460 F.Supp.3d 250

John Licausi, Napanoch, NY, pro se.

Marion M. Tang, District Attorneys Office, Riverhead, NY, for Respondent.


GARY R. BROWN, United States District Judge:

Pro se petitioner John Licausi was convicted after trial in the County Court of Suffolk County of several offenses arising out of a vehicular homicide. Initially sentenced to twenty-five years to life by the trial court, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, later reduced the sentence on appeal, as an exercise of discretion, to an indeterminate sentence of incarceration for eighteen years to life. Petitioner now seeks a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Writ, Docket Entry ("DE") 1. For the reasons set forth herein, the petition is DENIED.


The following facts, drawn from the state court trial record, are summarized "in the light most favorable to the verdict." Garbutt v. Conway , 668 F.3d 79, 80 (2d Cir. 2012).

On May 7, 2008, at around 4:48 pm, petitioner checked into the Econo Lodge motel in Ronkonkoma, New York. Trial Tr. 1061, 1070, 1090.1 By petitioner's own admission, he had used one gram of cocaine that evening between 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Id. at 1090, 1113. The next day, petitioner checked out of the motel at 10:19 am. Id. at 1062.

On May 8, 2008, at approximately 11:30 am near the intersection of Granny Road and Mount McKinley Avenue in Farmingville, New York, petitioner, who was in a "green four by four" vehicle, approached Keith Corr, a landscaper, in an effort to sell Corr landscaping equipment. Trial Tr. 91. Corr, who suspected petitioner "to be the person who had stolen equipment from

460 F.Supp.3d 251

[him] two days prior," told petitioner that he had to call his wife to obtain cash to buy the equipment. Id. at 92. Instead, Corr called 911. Id.

At around 11:45 am, Police Officer Michael Bogliole of the Sixth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department responded to the radio call. Id. at 358. Before responding to the scene, Officer Bogliole had learned of the license plate of petitioner's vehicle, conducted a computer check, and found that petitioner had an active warrant for petit larceny. Id. at 72, 360. Officer Bogliole arrived on scene at approximately 11:50 am. Id. at 94, 361.

Petitioner was waiting inside his vehicle, and Corr identified petitioner to Officer Bogliole. Id. at 94, 361. Officer Bogliole approached petitioner, asked him to step out of his vehicle, and produce his driver's license. Id. at 94, 362. Officer Bogliole noticed that petitioner's eyes were glassy and he was "shaking." Id. at 363. Officer Bogliole asked petitioner to stand in front of the police vehicle while the officer took steps to verify that the petit larceny warrant was active. Id. at 364.

Corr and petitioner began arguing. Id. at 364-65. According to Officer Bogliole, petitioner "look[ed] like he was going to flee," prompting Officer Bogliole to repeatedly direct petitioner to "stop" and "don't move." Id. at 365, 367. Disregarding the officer's directive, petitioner ran towards his vehicle. Id. at 94, 367-68. The officer attempted to intervene, and the officer and petitioner physically struggled near the driver seat of petitioner's vehicle. Id. at 94, 360-376. Petitioner managed to break free and fled by car. Id. at 94, 370, 376. Officer Bogliole entered his patrol vehicle, activated emergency lights, and pursued the petitioner. Id. at 375.

By Officer Bogliole's account, petitioner drove erratically as "he took off with his door open," and at one point, with "[t]he speed that he was going, the vehicle actually started coming up on the left side." Id. at 376-77, 381. Officer Bogliole saw petitioner drive through four stop signs and a steady red light, cross the double yellow line, travel southbound on the northbound lane, and overtake other cars on the road. Id. at 377-85.

Petitioner, who took the stand in his own defense, admitted at trial that he had "disobeyed a police officer's direct order" when he drove away. Id. at 1141. Although his account of the route taken differed from that of the officer, petitioner admitted that he was speeding. Id. at 1147, 1151. He testified that he did not completely stop near one stop sign, ran through two stop signs, but denied that he drove through the steady red light. Id. at 1146-51. He also testified that he crossed the double yellow line and drove southbound in the northbound lane. Id. at 1171.

Before noon on May 8, 2008, Maria Grosso, a local resident, saw from her house, "a vehicle speeding down the road" that did not stop at a stop sign on Old Medford Avenue, being pursued by a police vehicle at a distance of "four houses". Trial Tr. 154, 164. Around that time, Theodore Petersen, a United Parcel Service driver, saw a vehicle pass him on the northbound lane on Old Medford Avenue, and a police car in pursuit. Id. at 172.

When petitioner's vehicle reached the intersection of Old Medford Avenue and Horseblock Road, "[petitioner's] vehicle went through the red light, [and] struck a gray vehicle." Trial Tr. 386; see also id. at 275, 1178. Officer Bogliole described an "explosion," with "car parts, debris, a cloud, and then this whole mass actually looked like it went up in the air and then right into the woods." Id. at 386. An eyewitness testified he saw "[a]n explosion of material ... just going straight up out in a fan pattern, some of the debris traveling

460 F.Supp.3d 252

higher than the traffic light was." Id. at 245.

A collision reconstruction expert testified that petitioner's vehicle was traveling at a minimum of 57 miles per hour at the time of collision. Id. at 884. Crime scene analysis demonstrated "there was no braking involved prior to the collision of the vehicles" based upon the lack of tire marks preceding the point of impact. Id. at 626. One eyewitness saw petitioner's vehicle appear to accelerate when entering the intersection. Id. at 281. Petitioner testified, on the other hand, that he "braked," and "skidded through the intersection." Id. at 1191-92.

Petitioner's vehicle was traveling southbound along Old Medford Avenue, and the gray vehicle was traveling westbound on Horseblock Road. Id. at 883. After the collision, both petitioner's vehicle and the gray vehicle traveled together in a "southeasterly direction," striking other vehicles. Id. at 245-46, 270-71, 299, 883-84.

At 11:56 am, Officer Bogliole approached the petitioner, who had exited his vehicle, and arrested him. Trial Tr. 248, 300, 319, 465, 525. Other officers arrived on scene and ultimately transported the petitioner to the Sixth Precinct. Id. at 388, 593-94, 604. Several witnesses testified that petitioner did not complain of any pain or request medical attention at the time of arrest. Id. at 593-94, 606.

Scott Foster, a salesman at Home Depot, who was married with three children, had been driving the gray vehicle. Trial Tr. 207-11, 469-71. Officer Bogliole approached Mr. Foster's vehicle, and saw Foster's body "hanging out of the vehicle." Id. at 389. Officer Bogliole was unable to detect Mr. Foster's pulse or signs of breathing, and began administering first aid. Id. Other police officers and the ambulance arrived to assist Mr. Foster. Id. at 969. Mr. Foster was transported to Brookhaven Hospital where he declared dead at 12:45 pm. Id. at 970-72. Doctor Odette Hall from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Mr. Foster had died from "blunt impact injuries of his head and his torso." Id. at 979.

At the Sixth Precinct, Police Officer Robert Copozzi from Highway Patrol administered tests to petitioner "to identify signs and symptoms associated with someone who has taken certain classes of drugs." Id. at 716. Officer Copozzi found, inter alia , that petitioner exhibited slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, swaying while standing up, and an inability to maintain balance on one leg. Id. at 686-700. Officer Copozzi also interviewed the petitioner. Petitioner stated that his "chest was sore," but did not ask to go to the hospital. Id. at 695-96. Petitioner further stated that he used about a gram of cocaine "two days ago" at a motel, and that "[h]e relapsed and went on this binge." Id. at 700-01. Officer Copozzi concluded that at the time of the crash, petitioner was "impaired and not able to operate a motor vehicle safely, and he was impaired by a [Central Nervous System] stimulant." Id. at 702, 793. Officer Copozzi came to this conclusion independent of any blood test results. Id. at 793.

When Officer Bogliole spoke with the petitioner, petitioner declined to consent to a blood test or make a statement.2 Id. at 403, 425, 540. Officer Bogliole advised the case detective that petitioner did not consent

460 F.Supp.3d 253

to a blood test. Id. at 1065. At approximately 4:00 pm, the case detective obtained a court warrant to obtain a sample of petitioner's blood. Id. at 404, 1063. At 5:16 pm, a physician assistant...

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