Sanchez v. Martinez, No. 2:17-cv-0455 DB P

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
PartiesSANTIAGO SANCHEZ, Petitioner, v. JOEL MARTINEZ, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 2:17-cv-0455 DB P
Decision Date16 November 2020

JOEL MARTINEZ, Respondent.

No. 2:17-cv-0455 DB P


November 16, 2020


Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges his convictions imposed by the Sacramento County Superior Court in 2013 for crimes involving sexual misconduct with children. Petitioner alleges: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support count 1; (2) the exclusion of impeachment evidence violated his rights to due process; (3) numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct; (4) admission of evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome violated his due process and other rights; and (5) the cumulative effect of all errors violated due process. For the reasons set forth below, this court will recommend the petition be denied.





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I. Facts Established at Trial

The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District provided the following factual summary:

Defendant was 19 years old and volunteering at an after-school program when he met S.S. Despite the fact defendant was seven or eight years older than S.S., the two became friends. About a month later, defendant met S.S.'s mother, C.C., at the after-school program and was invited over to their house to meet her husband, J.A., with whom defendant shared an interest in automotive repair and body work. At the house, defendant also met the other children in the household, D.C., M.C., and their younger brother, E.C. Over the course of about a year, defendant and J.A. became friends and worked on cars together. Defendant also routinely watched the children when their parents went out.

In August 2011, defendant committed the crimes involved in this case. He was 20 years old. His victims, D.C. and M.C., were eight years old and 10 years old, respectively.

Crimes against M.C.

Defendant stayed the night at the family's house on August 1, 2011. While watching a movie with the children in the living room, defendant touched M.C. twice with his hand on her vaginal area, over her clothes, removing it about "two seconds" after M.C. told him to "stop." The next morning, defendant was asked to watch the children while C.C. went to work and J.A. went to Pick-n-Pull. He agreed. Before J.A. left, M.C. told him defendant was "bothering" her; not understanding the seriousness of the situation, J.A. told her to "just tell him to stop bothering you." That day, the children had various chores to do. Defendant contributed by helping S.S. with the yard work. As defendant watered the front lawn, M.C. passed by him on her way to get a hedge trimmer for S.S. Defendant reached out and briefly touched her chest with the back of his hand. Believing defendant did so "on purpose" because "he was smiling," M.C. told him to "stop." Defendant responded that "he wasn't doing anything wrong." When she again passed by defendant to get a shovel for S.S., defendant again reached out and briefly touched her with the back of his hand, this time on her vaginal area. M.C. again told him to "stop." Defendant again said he "didn't do anything." Defendant confirmed in his statement to police that he touched M.C.'s chest "like one time" and he touched her vaginal area "like twice," always over her clothing.

Based on these facts, as previously mentioned, defendant was convicted of two counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act on M.C., a child under the age of 14 years.


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Crimes against D.C.

After defendant finished watering the lawn, the children asked to play in the swimming pool. Defendant agreed. While he and S.S. finished up the yard work, the other children went inside the house to change into swimming suits. After the children had changed, defendant went into S.S.'s bedroom to change into some shorts. The record is unclear as to whether D.C. was already in the bedroom when defendant came in, or whether she came into the room after defendant had changed. Either way, she began playing with S.S.'s guitar on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds S.S. shared with his younger brother, E.C. Defendant took the guitar away and climbed on top of her. By his own account, he pulled her swimming suit to the side to expose her vagina, and pulled up one of the leg openings of his shorts to allow him to pull out his penis. He then attempted to insert his penis into D.C.'s vagina, but was unsuccessful because his penis was not erect.

Unbeknownst to defendant, S.S. had entered the house looking for D.C. Having seen defendant touch M.C.'s buttocks on two previous occasions, S.S. decided to keep "a closer eye on him." With this purpose in mind, S.S. entered the house quietly through the back door, "snuck around the corner to check the living room," and then "went down the hallway a little." From the hallway, S.S. saw defendant on top of D.C. on the bed. Defendant's "hip area ... was moving up and down." D.C. told defendant to "[s]top." Defendant responded: "Just go with it." S.S. "stood there for about a minute" trying to decide what to do. He considered confronting defendant, but "figured if [he] did that, that [defendant] would leave and would most likely, probably, get away with it." Instead, S.S. left the house "to go call the cops." On his way out, S.S. told M.C. to "stay outside" and that he "would be back." He then got on his bicycle and rode to a neighbor's house. When this neighbor was not home, S.S. rode to a nearby gas station and used a stranger's cell phone to call 911.

Meanwhile, according to defendant's statement to police, he stopped his assault on D.C. shortly after it began and allowed her to go outside to play with her siblings. Defendant also told police he penetrated D.C.'s vagina with one of his fingers while giving her a piggyback ride down the hallway. His statement is unclear as to when exactly this took place, except that it happened before he tried having sex with her and she was already wearing her swimming suit. Regardless of the precise timing, defendant admitted: "I was tryin[g] to put it in there. My finger." He also admitted he succeeded in penetrating D.C.'s vagina with his finger. When asked whether it turned him on, defendant answered: "Uh, yes, a little." When asked whether it probably caused him to then try something more with D.C., defendant responded: "Yeah."

Based on these facts, as previously mentioned, defendant was convicted of one count of sexual penetration, one count of attempted sexual intercourse, and two counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act on D.C., a child under the age of 14 years.


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Police arrived at the house a short time after S.S. made the call to 911. Defendant was taken into custody, advised of his Miranda rights and questioned. He eventually admitted to touching M.C.'s vagina and chest over her clothes, penetrating D.C.'s vagina with his finger while giving her a piggyback ride, and attempting to penetrate her vagina with his penis while on the bed. Defendant also wrote down that he "made a mistake" when he "tr[ied] to put something in [D.C.]," but he "was not thrusting" and stopped when she told him to stop. He also wrote a letter apologizing to the family for his actions.

People v. Sanchez, 246 Cal. App. 4th 167, 170-72 (2016) (footnotes omitted).

II. Procedural Background

A. Judgment and Sentencing

On February 15, 2013, a jury found petitioner guilty of the following:

Count 1 - sexual digital penetration of a child under ten years of age in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 288.7(b);

Counts 2, 4, 5, and 7 - lewd and lascivious act upon a child under the age of fourteen in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 288(a);

Count 3 - attempted sexual intercourse or sodomy of a child under ten years of age in violation of Cal. Penal Code §§ 664/288.7(a); and

Count 6 - battery in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 242.

The jury found true the allegation that appellant committed the above offenses against more than one victim within the meaning of California Penal Code § 667.61(e)(4). (2 RT 1081-82.)

On March 15, 2013, the court found petitioner ineligible for probation and sentenced him to an aggregate indeterminate term of 65 years-to-life in prison. (2 RT 1096-99.)

B. State Appeal and Federal Proceedings

On March 15, 2013, petitioner appealed to the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, case no. C073360.1 (1 CT 484.) In 2016, the Court of Appeal affirmed

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petitioner's convictions, but remanded the matter for resentencing with directions to the superior court to exercise its discretion under rule 4.425 of the California Rules of Court in deciding whether to impose consecutive or concurrent sentences for petitioner's crimes. Sanchez, 246 Cal. App. 4th at 170.

On May 9, 2016, petitioner filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, case no. S234355, which was denied in a summary order on June 29, 2016.2 (LD 6, 7.) On August 24, 2016, on remand, the trial court resentenced appellant to an aggregate indeterminate term of 50 years to life. (RT REMAND 2-5.)

On March 1, 2017, petitioner filed the present petition for writ of habeas corpus with this court. (ECF No. 1.) Respondent filed an answer (ECF No. 15) and petitioner filed a traverse (ECF No. 24).


An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000).

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the following standards for granting federal habeas corpus relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on

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