Washington v. Sherman, Case No.: 15cv2448 MMA (BGS))

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
Decision Date30 September 2019
Docket NumberCase No.: 15cv2448 MMA (BGS))
PartiesCORTEZ LAMON WASHINGTON, Petitioner, v. STUART SHERMAN, Warden, Respondent.

STUART SHERMAN, Warden, Respondent.

Case No.: 15cv2448 MMA (BGS))


September 30, 2019





Petitioner ("Petitioner" or "Washington"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his San Diego Superior Court conviction in case number SCD227126 for assault and battery. (Pet. at 1-2, ECF No. 1 "Pet.")1 The Court has reviewed the Petition, the Answer and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Answer, the lodgments, the Traverse, and all the supporting documents submitted by both parties. For the reasons

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discussed below, the Court the Petition is DENIED.2


A. Prosecution Evidence

On the afternoon and evening of March 22, 2010, Washington and Jennifer Gibson attended a barbecue at Nathan White's home. Lodgment No. 1, Rep.'s Tr. vol. 3 at 445, ECF No. 6-3. Washington and Gibson had been in a romantic relationship for about a year, but the relationship was "a little rocky" at that time. Id. vol. 1 at 91-92, vol. 2 at 162.

Initially at the party were Washington, Gibson, White and Warner Stoner. (Id. vol. 4 at 511.) People were eating, drinking, and smoking marijuana. Id. vol. 1 at 96-97, vol. 2 at 157, 200-02, 212, vol. 3 at 450, vol. 4 at 511-12, 535-36, 538. At some point in the late afternoon, Gibson called Tiffany Knight, whom Gibson had met about a week before, and invited her to come to the barbecue. Id. vol. 3 at 288, 291, 331-32, 339-40. Gibson and Washington left the party to pick up Knight and bring her back to the house. Id. vol. 3 at 291, 341-42. Gibson had been drinking and was too "tipsy" to drive. Id. vol. 1 at 146, vol. 2 at 156. Washington had been drinking as well but was not too intoxicated to drive. Id. vol. 2 at 161-62. On the drive back to White's house, Knight played with Washington's hair and appeared to be flirting with him. Id. vol. 3 at 346-47, 353.

After arriving back at the barbecue, Gibson and Knight sat next to each other on the living room couch and were flirting, touching, and kissing each other. Id. vol. 3 at 293, 295, 347-48, vol. 4 at 513, 536-37. Washington wanted to join in. Id. vol. 3 at 296-97, 349. Over the next couple of hours, everyone except Knight continued drinking.

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Id. vol. 2 at 158-61, 200-02, 212, vol. 3 at 294-95, 345, 350, vol. 4 at 535-36. About an hour and a half after Knight arrived, White left the party and went to his bedroom to go to sleep. Id. vol. 3 at 449, 451, 453.

Later in the evening, Washington and Gibson got into an argument and Washington left the party. Id. at 296-97. Gibson texted Washington, asking him why he left. Id. vol. 4 at 515. Washington responded with several angry text messages to Gibson. The two also spoke on the phone. Id. vol. 2 at 223, 225. Gibson was upset that Washington had left the barbecue. She wanted to know why he left because she did not know what she had done wrong. Id. vol. 4 at 515, 540. It was not unusual for another woman to be involved in her and Washington's relationship. Id. vol. 2 at 172-73.

Washington texted Gibson to meet him at a nearby liquor store, stating "[w]e will finish this." Id. vol. 3 at 372, 442. Another text from Petitioner stated, "Fuck that, Be with that ho. We done." Id. vol. 3 at 437, 442, vol. 4 at 577-78. In a third text, in response to Gibson's message asking if Washington was going to hurt her, he texted, "No, bitch. We here. Let's get it." Id. vol. 3 at 442, vol. 4 at 577-78. Gibson responded, "What?" Washington texted back, "I'm done with you. Go suck pussy." Id. vol. 4 at 577-78. Gibson understood that Petitioner was telling her the relationship was over. Id. vol. 2 at 226. Knight told Gibson not to respond to the messages. Id. vol. 3 at 372. It bothered Knight that Gibson was considering leaving to meet Washington. Id. at 372-73.

Washington eventually returned to the party. He seemed upset. Id. vol. 1 at 106-07. He and Gibson talked outside the house for a couple minutes. They were arguing and raising their voices. Id. vol. 1 at 107, vol. 3 at 299. The two came inside. Gibson entered first then Washington barged in and pushed Gibson against the wall, causing her to fall. Id. vol. 1 at 115, vol. 3 at 299, vol. 4 at 516-17. Stoner grabbed Washington and asked him what he was doing and attempted to diffuse the situation. Id. vol.4 at 516-17, 543-44. Knight went into the kitchen and got a kitchen knife. She told Washington to leave Gibson alone and leave the party. Id. vol. 3 at 300-01, 304, 375-79, 384, 438-384,

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vol. 4 at 520. Washington then approached Knight and attacked her, hitting her in the face, choking her and pushing her. Id. vol. 3 at 302-03, 305, 388, 401, vol. 4 at 522. Knight dropped the knife and went down to the floor. Id. at 302-03, 305, 313, 388, 401. Washington kicked her in the chest and again in the stomach. Id. at 307, 315. Petitioner tore off Knight's wig and called her a "bald-headed bitch." Id. at 303, 315.

At some point Knight broke free and ran into the living room. Washington followed. Id. vol. 1 at 117-18, vol. 2 at 186-87, vol. 3 at 305-06, vol. 4 at 553. He slammed her into a table, pushed her against the wall, and choked her. Id. vol. 3 at 305-07, 316-17, 407-09. Washington then pushed Knight up against the wall and slammed her into the television. Id. at 306. Gibson and Stoner tried to pull Washington off Knight and restrain him, with little success. Id. vol. 1 at 119-20, vol. 4 at 524. Washington then hit Knight in the face. Id. vol. 4 at 526. While Washington was shoving Gibson and Stoner, Knight was on the floor, bloody and shaking and holding her arms up to protect her face and head. Id. vol. 1 at 119-20, vol. 2 at 186-87, 188-190, vol. 3 at 317, vol. 4 at 524-27, 554.

White, who had previously gone to bed, woke up from the sound of breaking glass and the fight. Id. vol. 1 at 121, vol. 3 at 453. White joined Stoner and Gibson in trying to restrain Petitioner. Id. vol. 1 at 121, vol. 2 at 183, 192-93, vol. 3 at 453-55, vol. 4 at 484-85, 506, 528. Knight was able to break free. She and Gibson ran into the bedroom and shut the door. Id. vol. 3 at 306, 317, 478-79.

White told Washington to leave the house. Id. at 319, 453. But Washington wrestled away from Stoner and White, elbowing Stoner in the face and throwing White into a wall. Id. at 456, vol. 4 at 495, 497-98, 506-07. Washington yelled, "Fuck that bitch!" Id. vol. 4 at 497, 506-07. As Gibson was trying to hold the bedroom door closed, Washington kicked it open. Id. vol. 1 at 129-30, vol. 2 at 193-94, vol. 3 at 319, 456-57, vol. 4 at 504, 528-29, 557. Washington entered the bedroom where Gibson and Knight were hiding. Id. vol. 3 at 319, 456. He jumped over the bed and started punching Knight, who was in the small space between one side of the bed and the wall. Id. vol. 3

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at 457-59, vol. 4 at 528-30. He punched Knight hard, with a closed fist, while White and Stoner tried to stop him, and Knight tried to get away. Washington hit Knight in the left eye, causing her to collapse. Id. vol. 3 at 320-21, 418-19. Petitioner continued to attack Knight, punching and kicking her as she tried to move away from him by sliding on the floor. Id. at 321-22, 398-99, 420-21, 459. Knight lost consciousness. Id. at 312, 321, 324, 398, 422.

A friend of Washington's, named Tim, came into the bedroom and pulled Washington away from Knight and out of the house. Id. vol. 1 at 133-34, vol. 2 at 197, vol. 4 at 530. Washington fled the scene. Id. White called 911.4 Id. vol. 3 at 462. Knight regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital. Id. vol. 3 at 321, 462. As a result of Washington's attack, Knight suffered significant swelling to the left side of her face, including a black eye, scratches on her neck and face, and a cut to her upper lip which required five stitches. Id. at vol. 3 at 328-29, 465, vol. 3 at 531. When interviewed by law enforcement at the hospital, Knight appeared afraid that Washington would come back and kill her. Id. at vol. 3 at 278.

At some point after Washington left the party, Gibson sent him a text message with a photograph of Knight, taken after the incident and stating, "See what you did? We called police." Id. vol. 2 at 230, vol. 4 at 578. Petitioner responded via text: "So fuck that. We're not done yet." Id. vol. 2 at 230-31, vol. 4 at 578. Following the incident, there was blood in almost every room of the house, on the floors, and on the walls. Id. vol. 2 at 247-78, vol. 3 at 270. Most of the blood was in the bedroom, on the wall farthest from the door. Id. vol. 3 at 270-71. The police did not collect samples of the blood to determine whose it was. Id. vol. 3 at 271-72. A knife in the kitchen was photographed but not collected as evidence. Id. vol. 2 at 250, vol. 3 at 272-73.

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B. Defense Evidence

Washington testified in his own defense. He stated everyone had been drinking that evening. Gibson and Knight and he began kissing each other, and the women started dancing together. Id. vol. 5 at 612-13. At some point, Washington realized Gibson had too much to drink and he asked her if she was ready to leave the party. Gibson refused. Id. at 615-16. Washington left to get cigarettes at a nearby liquor store. While he was gone, Gibson texted him asking why he left the party. The two exchanged texts. It was not an angry conversation. Id. at 617-18. Washington eventually returned to the party to pick up Gibson. Id. at 620.

Washington and Gibson were about to leave the party when Stoner and Knight asked Gibson to stay. Id. at 624. Washington denied pushing Gibson. Id. at 626. He testified that Gibson took a step toward the wall because she could not decide whether to leave the party. Id. He and Gibson got into a heated discussion about whether...

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