Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brooks v. Director of Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

October 20, 2016

James J. Brooks, Petitioner,
v.
Director of the Department of Corrections, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          T. S. ELLIS, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         James J. Brooks, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the constitutionality of his convictions of second degree murder and use of a firearm in die commission of a felony in die Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach. On August 26, 2016, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss and Rule 5 Answer, along with a supporting brief and exhibits. Petitioner was given die opportunity to file responsive materials, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison. 528 F.2d 309 (4tii Cir. 1975) and Local Rule 7K. Petitioner filed a response on September 14, 2016. For the reasons that follow, respondent's Motion to Dismiss must be granted, and die petition must be dismissed, with prejudice.

         I. Background

         The record reflects me following. Petitioner is detained pursuant to a final judgment of the Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach, entered April 9, 2014. Dkt. No.1. Pursuant to a jury trial, petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and use of a firearm in die commission of a felony. Dkt. No. 9-2. Petitioner was sentenced to thirty five years imprisonment. Id.

         Petitioner pursued a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia, where the appeal was denied. Id. .Petitioner then appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia asserting the following assignments of error:

1. The Court of Appeals erred when it upheld the trial court's conviction of [petitioner] because the eyewitness identification of [petitioner] was unreliable, incredible [, ] and inaccurate.
2. The Court of Appeals erred when it upheld the [] trial court's conviction because the evidence was entirely circumstantial and thus no reasonable jury could have found [petitioner] shot Laurie Escobar.
3. The Court of Appeals erred when it upheld the trial court's decision to overrule [petitioner's] Batson motion as the Commonwealth's stated reasons for striking the only African American male from the jury were pretextual and purposefully discriminatory, and the trial court did not engage in meaningful Batson analysis as required by the law.

         Record No. 150498. By Order dated February 8, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia refused petitioner's petition for appeal. Id.

         The facts as laid out by the Court of Appeals are as follows.[1]

[D]uring the early morning hours of August 21, 2012, Laurie Escobar was shot and killed in an apartment in Virginia Beach. Marina Puetz, Puetz's boyfriend, A.J., and Brian Keith Brown were also in the apartment at the time of the murder. [Petitioner] had recently moved out of the residence, and Brown moved into [petitioner's] former bedroom.
[Petitioner] was angry with Escobar because [he] believed she was "a snitch." A week before the shooting, Escobar was arrested and the next day police searched her room and the apartment. [Petitioner] came by asking about the search and what had been said about him to the police. Brown spoke with [petitioner] on the day leading up to the shooting. [Petitioner] asked him if Escobar was at the apartment. Brown responded that he was not at home but would tell [petitioner] if she was there when he returned. Later, Brown sent [petitioner] a message that Escobar was at the apartment and left the door unlocked for him. Within fifteen minutes of sending [petitioner] the text message, Brown heard the front door open and moments later heard the gunshots.
Puetz occupied the bedroom next to Brown's and had been living in the apartment when [petitioner] also lived there with his girlfriend. Escobar was visiting Puetz on the night she was murdered. That night, Brown returned home around midnight and visited with them in Puetz's room before going to his own bedroom. A short time later, a masked man entered the apartment, came to Puetz's room, made eye contact with her, looked around the room, and moved to the bathroom. Puetz heard gunshots. She hid in her room and called the police. Despite the mask, Puetz recognized the shooter as [petitioner]. She recognized his eyes as well as his movements and body language. She also recognized his build, his clothing, and a ring he wore.
John Dufford lived with [petitioner] after [petitioner] moved out of the residence he shared with Puetz and the others. Dufford purchased a distinctive type of gun in March 2012 and gave the gun to [petitioner]. Dufford indicated [petitioner] always carried it with him. On the night of the murder, [petitioner] left his apartment between 10:00 p.m. and midnight and returned between 1:30 and 2:00 in the morning. [Petitioner] appeared anxious upon his return but did not say what was bothering him. When Dufford awoke in the morning, [petitioner] and his girlfriend were "glued" to news accounts of the murder. [Petitioner] refused to answer when Dufford asked if he had committed the murder but called the victim "a snitch" and said she "got what she deserved." [Petitioner] and his girlfriend abruptly packed their things, left the apartment, and never returned.
[Petitioner's] cell phone records indicate his phone was used near the murder scene around the time of the murder. All shell casings found at the scene had been fired by the same gun. The type of gun Dufford had given [petitioner] was the same type of weapon that was fired in the apartment. [Petitioner] remained at large until he was located in Norfolk on September 28, 2012.

Record No. 0764-14-1.

         While pursuing his direct appeal, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach on August 14, 2014. In his state habeas ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.