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.

Ross v. Fleming

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

March 10, 2017

JERAD MICHAEL ROSS, Petitioner,
v.
LESLIE J. FLEMING, WARDEN, WALLENS RIDE STATE PRISON, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Jerad M. Ross, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the validity of his state confinement, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, due process violations, and various trial defects. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss Ross's § 2254 petition, and Ross responded, making the matter ripe for disposition. After review of the record, I will grant the motion to dismiss because all but one of claims are procedurally barred, and the remaining claim lacks merit.

         I. Factual & Procedural Background

         Ross was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, and use of a firearm in the commission of an aggravated malicious wounding. He now challenges his convictions in federal court. The facts and procedural history pertinent to Ross's convictions are as follows.

         On May 24, 2012, Precious Smith, Traon Jordan, and Ross traveled to a motel in Augusta County. A man named Melvin Jordan owed Smith and Ross money, and was at the motel, so Traon Jordan dropped Smith and Ross at the front of the motel, where Ross began to argue with Melvin Jordan. After a brief but violent confrontation, Ross shot Melvin Jordan.[1]

         Several eyewitnesses testified at Ross's trial. Stacie Swearingen worked across the street from the motel, and she observed two men outside the motel and then heard several gunshots. She witnessed one of the men shoot the other man in the back. The shooter walked away and then was joined by a woman. Swearingen was unable to identify the shooter. James Newman also worked across the street and saw a man with dreadlocks shoot another man five times. He also testified that he saw the shooter walk away from the scene with a woman. Debbie Sprouse was walking her dog near the motel and also witnessed a man with dreadlocks shoot another man five times. She identified Ross in a photo lineup as the shooter; however, she was unable to identify Ross at trial.

         Responding to the gunshots, police arrived at the scene and searched for a gunman based on the witnesses' descriptions. Soon after, officers tracked Ross to a wooded area near the motel and apprehended him. Ross's hands tested positive for gunpowder residue, but Ross denied any involvement in the shooting of Melvin Jordan. Instead, he claimed that he was a “nature dude” that had been to a shooting range earlier in the day. While incarcerated, Ross called Smith and threatened both Smith and Traon Jordan regarding their potential testimony against him.

         Melvin Jordan was rushed to the hospital and underwent several surgeries and physical therapy; however, the shooting damaged the veins and arteries in his legs, and he was unable to walk unassisted and spent much of his time in bed. On November 27, 2012, he was found dead in his motel room. Dr. Amy Tharpe, a forensic pathologist, opined that Melvin Jordan died of a pulmonary embolism as a result of complications from the gunshot wounds he sustained on May 24, 2012. Dr. Tharpe believed that the probable cause of the clot was the gunshot wounds that Melvin Jordan had received to his legs, which led to an embolism that traveled to his lungs and ultimately killed him. Dr. Tharpe concluded that, but for the gunshot wounds, Melvin Jordan would not have had the blood clots; therefore, Melvin Jordan died as a direct result of the gunshot wounds received from Ross.

         The jury convicted Ross of first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, and use of a firearm in the commission of an aggravated malicious wounding; the trial court sentenced Ross to fifty-eight years in prison.

         Ross appealed his convictions to the Court of Appeals of Virginia, which denied his appeal on April 10, 2014. On October 30, 2014, a three-judge panel denied his petition for rehearing. Ross appealed again, but on May 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of Virginia denied review. Ross never filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in any state court.

         Ross filed the current federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on May 12, 2016, asserting twenty-three claims:

1-3. Ross was denied a fair trial by an impartial jury, in that three jurors sat who should have been struck for cause.
4-6. Counsel was ineffective for failing to strike three prospective jurors.
7. Counsel was ineffective for failing to voir dire a prospective juror regarding her knowledge of the case from local media reports.
8. Ross's right to confront witnesses was violated by the introduction of text messages from Ross's ...

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.