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Melton v. Clarke

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

October 11, 2017

DENNY C. MELTON, Petitioner,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge

         Denny C. Melton, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, [1] challenging the validity of his confinement on a judgment by the Halifax County Circuit Court. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss Melton's § 2254 petition, and Melton failed to respond, making the matter ripe for disposition. After review of the record, the court concludes that Melton's petition is time-barred and successive, requiring the motion to dismiss to be granted.

         I. Background

         On June 11, 1999, a jury convicted Melton of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of murder. The Halifax County Circuit Court sentenced Melton to 102 years in prison.

         By counsel, Melton appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals, but the court dismissed his petitions on February 3, 2000 and April 26, 2000. Melton appealed again, but the Supreme Court of Virginia refused his petition on August 17, 2000, and denied his petition for rehearing on September 15, 2000. Melton did not appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States; therefore, his conviction became final on December 15, 2000. Sup. Ct. R. 13 (Petition for a writ of certiorari is timely when filed with ninety days after entry of an order denying discretionary review.).

         On June 21, 2002, Melton filed a § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus.[2] On February 28, 2003, the court dismissed the petition as untimely. Melton v. Young, No. 7:02CV00759 (W.D. Va. Feb. 28, 2003). The district court later dismissed a motion for reconsideration, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Melton's appeal.

         Over a decade later, Melton filed a state habeas petition on August 5, 2015 in the Halifax County Circuit Court. The circuit court dismissed the petition as untimely on August 10, 2016, and Melton did not appeal.

         On September 23, 2016, Melton filed the current petition, alleging three claims of court error, all of which he presented to the Supreme Court of Virginia on direct appeal:

         1. The trial court erred by refusing to grant the defense motion to strike as there was insufficient evidence to convict the defendant of murder and use of a firearm during a murder;

         2. The trial court erred by failing to grant a mistrial when a witness indicated the defendant said he wanted to kill three other people; and

         3. The trial court erred by failing to grant a mistrial where a witness testified that the defendant was in jail on a charge of possession of a firearm after being a convicted felon.

         II. Time-Bar

          Under the Anti-terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a one-year period of limitation for federal habeas corpus runs from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time ...

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