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Wiland v. Clarke

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia

March 1, 2018

Matthew Wayne Wiland, Petitioner,
v.
Harold W. Clarke, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Anthony J. Trenga United States District Judge.

         Matthew Wayne Wiland, 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 in the Circuit Court for the City of Fredericksburg. Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss and Rule 5 Answer, along with a supporting brief and exhibits. Petitioner was given the opportunity to file responsive materials, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975) and Local Rule 7K. Petitioner filed a response. The matter is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, respondent's Motion to Dismiss will be granted, and the petition will be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background

         The record reflects the following. Petitioner is detained pursuant to a final judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of Fredericksburg, entered December 13, 2013. Mot. to Dismiss at Ex. A. Petitioner was convicted by a jury of three counts of use or display of a firearm in the commission of a felony, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-53.1, one count of conspiracy to commit armed burglary, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-89, one count of armed statutory burglary, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-90, three counts of robbery, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-58, and three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-58. Id. Petitioner was sentenced to forty-eight (48) years and fifty-one (51) days imprisonment, with no time suspended. Id.

Petitioner pursued a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia, which was denied on October 8, 2014, and December 15, 2014. Id. at Ex. B. On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals of Virginia stated the facts as follows.
[Petitioner] was convicted of multiple felonies arising out of an incident on May 7, 2012, in which he and two others entered a home with a shotgun, held the occupants at gunpoint, and robbed them.
***
[Petitioner] defended the charges against him by maintaining he acted under duress because he felt threatened by his companion[s][1] ... at the time he entered the victims' home and committed the offenses.

Record No. 2451-13-2 (footnote added). One of the victims of the robbery was Dylan Evans. Id. The Supreme Court of Virginia subsequently refused the petition for appeal on June 29, 2015. Mot. to Dismiss at Ex. C.

         During the trial, prior to beginning his opening statement, petitioner's trial counsel asked for a bench conference at which the following exchange, in relevant part, occurred.

Trial Counsel: Let me proffer to the Court that the - our defense theory of the case is that the two [perpetrators] knew that Mr. Evans was distributing marijuana and a form of ecstacy [sic] known as molly, that and there's going to be evidence presented during our case in chief that [petitioner] had obtained these kind of drugs for them before and that they knew that it was coming from Mr. Evans. And that Mr. ~ this is the first time that they had a chance to go to the home of Mr. Evans and that they decided to use that opportunity to rob Mr. Evans without the knowledge of [petitioner] beforehand.
***
Trial Court: But why would that matter? Why would the motive of [the perpetrators] - Trial Counsel: Right. Because the evidence is going to be that [petitioner] was contacted by the [perpetrators] to purchase a half-ounce of marijuana from Mr. Wood and that, in setting up the meeting with Mr. Wood, he said to the [perpetrators] we're going to - they were giving him a ride and that we're going to go over to the house of Dylan Evans and wait for him there.
And the [perpetrators], at that time, had known that Mr. Evans was, you know, a dealer and that they had purchased from him before through [petitioner] and had every reason to believe that Mr. Evans had the drugs that they were looking for. They're saying, where is the stuff- you know, that was a statement that was revealed in discovery - and that they used the opportunity to go to the home of Mr. Evans and to rob him at that time. It also and it's part of our- you know, the facts that we're going to show that [petitioner] did not have any prior knowledge that they were going to rob these people.
Trial Court: Well, that's the definition for - I mean, how was your client going to testify to the motive of the [perpetrators]? I mean, he can testify as to why he went.
Trial Court: Right. He can't say what the motive of the [perpetrators] was, but he can say that he knew that they knew that the - Trial Court: (interjecting) Your client can testify about why he went.
Trial Counsel: Right. And he can also testify that the two - the [perpetrators] -one of them anyway - knew that [petitioner] had obtained these drugs from Mr. Evans before for him - for the [perpetrator] in the past.
Trial Court: How can he testify as to what's in another's mind?
***
Trial Counsel: That was the [perpetrators'] motive to rob without - Trial Court: (interjecting) But your client can't testify as to what someone else's motive was.
Trial Counsel: Right. I know he can't testify to the motive, but I can argue it after presenting the facts.
Trial Court: Okay. Well, I think it will all depend on what the evidence is. I'll allow you to make your opening statement, but I'm telling you, [trial counsel], I would caution you that if you make an opening statement - Trial Counsel: I know.
Trial Court: - and you don't meet the - Trial Counsel: I know.
Trial Court: All right. It's going to be to his detriment.
Trial Counsel: I understand. I understand.
Trial Court: You understand that?
Trial Counsel: Yes, sir.
Trial Court: And I'll make my ruling on the evidence as it's presented.

Commonwealth v. Wiland, CR12001571-00.

         After pursuing his direct appeal, petitioner timely filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia on June 20, 2016. Mot. to Dismiss at Ex. D. The Supreme Court of Virginia stated the facts, as related to trial counsel's performance, as follows.

The record, including the trial transcript, demonstrates that, outside the presence of the jury, counsel sought permission to tell the jury during his opening statement that petitioner had obtained drugs from the victims in the past and planned to do so on the night of the crimes. Counsel also said he would tell the jury petitioner had gone to the victims' home with the perpetrators to obtain drugs, but the perpetrators used the opportunity to rob the victims and petitioner participated in the robbery under duress because he had been threatened. It was during this bench conference that counsel made the statement petitioner attributes to counsel's opening statement, that "the actual perpetrator's intent would become apparent and [petitioner's] ...

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