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United States v. Edwards

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

November 27, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ELBRENDEL EDWARDS, Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (DENYING 28 U.S.C. § 2255 MOTION)

          HENRY E.HUDSON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Elbrendel Edwards, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, submitted this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion," ECF No. 27).[1] Edwards contends that he experienced ineffective assistance of counsel[2] and demands relief on the following grounds:[3]

Claim One: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not challenging the Government's case in an adversarial meaningful testing. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 688, 690 (1984)." (§ 2255 Mot. 4.)
Claim Two: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not suppressing [the] Government's non-existent evidence to support enhancement at sentencing. See Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2017)...." (Id.)
Claim Three: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not challenging sentence enhancement for Armed Career Criminal Act for predicate[] offenses." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Four: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not objecting to specific predicate[] offenses that did or did not qualify Petitioner for enhancements to his present cause." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Five: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not protecting Petitioner's 4th Amendment right to the Constitution [in] that the procedure for Indictment was defective in Petitioner's present case." (Id. at 5.)
Claim Six: "Counsel[] fail[ed] to familiarize herself with the case, review [and] investigate facts concerning case, or review police, lab reports and forensic evidence [of] drugs in conjunction with the crime." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Seven: "Counsel [was] ineffective for having too many cumulative errors." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Eight: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not protecting Petitioner's overall rights to the Constitution of his 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 13th, and 14th Amendment rights that are and were placed in jeopardy." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Nine: "Counsel [was] ineffective for not raising crucial argument for Petitioner not being enhanced based on the assumption of non-qualifying predicate[] offenses." (Id. (citations omitted).)
Claim Ten: "Counsel's failure to produce expert drug analysis witness in conjunction with sentencing phase of the court proceedings to protect Petitioner against harsher sentence about quantity and quality of drugs." (Id. (citations omitted).)

         The Government has responded, asserting that Edwards's claims lack merit. (ECF No. 35.) Edwards filed a reply. (ECF No. 37.) For the reasons set forth below, Edwards's § 2255 Motion (ECF No. 27) will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Indictment and Guilty Plea

         On May 17, 2016, a grand jury charged Edwards with one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin (Count One), one count of possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin (Count Two), and possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon (Count Three). (Indictment 1-2, ECF No. 8.) On July 22, 2016, Edwards pled guilty to Counts Two and Three, and the Government agreed to dismiss Count One. (Plea Agreement ¶¶ 1, 10, ECF No. 14.) In the Plea Agreement,

[t]he government and the defendant agree[d] to recommend to the Court a specific sentence on Counts Two and Three as charged in the Criminal Indictment, to wit: a term of 30 years of imprisonment, consisting of 30 years on Count Two, and 10 years on Count Three, which sentence is to run concurrent with the sentence that is imposed on Count Two (unless the defendant qualifies in Count Three for a sentence pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act in which case the parties agree to recommend to the Court a sentence of 30 years on Count Three to run concurrent with the sentence imposed in Count Two)....

(Id. ¶ 5.)

         In the Statement of Facts accompanying his Plea Agreement, Edwards agreed that "had this matter proceeded to trial, the United States would have proven each of the following facts set forth herein beyond a reasonable doubt":

1. On or about April 18, 2016, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere within the jurisdiction of this Court, the defendant, ELBRENDEL EDWARDS, did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possess with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of Heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 84l(b)(1)(B)(i), and he did possess firearms and ammunition, to wit: a Raven Arms .25 caliber handgun; a Taurus .22 caliber revolver; a Smith and Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol; and assorted ammunition after having been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).
2. In early 2016, law enforcement officers became aware of drug trafficking activities involving ELBRENDEL EDWARDS and others. According to information received, EDWARDS was purchasing heroin and cocaine in the New York metropolitan area and redistributing these narcotics in the central Virginia area.
3. On March 22, 2016, a controlled purchase of heroin was made from EDWARDS utilizing a confidential source. EDWARDS was observed leaving 2714 Alexander Avenue, Richmond, Virginia prior to the controlled purchase of heroin, and was later observed returning to that location and entering the residence. Edwards was observed entering this same residence a few days later while using a key to unlock the front door.
4. On April 14, 2016, a controlled purchase of heroin was made from EDWARDS utilizing a confidential source. Prior to this sale, EDWARDS was at 1312 Evert Avenue, Richmond, Virginia.
5. On April 14, 2016, an individual was arrested by Virginia State Police for distribution of heroin. This individual admitted to selling heroin, and identified EDWARDS as the source ...

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