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Freeman v. Vannoy

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

December 10, 2018





         Petitioner Dveil Freeman, an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections, filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 27, 2018. [doc. # 1]. Freeman attacks his convictions for second degree murder and seven drug related offenses and the sentences imposed for each crime by Louisiana's 4th Judicial District Court, Ouachita Parish. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the Court.


         On May 13, 2010, Freeman was charged by bill of indictment with the following offenses: (1) second degree murder of David Green; (2) possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; (3) possession of N-benzylpiperazine with intent to distribute; (4) possession of 400 grams or more of cocaine; (5) conspiracy to distribute a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”); (6) conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II CDS; (7) conspiracy to commit transactions involving proceeds from drug offense; and (8) transactions involving proceeds from drug offense.

         On July 7, 2010, Freeman filed a motion to suppress, seeking to suppress all physical evidence seized as a result of a search of the rental vehicle he had been driving when he was arrested, and all statements given by Freeman to law enforcement concerning such evidence. Without first obtaining a warrant, the Louisiana State Police (“LSP”) had placed a global positioning system (“GPS”) device to the frame of the vehicle with a magnet. On January 30, 2012, Freeman filed a supplemental motion to suppress, based on the then recent United States Supreme Court case, United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012), wherein the Court held that the attachment of a GPS device to a vehicle and the subsequent monitoring of the vehicle's movements on public streets is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Following hearings on the motion to suppress and Freeman's subsequent motion to reopen suppression evidence, the trial court signed a judgment denying Freeman's motion, without providing any reasons.

         Freeman's jury trial began on March 12, 2014. On March 19, 2014, the jury found Freeman guilty as charged on all eight counts. On August 8, 2014, the trial court adjudicated Freeman a third felony offender and sentenced him to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefits on each one of Counts One through Six and Count Eight; and to five years on Count Seven. The court ordered Counts Two through Six and Count Eight to run concurrently with each other and with Count Four, which was to run consecutive to Count One. Freeman, 194 So.3d 1.

         Freeman filed a direct appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, raising two issues: (1) trial court error in denying the motion to suppress; and (2) insufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt on the second degree murder charge. On April 13, 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed Freeman's convictions and sentences. Id. On May 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of Louisiana denied Freeman's subsequent application for writ of certiorari and/or review. State v. Freeman, 2016-0927 (La. 5/1/17), 220 So.3d 743. Freeman did not file a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, and he did not seek collateral review in the state courts. [doc. # 1 ¶¶ 9(h), 10].

         On April 27, 2018, Freeman filed the instant habeas corpus petition, arguing: (1) his motion to suppress was wrongfully denied because officers conducted an illegal search when they placed a GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a warrant; and (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction of second degree murder. (Id. ¶ 12). The State filed a response on July 9, 2018. [doc. # 9].[2] On July 31, 2018, Freeman filed a memorandum of law in support of his petition. [doc. # 16]. This matter is ripe.

         Standard of Review

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) of 1996, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, governs habeas corpus relief of a state prisoner. The AEDPA limits how a federal court may consider habeas claims. After a state court has adjudicated a prisoner's claims on the merits, federal review “is limited to the record that was before the state court.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011). An application for a writ of habeas corpus should be granted if the petitioner shows that the adjudication of the claim in state court:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).

         A decision is “contrary to” clearly established Federal law “if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by . . . [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than . . . [the Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Dowthitt v. Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 740-41 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000)). “The ‘contrary to' requirement refers to holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of . . . [the Supreme Court's] decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision.” Id. at 740 (citations and internal quotations omitted). “[U]nder the ‘unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies ...

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