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Farrell v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

April 11, 2017

CHARLES FARRELL III, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Charles Farrell, III, by counsel, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus attempting to challenge his conviction and 63 year sentence for felony murder in Elkhart Circuit Court on August 12, 2010. The respondent argues that the habeas corpus petition must be dismissed because the claims are procedurally defaulted and without merit. Farrell filed a reply and this matter is ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In deciding the petition, the court must presume the facts set forth by the state courts are correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). It is Farrell's's burden to rebut this presumption with clear and convincing evidence. Id. On direct appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals set forth the facts underlying this case as follows:

On July 25, 2009, Farrell asked Daron Tuggle if Farrell could “get some work, ” which Tuggle understood to mean Farrell wanted to purchase cocaine. Farrell indicated he wanted a “kilo or two.” Tuggle contacted Alphonso James, whom Tuggle had assisted with large quantity cocaine deals in the past, and arranged a deal between Farrell and James.
Farrell arrived at the designated site with Bruce White and an unidentified third person. James was present with Tuggle and Noble Dennie. All six men entered a lower level apartment, where James handed Farrell two packages that were three inches wide and eleven inches long and wrapped in duct tape. Tuggle testified such packaging was indicative of a “bird or brick” of cocaine. Farrell asked for something to open the “brick” and Tuggle went to the kitchen to look for a knife.
While Tuggle was out of the room, White pulled out a gun, pointed it at James, and told James to “give it up.” While James and White struggled with the gun, Farrell pulled out a gun and pointed it at Tuggle. When he saw the gun, Tuggle ducked down to the floor, saw White shoot James, and covered his head until the gunfire stopped. After the other men left, Tuggle called 911 to get help for James. When police arrived, James was dead.
Farrell, Tuggle, and White were charged with felony murder. Tuggle agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to deliver cocaine and to testify against Farrell. In exchange, the State dropped the murder charge against Tuggle. A jury found Farrell guilty of felony murder.

Farrell v. State, No. 20A03-1008-CR-457, slip op. at *2-3 (Ind.Ct.App. July 19, 2011); attached as ECF 7-6.

         For his role in setting up the drug deal that resulted in James' death, Farrell was convicted of felony murder as an accomplice; the underlying felony was delivery of cocaine. Id. On direct appeal, Farrell argued: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction; (2) the trial court had improper communications with the jury; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for mistrial. ECF 7-3 at p. 5. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. ECF 7-6 at p. 9. Farrell then petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court, arguing that the Indiana Court of Appeals' opinion conflicts with another appellate opinion interpreting the felony-murder statute. ECF 7-7 at pp. 6-7. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer. ECF 2 at p.2.

         Farrell filed a petition for post-conviction relief and, after a hearing, the trial court denied the petition on February 10, 2014. ECF 7-1 at 5. On appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, Farrell raised two claims. First, he argued that he was convicted of a different crime than the one he was charged with because the State cited to a different subsection of the dealing statute on direct appeal. ECF 7-10 at pp. 10-13. Farrell labeled this a due process violation. Second, Farrell argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective for not raising this due process violation on direct appeal. Id. at pp. 13-15. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court's decision. ECF 7-12. After the court of appeals denied his request for a rehearing, Farrell sought transfer in the Indiana Supreme Court. ECF 7-14. He raised two issues: (1) whether the Indiana Court of Appeals decided an important question of law; and (2) whether he was denied due process because he did not have notice of the crime for which he was charged. Id. at 2. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Farrell has filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus here raising two claims: (1) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; and (2) a due process violation because he was ...


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