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Reliford v. Julian

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

May 31, 2017

ROCKY RELIFORD, Petitioner,
v.
S. JULIAN WARDEN, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, Petitioner Rocky Reliford seeks this Court's review of his petition for a writ habeas corpus challenging his detention. Reliford argues that the United States Parole Commission's (“Commission's”) decision to deny his mandatory parole was arbitrary and capricious and therefore an abuse of discretion. He also claims that the Commission's determination that he would likely re-offend if released is not supported by the record. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Reliford's petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts in this case are not in dispute. Between February 15, 1986, and March 15, 1986, Reliford, who was a United States Marine, along with two co-defendants conspired to rob and murder Lance Corporal Hiquiana and his wife. Dkt. 8-1 at 2. On March 15, 1986, Reliford slashed the Lance Corporal's throat and strangled his wife prior to slashing her throat. Dkt. 8-1 at 2.[1] Following the murders, Reliford and his co- defendants stole items in the apartment valued at $555.00. Dkt. 8-1 at 2. They also went to a credit union and withdrew $5, 500.00 from the victims' account. Dkt. 8-1 at 2.

         On August 21, 1996, Reliford was convicted of Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder, and Robbery and received a sentence of life imprisonment by the Navy Court Martial. Dkt. 8-1 at 5-7.

         On May 30, 2001, the Commission conducted an initial parole hearing for Reliford, after which it ordered him to continue his sentence and set a reconsideration hearing for May 2016. Dkt. 8-1 at 8-9.

         The National Appeals Board affirmed the Commission's decision. Dkt. 8-1 at 10.

         The Commission conducted Statutory Interim Hearings (“Interim Hearings”) on October 28, 2003, and January 5, 2009. Following each Interim Hearing, the Commission ordered no change in the 15-year reconsideration hearing date of May 2016. Dkt. 8-1 at 11-12.

         On February 20, 2009, the Commission designated Reliford's case as Original Jurisdiction. Dkt. 8-1 at 13.

         On January 4, 2011, the Commission conducted another Interim Hearing, after which it ordered no change to the 15-year reconsideration hearing date of May 2016 or the decision to continue Reliford's sentence to its expiration. Dkt. 8-1 at 14.

         On November 14, 2012, and November 13, 2014, the Commission held two more Interim Hearings and after each ordered no change in the previous decision. Dkt. 8-1 at 15-16.

         On November 9, 2015, the Commission conducted a Mandatory Parole Hearing for Reliford. Dkt. 8-1 at 20-21. Following the hearing, the Commission denied mandatory parole. Dkt. 8-1 at 20-21. In support of the denial, the Commission cited Reliford's 11 infractions during his incarceration, including assault and harassment of staff. Dkt. 8-1 at 20. The Commission noted that Reliford “attempted to minimize [his] actions in these 11 infractions and blamed others.” Dkt. 8-1 at 20. The Commission also considered the instant offense for which Reliford was incarcerated, which was the “brutal murder of a fellow U.S. Marine and his wife in which [Reliford's] co-defendant strangled and then sliced Mrs. Hiquiana's throat and then [Reliford] sliced Mr. Hiquiana's throat dropping the bodies on the apartment floor and they bled to death.” Dkt. 8-1 at 20. The Commission also noted Reliford's motivation for murdering and robbing the couple was to support his “lifestyle of drinking and womanizing in the city of Okinawa, Japan.” Dkt. 8-1 at 20. Further, the Commission considered Reliford's hearing testimony, in which he “attempted to minimize [his] conduct in these murders by saying [he] only killed Mr. Hiquiana after [he] watched [his] co-defendant kills [sic] Mrs. Hiquiana and just went along with him.” Dkt. 8-1 at 20. The Commission also noted that Reliford declined participation in programming that would minimize his risk to re-offend. Dkt. 8-1 at 20. Finally, the Commission again alluded to Reliford's inability to take responsibility for both his institutional infractions and the murder of the Hiquianas. Dkt. 8-1 at 20. Given these considerations, the Commission concluded that Reliford has frequently violated the rules of the institution and remained a threat to engage in further criminal activity should he be released on parole. Dkt. 8-1 at 20.

         Reliford appealed the Commission's decision and the National Appeals Board denied his petition for reconsideration on May 20, 2016. Dkt. 8-1 at 22.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Reliford argues that the Commission's findings that he is likely to re-offend and frequently violated institution rules, which informed the Commission's decision to deny his mandatory parole, are not supported by ...


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