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Juarez v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 4, 2017

ANTELMO JUAREZ, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         An Indiana jury convicted Antelmo Juarez of murder and criminal gang activity. He was sentenced in accord with that verdict. Mr. Juarez now seeks a writ of habeas corpus.

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Juarez's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied and the action is dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

         I. Applicable Law

         The federal habeas corpus statute “permits a federal court to entertain only those applications alleging that a person is in state custody ‘in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a)). “As amended by [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”)], 28 U.S.C. § 2254 sets several limits on the power of a federal court to grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a state prisoner.” Id. “Under the current regime governing federal habeas corpus for state prison inmates, the inmate must show, so far as bears on this case, that the state court which convicted him unreasonably applied a federal doctrine declared by the United States Supreme Court.” Redmond v. Kingston, 240 F.3d 590 (7th Cir. 2001) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000); Morgan v. Krenke, 232 F.3d 562 (7th Cir. 2000)).[1]

         “A state-court decision involves an unreasonable application of this Court's clearly established precedents if the state court applies this Court's precedents to the facts in an objectively unreasonable manner.” Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 131, 141 (2005) (internal citations omitted). “The habeas applicant has the burden of proof to show that the application of federal law was unreasonable.” Harding v. Sternes, 380 F.3d 1034, 1043 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 25 (2002)). In short, the standard of § 2254(d) is “difficult to meet . . . because it was meant to be.” Burt v. Titlow, 134 S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Cavazos v. Smith, 132 S.Ct. 2, 7-8 (2011) (per curiam) (citing Supreme Court jurisprudence “highlighting the necessity of deference to state courts in § 2254(d) habeas cases”).

         The first step under § 2254(d)(1) is “to identify the ‘clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States' that governs the habeas petitioner's claims.” Marshall v. Rodgers, 133 S.Ct. 1446, 1449 (2013) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 412; Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 122 (2009)). In proceeding with the analysis, a federal habeas court “must determine what arguments or theories supported, or, [in the case of an unexplained denial on the merits], could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fair minded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision of [the Supreme Court].” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011).

         II. Background

         Following a jury trial, Juarez was found guilty of murder and criminal gang activity as a Class D felony. His convictions were affirmed in Juarez v. State, 2010 WL 5122618 (Ind.Ct.App. Dec. 13, 2010)(“Juarez I”), and the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief was affirmed in Juarez v. State, 2015 WL 3767090 (Ind.Ct.App.), transfer denied, 37 N.E.3d 493 (Ind. 2015)(“Juarez II”). The evidence associated with Mr. Juarez's offenses was summarized in his direct appeal:

On February 18, 2006, fifteen-year-old Juarez and his nineteen-year-old brother, Oscar Perez, were members of the Nortenos gang. That evening, as they were leaving their residence with some of their friends, Perez told Juarez to go back inside and get the gun, which was a SKS rifle. Juarez put the rifle into the back of a friend's Dodge Durango. At some point during the evening, Perez moved the rifle to another vehicle, which was an Acura.
The group later went to La Bamba, a club in Goshen. While they were in the club, the group of Nortenos got into a fight with a group of rival gang members, the Surenos. Security officers threw the Nortenos out of the club, and the Surenos followed them to the parking lot. The Surenos left the parking lot in a Chevrolet Malibu, while the Nortenos followed in the Durango and the Acura. The Durango pulled up beside the Malibu, and some Nortenos gang members shot paintballs at the Malibu. Juarez and Perez were passengers in the Acura, which was following the Malibu and the Durango.
After seeing that the altercation was continuing, Perez told Juarez to “hand me the gun real quick, ” and Juarez handed the rifle to Perez. Tr. p. 880. The Surenos became upset about the paintballs, and the driver of the Malibu rammed into the back of the Durango. Perez then rolled his window down and fired the rifle at the Malibu, killing fourteen-year-old Rogelio Reyes and wounding Saul Rodriguez.

Juarez I, 2010 WL 5122618, at *1.

         Several of Mr. Juarez's habeas arguments relate to jury instructions. Final instruction 2 reads as follows:

Count I:
The undersigned affiant swears that on or about the 19th day of February, 2006, at the County of Elkhart and State of Indiana, one ANTELMO JUAREZ, did knowingly assist one Oscar Eduardo Perez in the killing of another human being, to wit: Rogelio Reyes, as the said Oscar Eduardo Perez did shoot the said Rogelio Reyes with a dangerous and deadly weapon, to-wit: a firearm, and as a direct and proximate result of the shooting as aforesaid, the said Rogelio Reyes was fatally wounded and did languish and die in said County and State on the 19th day of February, 2006 . . . .

         Final instruction 3 reads as follows:

The crime of murder as alleged in Count I is defined by statute as follows:
A person who knowingly aids, induces or causes another person in killing another human being commits murder, a felony.
To convict the defendant, the State must have proved each of the following elements:
The defendant:
5. knowingly
6. aided, induced, or ...

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