United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
SEAN P. RICH, Petitioner,
WARDEN,  Respondent.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Sean P. Rich is serving a 93-year sentence for his 1999
Marion County, Indiana, convictions for class A felony
burglary, two counts of class B felony criminal confinement,
and class D felony theft. He brings this petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the
reasons that follow, Mr. Rich's petition for a writ of
habeas corpus is denied and the action
dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the
Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not
Factual and Procedural Background
March 3, 1999, after an eight day trial, a jury found Mr.
Rich guilty of the burglary and criminal confinement charges,
but returned a hung verdict as to the battery, murder, and
arson charges. See Dkt. 15-1 at 15. The trial court
sentenced Mr. Rich to an aggregate 93 years term of
Rich then appealed his conviction and sentence to the Indiana
Court of Appeals, but sought time to return to the trial
court to file post-judgement motions, which was granted.
Following the denial of his motions in the trial court, Mr.
Rich returned to the Indiana Court of Appeals to pursue his
direct appeal and raised issues of newly discovered evidence,
jury instructions, and double jeopardy. The Indiana Court of
Appeals affirmed his convictions, but remanded for
resentencing on one count of criminal confinement as a class
C felony after finding that the conviction as enhanced
violated double jeopardy principles. See Dkt. 15-7.
Mr. Rich sought transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court
challenging the Indiana Court of Appeal's holding that he
was not entitled to a new hearing based on newly discovered
evidence. See Dkt. 15-8. The Indiana Supreme Court
denied transfer on May 29, 2003.
29, 2005, Mr. Rich was resentenced to a four-year sentence
for his class C felony criminal confinement, which resulted
in a sixteen-year reduction in his aggregate sentence.
See Dkt. 15-1 at 22. Mr. Rich appealed his sentence
and challenged whether his other sentences, and not the one
that was reduced, violated the Sixth Amendment pursuant to
Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), and
Smylie v. State, 823 N.E.2d 679 (Ind. 2005). The
Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence on June 14,
2006. Dkt. 15-13. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer
on August 24, 2006.
March 2, 2007, Mr. Rich filed a petition for post-conviction
relief challenging the effectiveness of both trial and
appellate counsel, which the post-conviction trial court
denied. Mr. Rich appealed, claiming ineffective assistance of
appellate counsel for not challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence and claiming ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. Mr. Rich also asserted that his trial counsel failed
to object to the admission of his confirmation class
photograph and the admission of evidence that he was in
possession of stolen checks from the church; failed to
introduce exculpatory evidence; and failed to object to his
sentence as being manifestly unreasonable. The Indiana Court
of Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief on
August 2, 2010. See Dkt. 15-18. Mr. Rich sought
transfer challenging trial counsel's failure to object to
a prejudicial identification; request a mistrial after the
improper admission of evidence; and present exculpatory
evidence. Dkt. 15-19. The Indiana Supreme Court denied his
petition to transfer on September 28, 2010.
February 9, 2017, Mr. Rich filed a Motion to Correct
Erroneous Sentence that was denied by the trial court on
February 20, 2017.
12, 2017, Mr. Rich filed this petition for a writ of habeas
federal court may grant habeas relief only if the petitioner
demonstrates that he is in custody “in violation of the
Constitution or laws . . . of the United States.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a). Mr. Rich's petition is governed by
the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). See Lindh v.
Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997).
Supreme Court has described AEDPA as “a formidable
barrier to federal habeas relief for prisoners whose claims
have been adjudicated in state court” and has
emphasized that courts must not “lightly conclude that
a State's criminal justice system has experienced the
‘extreme malfunction' for which federal habeas
relief is the remedy.” Burt v. Titlow, 134
S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013) (quoting Harrington v. Richter,
562 U.S. 86 (2011)); see also Renico v. Lett, 559
U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (“AEDPA . . . imposes a highly
deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and
demands that state court decisions be given the benefit of
the doubt.”) (internal quotation marks, citations, and
support of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Mr. Rich
raise two claims: (1) his sentence violates the Eighth
Amendment because the trial court did not properly consider
his age or attributes of youth; and 2) the trial court
improperly unconstitutionally sentenced him in violation of
the Sixth Amendment. The respondent contends that Mr.
Rich's petition is barred by AEDPA's one-year statute
of limitations, but if his petition is timely, his claims are