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Holliday v. Weir

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 2, 2018

DEAN B. HOLLIDAY, SR., Petitioner,
KIMBERLY WEIR, Respondent.



         Petitioner, Dean B. Holliday, Sr. (“Holliday”), currently incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this habeas corpus action pursuant to section 2254 of title 28 of the United States Code, challenging his conviction for attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. See Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Pet.”) (Doc. No. 1). The respondent contends that Holliday is not entitled to federal habeas relief on any ground for relief asserted in his Petition. See Respondent's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Mem. in Opp.”) (Doc. No. 11). For the reasons that follow, the court concludes that the Petition should be denied.

         I. Procedural Background

         On April 26, 2006, Holliday was convicted following a jury trial in the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of New Britain on two counts of attempt to commit robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. See Pet. at 2. He was sentenced to a total effective term of imprisonment of forty years, twenty years on the first attempt charge, twenty years consecutive on the conspiracy charge, and ten years concurrent on the second attempt charge. See id.

         Prior to filing a direct appeal, Holliday sought review of his sentence by the Sentence Review Division of the Superior Court. See State v. Holliday, 982 A.2d 268, 270 (Conn. App. 2009), cert. denied, 989 A.2d 605 (Conn. 2010). On April 26, 2005, the Sentence Review Division remanded the case to the trial court with an order to resentence Holliday to thirteen years on the first attempt charge and twelve years consecutive on the conspiracy charge, for a total effective sentence of twenty-five years. See id. The sentence on the second attempt charge was not altered. See id.

         While the sentence review was pending, Holliday appealed his conviction. See State v. Holliday, 856 A.2d 1041 (Conn. App.), cert. denied, 861 A.2d 1178 (Conn. 2004). On direct appeal, Holliday challenged his conviction on four grounds: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court improperly admitted evidence of prior misconduct, (3) the trial court improperly admitted Holliday's statement to the police, and (4) prosecutorial misconduct. See id. at 1044. The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the conviction, and the Connecticut Supreme Court denied certification to appeal. See id.

         In August 2005, Holliday filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this court. See Holliday v. Martin, No. 3:05-cv-1243 (JCH), Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 1). When the respondent moved to dismiss the Petition as containing some unexhausted claims, Holliday sought to voluntarily withdraw the Petition without prejudice to refiling. See Holliday v. Martin, Notice of Voluntary Dismissal (Doc. No. 29). The court granted this request. See Holliday v. Martin, Order Granting Notice of Voluntary Dismissal (Doc. No. 30).

         In March 2006, Holliday filed a Petition for New Trial in state court. See Holliday v. State of Connecticut, No. HHB-CV06-4012524-S, 2007 WL 1121270, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 29, 2007). In support of his Petition, Holliday cited newly discovered evidence, namely two redacted United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) police reports. See id. The state court found that the Petition was time-barred. See Id. The appellate court affirmed the state court's decision on appeal. See Holliday v. Connecticut, 960 A.2d 1101, 1103 (Conn. App. 2008), cert denied, 967 A.2d 112 (Conn. 2009).

         In June 2008, Holliday filed a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence in the criminal case, on the ground that his consecutive sentences violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. See State v. Holliday, 982 A.2d 268, 269 (Conn. App. 2009). The trial court denied the Motion, and the judgment was affirmed by the Connecticut Appellate Court. See id.

         Holliday also filed three state habeas actions. Holliday filed the first action in July 2005, asserting several ineffective assistance of counsel claims that are not included in this action. See Holliday v. Warden, No. TSR-CV05-4000577-S, 2009 WL 6022059, at *14 (Conn. Super. Ct. Nov. 30, 2009), appeal dismissed, 37 A.3d 170, 171 (Conn. App.), cert. denied, 44 A.3d 182 (Conn. 2012). Holliday filed the second state habeas action in July 2010, asserting a claim of actual innocence. The trial court noted that the petition was a reiteration of claims already presented and denied the petition. See Holliday v. Warden, State Prison, No. TSR-CV10-4003667-S, 2012 WL 7656639, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Nov. 16, 2012). Holliday's appeal was denied. See Mem. in Opp., App. B, Appellate Court Docket (Doc. No. 11-2) at 29-30. Holliday commenced a third state habeas action in April 2016, but withdrew his petition in July 2017. See Mem. in Opp., App. B., Superior Court Docket (Doc. No. 11-2) at 31-32.

         Holliday commenced this action by petition filed July 5, 2017. See Pet.

         II. Factual Background

         The Connecticut Court of Appeals determined that the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On April 4, 2001, Holliday was cleaning a retail store in anticipation of selling a failed business that he owned with his fiancée. Holliday, 856 A.2d at 1044. Between noon and 1:00 p.m., Holliday drove his fiancée's car to the Veterans Administration Federal Credit Union (“the Credit Union”) in Newington, Connecticut. Id. He parked in a no parking zone. Id. Holliday was wearing latex gloves, heavy clothing, and a backpack. Id. Before entering the Credit Union, Holliday put the dust mask he had been using while cleaning the store over his face. Id.

         The manager was called when an employee became alarmed at Holliday's appearance. Id. When the manager approached him, Holliday lifted the mask slightly and asked if a person could cash a check if he were not a member of the Credit Union. Id. When the manager stated that he could not cash a check there, Holliday thanked her and left the Credit Union. Id. He got into his car and drove away. Id. The encounter lasted about forty-five seconds. Id. The manager contacted the police and told them of Holliday's suspicious behavior. Id. That evening, Holliday called his friend and told him that the security in the Credit Union was poor. Id.

         The following day, in response to her encounter with Holliday, the manager advised her employees to be prepared for trouble. Id. Holliday met his friend at the store, and the two men went to the Credit Union. Id. When they arrived, Holliday parked the car close to the building, again in a no parking zone. Id. The day was warm and the front door to the Credit Union was propped open. Id. An employee of the Credit Union was walking to the front door as Holliday and his friend exited the car. Id. Both men were wearing latex gloves and dust masks. Id. The employee saw the men and saw Holliday reach into the back seat of the car and remove a black bag. Id. In response to the earlier warning from her manager, the employee slammed and locked the front door of the Credit Union. Id. Another employee contacted the manager who activated the alarm and called the police. Id.

         Holliday and his friend fled. Id. Holliday drove at a high rate of speed toward West Hartford. Id. He drove through traffic lights, wove through traffic, and drove on the pedestrian walkway. Id. Newington and West Hartford police responded to the call and pursued Holliday and his friend into West Hartford. Id. Holliday tried to avoid the police by driving into an industrial area, where the men abandoned the car and fled on foot. Id. A police dog tracked Holliday and his friend to a dumpster about two miles from the car. Id. The men were arrested. Id. at 1045. The police brought the Credit Union manager and two employees to the dumpster where they each identified Holliday, his friend, and the car. Id.

         The men were taken to police headquarters in separate police cars. Id. The police searched Holliday's fiancée's car and found two pairs of latex gloves, two dust masks, two duffel bags, another bag containing marijuana, and a .22 caliber shell. Id. At police headquarters, Holliday told the police that he knew his friend was planning to rob the Credit Union and that his friend frequently carried a large military knife and a silver handgun. Id. The police took Holliday back to the area where the men had abandoned the car and found a silver .22 caliber handgun. Id. The police returned to headquarters with Holliday, and he gave another statement. Id.

         Holliday confessed as follows: he had spoken with his friend the night before and told his friend that the security at the Credit Union was weak; he went to the Credit Union with his friend that morning; he gave his friend the dust mask; his friend had put on the dust mask and got out of the car; he knew that his friend was going to rob the Credit Union; when the employee slammed the door, he thought they had been detected and the police had been called; he fled from the Credit Union because the car had illegal marker plates and there was marijuana in the car; he had broken several traffic laws when fleeing from the police; and he knew his actions were wrong. Id.

         The Connecticut Appellate Court also noted that the jury could have found that, on August 30, 1995, Holliday entered a West Hartford bank wearing a stocking over his head and carrying a BB gun. Id. Holliday robbed the bank and put the money in a backpack he was carrying. Id. He was caught the same day and confessed. Id. The jury could have considered this information only in determining Holliday's intent. Id.

         III. Standard of Review

         The federal court will entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging a state court conviction only if the petitioner claims that his custody violates the Constitution or federal laws. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (2016).

         The federal court cannot grant a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by a person in state custody with regard to any claim that was rejected on the merits by the state court ...

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