United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Riley (“Petitioner”) filed this petition of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
challenging his conviction on charges of criminal attempt to
commit robbery and criminal attempt to commit larceny.
reasons that follow, the Second Amended Petition is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Connecticut Appellate Court determined that the jury
reasonably could have found the facts as follows.
On March 18, 2012, the [petitioner] drove to the Mohegan Sun
Casino in Montville in order to make up an $800 gambling loss
from the prior day. Upon his arrival at the casino, the
[petitioner] attempted to withdraw money from an automated
teller machine, but could not do so because his wife had
transferred money out of their account. After returning to
his car and falling asleep for a period of time, the
[petitioner] woke up and decided to commit a robbery. The
[petitioner] thus slipped a knife up the sleeve of his
sweatshirt and began to walk around the parking garage.
Louise Carty, an eighty-three year old woman, was at the
casino on March 18, 2012, to play the penny slots. As she was
entering the elevator in the Winter Parking Garage, Carty
noticed that a man, later identified as the [petitioner], was
following her inside. After the elevator door closed, the
man, whom Carty was never able to identify, “all of a
sudden pull[ed] a knife out of his pocket and head[ed] toward
me.” In response, Carty screamed, “No, no, no,
” and shoved the man, causing him to jump away from
her. Carty then grabbed the man's sweatshirt by the
sleeve and pursued him off the elevator. The man never took
or demanded money or property from Carty or verbally
At trial, the [petitioner] sought to defend himself by
raising the defense of renunciation under General Statutes
§ 53a-49(c). In support of that defense, he testified as
follows. First, he admitted that he was the man who had
accosted Carty in the elevator. Having initially intended to
rob her, he admittedly followed her into the elevator, pulled
a knife out of his sleeve to confront her and took two or
three steps toward her after the elevator doors closed. The
[petitioner] described as follows what happened in the
elevator as he began to approach Carty:
“[Defense Counsel]: What was your intention at that
“[The [Petitioner]]: My intentions as I approached her,
as I took, like, the second or third step to her, I'm,
like, oh, my God, this could by my grandmother; what am I
“[Defense Counsel]: So, when you thought that, what
were you going to do about that; were you going to do
anything about your thought?
“[The [Petitioner]]: I immediately said I'm sorry.
I basically curled the knife toward myself, and I was, like,
I'm sorry, I'm sorry. She then grabbed me.”
Carty, by contrast, testified that, although she heard the
man mumble something after she shoved him, she could not make
out what he said and did not hear him say that he was sorry.
After she and the man exited the elevator, the man hustled
away from Carty while she told others in the vicinity that
the man had tried to knife her.
State v. Riley, 159 Conn.App. 462, 466-67, 123 A.3d
123, 127-28 (2015), cert. denied, 319 Conn. 949, 125
A.3d 528 (2015) (footnote omitted).
Riley faced trial in Connecticut Superior Court for the
judicial district of New London on charges of attempted
robbery in the first degree, Conn. Gen. Stat §§
53a-49, 53a-134(a); threating in the second degree, Conn.
Gen. Stat § 53a-62; reckless endangerment, Conn. Gen.
Stat § 53a-63; larceny in the second degree, Conn. Gen.
Stat. 53a-123; and carrying a dangerous weapon, Conn. Gen.
Stat § 53-206. On March 16, 2013, a jury acquitted Mr.
Riley of the reckless endangerment charge, but convicted him
on all of the other charges. A judge subsequently sentenced
him to a term of imprisonment of six years.
direct appeal, Mr. Riley challenged only the two attempt
charges. He argued that there was insufficient evidence to
support the jury's rejection of his renunciation defense
and that the jury charge on the defense of renunciation was
constitutionally inadequate. The Connecticut Appellate Court
affirmed the conviction and the Connecticut Supreme Court
denied the petition for certification. Riley, 159
Conn.App. at 464-66, 123 A.3d at 126-27.
2014, while his direct appeal was pending, Mr. Riley filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus in state court on
the grounds that trial counsel was ineffective and the police
violated his rights by questioning him after he had requested
an attorney. Resp't's Mem. App. G, ECF No. 16-8 at 4.
A trial was held in January 2018. Riley v. Warden, State
Prison, No. TSR-CV14-4006347-S. A decision in that
matter has yet to issue.
Riley filed a second state habeas petition in 2017
challenging the denial of his request for immigration parole.
Resp't's Mem. App. H, ECF No. 16-9 at 5. That case
remains pending. Riley v. Commissioner of
Correction, No. TSR-CV17-4008656-S. No. issues from
these state petitions are included as grounds for relief in
this federal petition.
Riley petitioned this Court for relief on September 26, 2016.
The operative petition is the Second Amended Petition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
federal court will review 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).
federal court may 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