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Hylton v. Taylor

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 17, 2017

JERI TAYLOR, Respondent.

          KRISTINA HELLMAN Assistant Federal Public Defender Attorney for Petitioner

          ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM Attorney General FREDERICK M. BOSS Deputy Attorney General KRISTEN E. BOYD Senior Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Respondent



         Petitioner, an inmate at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 2).


         On November 1, 2004, a Marion County grand jury indicted Petitioner on one count of Attempted Murder, two counts of Kidnaping in the First Degree, and one count each of Assault in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree, and Assault in the Fourth Degree. Resp. Sxh. 102. The charges were based upon allegations that Petitioner and his co-defendant, Pete Quismundo, assaulted Petitioner's girlfriend Michelle Simpson, threatened to kill her, and tried to force her into a car.

         Petitioner and Ms. Simpson lived together in an apartment which Billie Bailer managed. On October 20, 2004, Ms. Bailer was awakened by screams and banging on her window at about 3:00 a.m.. She went outside and saw Petitioner and Quismundo assaulting Ms. Simpson. They were on either side of Ms. Simpson and were "smashing" her head into the top part of Petitioner's car and punching her. Ms. Bailer heard both men threaten to kill Ms. Simpson, "telling her they were going to cut her up and float her down the river and that nobody would ever miss her." Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 40-41. Ms. Bailer screamed for them to stop, and when they did not, she told her daughter-in-law to call 911.

         Ms. Simpson got away from Petitioner and Quismundo and ran into Ms. Bailer's house. Petitioner and Quismundo got into Petitioner's car and drove away. Once back inside, Ms. Bailer saw that Ms. Simpson was "bloody all over" and was holding her ribs.

         Police Officer Richard Beal responded to the 911 call. Officer Beal found Ms, Simpson standing in the doorway of Ms. Bailer's house with a towel over her left eye. She was crying, was "visibly shaking, " and had blood "from the top of her hair running down the side of her head." Res. Exh. 104, p 140. Ms. Simpson told Officer Beal that Petitioner "had beat her and was trying to kill her." Resp. Exh. 104, p. 141. She told Officer Beal that the assault began in her apartment, that she ran from the apartment, and that Petitioner and Quismundo tried to force her into the car "to take her out and kill her." Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 141-42. An ambulance arrived and transported Ms. Simpson to the hospital.

         A short time later, another officer stopped Petitioner and Quismundo, and Officer Beal went to the stop location. Beal found a "large kitchen knife" on the front passenger side floorboard of the car. Both Petitioner and Quismundo were arrested and taken to the police station.

         Officer Beal went to the hospital to speak to Ms. Simpson again. Ms. Simpson suffered injuries including "two broken ribs, two fractured ribs, two shattered discs in her vertebra, and she required five stitches." Resp. Exh. 104, p. 77. Ms. Simpson provided Officer Beal additional details about the attack. She told Officer Beal that Petitioner had become angry and assaulted her because she had cheated on him. Petitioner initially hit her with an open hand, but then he became more violent, and he hit her with his fist on the back of her head and her face. Petitioner also stood in front of her and kicked her legs as he questioned her, and kicked her in the shins and in the torso as she lay on the floor. Ms. Simpson told Officer Beal she became "more and more scared" as Petitioner was getting "out of control." Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 146-47.

         Ms. Simpson told Officer Beal that Quismundo initially sat on the couch and watched Petitioner assault her, but then he started "egging [Petitioner] on, " telling him "You ought to cut her throat" and "let's kill this bitch, man. Come on. Let's make her disappear." Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 148-491. Ms. Simpson reported that Petitioner told her "I am going to kill you and you'll never see your kids again." Resp. Exh. 104, p 149. Because she was afraid for her life, Ms. Simpson looked for a way to escape. When Petitioner and Quismundo went into the kitchen, Ms. Simpson heard a drawer open and heard what she believed to be the sound of a knife pulled out. She told Officer Beal that she bolted for the door and ran to Ms. Bailer's house, where she screamed and pounded on the house to get someone's attention.

         Ms. Simpson told Officer Beal that Petitioner was right behind her and grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to his car. Petitioner said "Bitch. Where do you think you're going." Resp. Exh. 104, p. 150. Ms. Simpson pleaded for her life, but Petitioner told her, "You're going for a ride and nobody is going to give a fuck. Come on man. Let's cut this bitch." Resp. Ex. 104, p. 151. Ms. Simpson told Officer Beal she remembered Petitioner holding her, Quismundo hitting her, and her head "bouncing off the top of the car." Resp. Exh. 104, p. 151. When someone screamed, Petitioner and Quismundo released her and she ran into Ms. Bailer's house.

         Later that same day, Officer Beal contacted Ms. Simpson again at Ms. Bailer's house. Ms. Simpson again said Petitioner was upset because she had cheated on him. She told Officer Beal that there was no question in her mind that if Bailer had not intervened, "she would have been killed." Resp. Exh. 121, p. 13. Officer Beal also talked to Ms. Bailer, who told him she saw Petitioner and Quismundo banging Ms. Simpson's head off the top of the car, and reported hearing Petitioner and Quismundo make statements like; "Come on. Let's cut this bitch. Let's go man." Resp. Exh. 104, p. 163.

         Officer Beal interviewed Quismundo twice. The first time, immediately after the incident, Quismundo told Beal he was actually present to see Petitioner assault Ms. Simpson and that he tried to stop him from injuring her, but then Quismundo said something like "if I would have tried to stop him . . . well you see how big he is ... I wouldn't be able to help her." Resp. Exh. 121, pp. 9-10. The second time Officer Beal spoke to Quismundo, he told Officer Beal Petitioner had been fighting with Ms. Simpson for about an hour before the police arrived, and he described the events inside the apartment as Petitioner asking questions of Ms. Simpson and then he would hit or kick her. Quismundo mentioned numerous times that he would have stopped Petitioner from assaulting Ms. Simpson, but because of Petitioner's size, he did not.

         Before trial, Ms. Simpson did not appear for a grand jury proceeding. The prosecution asked the court to declare her a material witness, and a hearing was held. At the hearing, Ms. Simpson testified that she would appear at trial and wanted to testify against Petitioner. She denied that she had spoken to Petitioner after the incident, even though the state had recordings of her calls to Petitioner, and Ms. Simpson was convicted of perjury for lying under oath at the hearing.

         Also before trial, Petitioner's attorney had a private investigator interview Ms. Simpson. Ms, Simpson denied to the private investigator that Petitioner had hit her, and she placed the blame on Quismundo instead.

         Petitioner's case was joined with Quismundo's case for trial. At the joint trial, the state presented testimony from three witnesses: Ms. Bailer, Ms. Simpson, and Officer Beal.

         Ms. Bailer testified consistently with what she had reported to Officer Beal, that is, she heard screaming and someone knocking on her window on the night of the altercation, and she saw Petitioner and Quismundo holding Ms. Simpson and heard them "telling her that they were going to cut her up and float her down the river." Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 32-33. Ms. Bailer saw both Quismundo and Petitioner holding and hitting Ms. Simpson.

         Ms. Simpson's testimony differed dramatically from what she told Officer Beal. She testified she either did not remember making inculpatory statements to Officer Beal about the attack and, if she had made them, they were false. Ms. Simpson blamed the attack entirely on Quismundo and portrayed Petitioner as a bystander. She testified that Quismundo, not Petitioner, beat her and kicked her while they were in the apartment because he was angry at her for cheating on Petitioner. Ms. Simpson testified that Petitioner was asleep, and that after about five minutes she awakened him and he got her a towel and tried to help her to the car. She testified that she did not go to Ms. Bailer's house and bang on her window or yell for help, and that she told Ms. Bailer to make up the incriminating statements she gave to Officer Beal.

         Officer Beal testified about the three conversations he had with Ms. Simpson and relayed the statements she made about the attack as described above. On cross-examination, Quismundo's attorney asked Officer Beal about statements Quismundo had made to him. Officer Beal testified that Quismundo told Beal that he would have intervened but he was scared of Petitioner because of his size, that Quismundo heard Petitioner tell Ms. Simpson he wanted to kill her and she would never see her children again, and that had Quismundo not been there to intervene, he believed Petitioner would have killed Ms. Simpson. Officer Beal also testified that Quismundo told him that Petitioner was the one who actually struck Ms. Simpson when they were in the apartment.

         At the close of the state's evidence, both Petitioner and Quismundo moved for judgments of acquittal, which the trial judge denied. Petitioner's attorney then raised another matter with the Court:

DEFENSE COUNSEL: There is one other matter. It is a pro se matter that I have discussed. [Petitioner] previously -- and I don't think that he agrees with my analysis of the law on it. I think [Petitioner's] belief has historically been that this should not have been a joint trial. I think he feels that the testimony of the co-defendant puts him at a disadvantage ...

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