United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
DERRICK WAYNE HUNT, TDCJ No. 01817959, Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Petitioner Derrick Hunt's pro se Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
(ECF No. 1), Respondent's Answer (ECF No. 7),
Petitioner's Amended Petition (ECF No. 11), and his Reply
(ECF No. 14). Having reviewed the record and pleadings
submitted by both parties, the Court concludes Petitioner is
not entitled to relief under the standards prescribed by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”). See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Petitioner is also denied a certificate of appealability.
October of 2012, a Bexar County jury found Petitioner guilty
on one count of capital murder, and he was sentenced to life
imprisonment without parole. The facts presented at trial
were accurately summarized by the Fourth Court of Appeals in
his direct appeal:
In the early morning hours of October 10, 2011, John Dexter,
a taxi driver in San Antonio, was dispatched to Foss Meadows
Drive. Dexter activated his meter at 3:48 A.M. At 4:03 A.M.,
Dexter stopped at a nearby convenience store and purchased a
pack of gum with a twenty dollar bill and received $19.62 in
change. On his way out of the store, Dexter encountered San
Antonio Police Department Officer James Phelan, who was
taking a break. Dexter told Officer Phelan that he believed
his current customer would not pay the fare. Officer Phelan
offered to speak with the customer, but Dexter declined,
stating that he would call the police if the fare was not
paid. Officer Phelan observed a black male sitting in the
back seat of the taxi before Dexter left and drove away . . .
Several minutes later, Daniel Solis was sleeping in his home
on Sunrise Pass when he was awakened by five to six loud
banging noises. He looked out his front window and observed
Dexter's taxi in the street with the engine running.
After several minutes, the taxi slowly moved forward and
collided with the back of a parked vehicle. Solis went
outside to investigate and found Dexter sitting in the
driver's seat, bleeding. Solis opened the driver's
door, placed the taxi in park, and called 911. Officer
Phelan, the first officer to respond to the scene, arrived at
4:15 A.M. He encountered Solis standing in the street and
observed Dexter unconscious in the driver's seat, still
restrained by his seatbelt. Officer Phelan observed that
Dexter had been shot several times and had no pulse. The
medical examiner later determined that Dexter was shot six
times in his head and upper body. The medical examiner
testified that the bullets were fired from behind Dexter at
an intermediate close range. Spent shell casings and bullet
fragments found at the crime scene were consistent with
bullets fired from a semi-automatic handgun. No. money was
found at the crime scene, except for sixty-two cents found in
Police investigators subsequently discovered footprints in
the mud consistent with someone traveling [a]way from the
taxi, through a fenced backyard, and toward the street
neighboring Sunrise Pass. The taxi company provided a
recording of the phone call placed by Dexter's final
customer requesting taxi service from Foss Meadows Drive. On
the recording, the caller identified himself as “Tyrone
Callahan.” Police eventually tracked the phone number
of the caller to a cell phone registered to Marsheila
Williams and used by her son, Carnel Walker.
Walker testified that he and several friends, including Hunt,
went to a nightclub on the night of October 9, 2011. . . .
Several hours later, Savawn Kyle gave Hunt and Terrance Scott
a ride to Scott's home. Upon arriving at Scott's
home, Hunt asked Kyle to take him to Walker's home. . . .
Kyle . . . dropped Hunt off at Walker's home. Hunt
knocked on the front door and spoke with Walker in the front
yard. Walker refused to allow Hunt to sleep at his house
because Walker's mother had a policy prohibiting
overnight guests. Walker gave Hunt the phone number for a
taxi and allowed Hunt to use his cell phone. Walker testified
that Hunt called for a taxi using the name
“Tyrone.” Before the taxi arrived, Walker went
back inside to sleep, but instructed Hunt to leave his cell
phone inside and lock the door behind him.
The next morning, police contacted Williams and asked her
come to the police station to discuss a homicide
investigation. Williams relayed this information to Walker
and then went to the police station. While she was away,
Walker buried his cell phone in a neighbor's backyard.
Walker subsequently consented to an interview with police
detectives and told them that Hunt called him after leaving
his house and stated that he had killed someone. Walker also
told police that he observed that Hunt had a black
semi-automatic handgun on the morning of the murder. At
trial, Walker remembered telling police the information, but
could no longer recall whether the information was true.
Walker subsequently led police to his buried cell phone. He
testified that he buried the phone because he was scared
after learning that his mother was being questioned regarding
Hunt's grandparents' home is located on the street
behind Sunrise Pass, the site of the murder. Hunt's
grandfather, William Bell, told police that Hunt knocked on
his door during the 4:00 A.M. hour on October 10, 2011. Bell
allowed Hunt into the house where he went to sleep. Bell
testified that at the time, he heard police sirens and a
helicopter and could see flashing emergency lights on the
neighboring street. Bell subsequently allowed investigators
to search Hunt's room, but they found nothing connecting
Hunt to the crime scene. Police did, however, recover a
latent fingerprint on the exterior of the taxi matching
Hunt's fingerprint. Hunt consented to an interview with
police, but denied that he had been in a taxi on the morning
of the murder, claiming that he had received a ride home from
his girlfriend, Raquel Fumbanks. During the interview,
investigators asked Hunt to pronounce several street names,
including “Callaghan.” Immediately thereafter,
Hunt requested to terminate the interview. At trial, Fumbanks
denied that she ever gave Hunt a ride home. After listening
to the recording of the phone call requesting taxi service,
she identified the voice of “Tyrone Calla[g]han”
as that of Hunt.
Hunt v. State, No. 04-12-00689-CR, 2014 WL 2443812,
at *1-2 (Tex. App.─San Antonio 2014, pet. ref d).
Petitioner did not testify at his trial.
conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, and
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused his petition for
discretionary review on November 5, 2014. Hunt v.
State, No. PD-0787-14 (ECF No. 8-9). Petitioner sought a
state writ of habeas corpus, alleging he was denied the
effective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The
state trial court made findings of fact and conclusions of
law, and recommended the writ be denied. (ECF No. 9-18 at
162-188 & ECF No. 9-19 at 1-16). The Court of Criminal
Appeals denied the writ on the findings of the trial court.
(ECF No. 9-7).
signed the instant federal petition on September 28, 2017.
(ECF No. 1 at 10). In his Amended Petition, Petitioner
asserts he was denied the effective assistance of trial and
appellate counsel. Respondent allows the petition is timely
and asserts one of Petitioner's claims is procedurally
barred. (ECF No. 7 at 2).
Standard of Review
federal habeas petition is governed by the heightened
standard of review provided by the AEDPA, codified at 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Under § 2254(d), a petitioner may
not obtain federal habeas corpus relief on any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, unless
the adjudication of that claim either “resulted in a
decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ”
or resulted in a decision based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the state court proceeding. Brown v. Payton, 544
U.S. 133, 141 (2005). This intentionally difficult standard
stops just short of imposing a complete bar on federal court
relitigation of claims already rejected in state proceedings.
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011)
(citing Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664 (1996)).
federal habeas court's inquiry into unreasonableness
should always be objective rather than subjective, with a
focus on whether the state court's application of clearly
established federal law was “objectively
unreasonable” and not whether it was incorrect or
erroneous. McDaniel v. Brown, 558 U.S. 120, 132-33
(2010); Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520-21
(2003). Even a strong case for relief does not mean the state
court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable, regardless
of whether the federal habeas court would have reached a
different conclusion. Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
Instead, a petitioner must show the state court's
decision was objectively unreasonable, a “substantially
higher threshold.” Schriro v. Landrigan, 550
U.S. 465, 473 (2007); Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S.
63, 75-76 (2003). As long as “fairminded jurists could
disagree” on the correctness of the state court's
decision, a state court's determination that a claim
lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief.
Richter, 562 U.S. at 101 (citing Yarborough v.
Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). In other words, to
obtain federal habeas relief on a claim previously