United States District Court, D. Nevada
ROBERT C. JONES, District Judge.
This habeas corpus action is brought by Ramiro Galicia, a Nevada prisoner serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, for the murder of Jazmin Gonzalez,  his estranged domestic partner and the mother of his eight-year-old son. Galicia's federal habeas corpus action is before this court on its merits. The court will deny the petition, and will deny Galicia a certificate of appealability in all respects.
Factual Background and Procedural History
As Galicia's conviction was upon his guilty plea before trial, the facts regarding the murder have not been fully developed. However, the record reflects that the State alleged - and introduced evidence at Galicia's sentencing to show - that on November 19, 2006, Galicia, with the help of a co-conspirator, rented a room at the Horizon Hotel and Casino, in Stateline, Nevada, where Gonzalez was employed, and hid and waited overnight in the room, which he knew Gonzalez would eventually be cleaning, and then killed her with a ball-peen hammer and a knife after she entered to clean the room. See Exhibit 12, pp. 19-23 (ECF No. 13-12, pp. 20-24) (statement of prosecutor at March 26, 2007, arraignment and plea); Exhibit 13, pp. 18-32 (ECF No. 13-13, pp. 19-33) (testimony of lead investigator at June 4, 2007, sentencing). The State alleged that Galicia took the hammer, knives, duct tape, and a pair of scissors to the hotel room. See Exhibit 12, pp. 19-23 (ECF No. 13-12, pp. 20-24); Exhibit 13, p. 35 (ECF No. 13-13, p. 36); Exhibit 14, pp. 72-73 (ECF No. 13-14, pp. 12-13) (argument of prosecutor at sentencing). According to the State, as part of Galicia's well-planned scheme, his co-conspirator gave him a ride to the hotel and registered for the room to hide Galicia's identity, and then Galicia went to the room and hid and waited. See Exhibit 12, pp. 19-23 (ECF No. 13-12, pp. 20-24); Exhibit 13, pp. 35, 43 (ECF No. 13-13, pp. 36, 44). The autopsy showed that Gonzalez suffered 46 stab wounds, 14 incised wounds, and two blunt-force trauma injuries to her skull, evidently from being struck in the head with the hammer. See Exhibit 13, pp. 51-61 (ECF No. 13-13, pp. 52-62) (statements of prosecutor at sentencing regarding autopsy report); see also Exhibit 14, pp. 72-73 (ECF No. 13-14, pp. 12-13). Gonzalez was 22 years old when she was killed; she and Galicia had become romantically involved some eight or nine years before her death, and they had a son soon after their relationship began. See Exhibit 13, pp. 17-18 (ECF No. 13-13, pp. 18-19).
On November 20, 2006, Galicia was charged with first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and in violation of an extended order for protection against domestic violence, first-degree kidnapping, and conspiracy to violate the protective order. Exhibit 2.
Pursuant to plea negotiations, the State dropped the kidnapping and conspiracy charges, and filed an information charging Galicia with a single count of first-degree murder in violation of the protective order. Exhibit 9. The State also agreed not to seek the death penalty, and not to seek a deadly-weapon enhancement. See Exhibit 10 (plea agreement); Exhibit 12, p. 6 (ECF No. 13-12, p. 7). Galicia pled guilty to first-degree murder in violation of the protective order, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder, and a consecutive prison sentence of two to five years for the violation of the protective order. See Exhibits 10 and 15 (judgment of conviction). The judgment of conviction was entered on June 7, 2007. See Exhibit 15. Galicia did not appeal from the judgment of conviction.
On June 5, 2008, Galicia filed, in the state district court, a post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and on September 15, 2008, he filed a supplement to that petition. Exhibits 23, 30. On June 29, 2009, following an evidentiary hearing, the state district court denied the petition. Exhibit 35; see also Exhibit 33 (transcript of evidentiary hearing). Galicia appealed. See Exhibit 34. The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed on November 8, 2010. Exhibit 44.
Galicia initiated this federal habeas action on January 11, 2011. The court appointed counsel to represent him. See Order entered April 1, 2011 (ECF No. 6). With counsel, Galicia filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus on October 27, 2011 (ECF No. 12).
Respondents then filed a motion to dismiss (ECF No. 21). On September 12, 2012, the court granted that motion in part and denied it in part; the court dismissed one of Galicia's four grounds for relief (Ground 3) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Order entered September 12, 2012 (ECF No. 26). Respondents then filed an answer (ECF No. 27), responding to the three remaining claims in Galicia's first amended petition (Grounds 1, 2, and 4), and Galicia filed a reply (ECF No. 29).
Standard of Review
Because this action was initiated after April 24, 1996, the amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 enacted as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) apply. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Van Tran v. Lindsey, 212 F.3d 1143, 1148 (9th Cir.2000), overruled on other grounds by Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003).
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the standard of review under AEDPA:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -
(1) 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
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
A state court decision is contrary to clearly established Supreme Court precedent, within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254, "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases" or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme Court] and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the Supreme Court's] precedent." Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 73 (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000), and citing Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)).
A state court decision is an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent, within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), "if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 75 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413). The "unreasonable application" clause requires the state court decision to be more than incorrect or erroneous; the state court's application of clearly established law must be objectively unreasonable. Id. ( quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 409).
The analysis under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) looks to the law that was clearly established by United States Supreme Court precedents at the time of the state court's decision. Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003).
With respect to questions of fact, "a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct, " and the petitioner "shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).