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Barcella v. Carlin

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 12, 2014

GERALD ANGELO BARCELLA, Petitioner,
v.
TEREMA CARLIN, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

CANDY W. DALE, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is Respondent's Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, which is now fully briefed. (Dkts. 20, 24, 26.) Both parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings in this case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 18.)

Having reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court finds the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Therefore, the Court will decide this matter on the written motions, briefs, and record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order, granting in part and denying in part the Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Idaho Court of Appeals set forth the factual background of this case in State v. Barcella , 16 P.3d 288 (Idaho Ct. App. 2000):

The state's evidence at trial set forth the following fact scenario: On the evening of April 2, 1995, Barcella told Kenneth Thrift-his drinking buddy for the evening, Virginia Smeltzer-the bartender at the Watering Hole bar in Coeur d'Alene, and Brad Bakie that he intended to kill Smith, the elderly manager of the Harmony House apartments where Barcella resided.
Returning to Barcella's room at the Harmony House apartments after the Watering Hole closed, Barcella and Thrift noisily entered the building and went into Barcella's one-room apartment, across the hall from Smith's room. There, they continued to drink accompanied by the noise of the radio and television. Smith, through the door, told Barcella to turn the volume down. Barcella begrudgingly complied. Some time later, while Thrift returned to his room next door to get some cigarettes and more beer, Barcella entered Smith's room and bludgeoned him in the head with a pulaski [axe].When Thrift came back, about five minutes later, Barcella was at Smith's door, across the hall, wiping off the doorknob with his bandana.
Back in Barcella's room, Barcella told Thrift that he had killed Smith. The two continued drinking beer until about 4:30 a.m. and then left to get breakfast at Denny's Restaurant. From there, Barcella called his girlfriend Rikki Bobo. He told her to get over to Denny's and that he had killed Smith. Once she arrived, Barcella again told Bobo and Thrift that he killed Smith by striking him in the head three times with a pick ax.
After visiting with Barcella and Thrift at Denny's for nearly an hour, Bobo returned to Barcella's room at Harmony House. There, she noticed that Barcella's pulaski was not in his room. When Barcella arrived, Bobo, with Barcella's approval, wrote out a note addressed to Smith requesting a receipt for Barcella's rent payment. Barcella told her that the note was a good idea because it would make the police believe that Barcella thought Smith was still alive. Bobo slipped the note under Smith's door.
Later that afternoon, Peter Cooper, the owner of the Harmony House apartments, discovered Smith's body. Smith had several large head wounds and smaller wounds in his chest. A pulaski was found under a piece of carpet stuffed under Smith's bed. During the homicide investigation, officers discovered that Barcella, a convicted felon, possessed firearms in his room. While in jail on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, Barcella was charged with first degree murder for the killing of Smith, I.C. §§ 18-4001-18-4003.
At the preliminary hearing, Robert Agrifolio, [1] a convicted defendant in an unrelated burglary case, testified that in September of 1995 he occupied a jail cell adjacent to Barcella's cell in the Latah County Jail. After identifying Barcella, Agrifolio testified that, while in the jail's recreation yard, Barcella told him he hit Smith in the head with an ax because he believed Smith had killed his puppy. Agrifolio was cross-examined extensively about his prior convictions, his conversations with Barcella, and his reason for testifying. Agrifolio testified that he was under subpoena and denied being a jailhouse snitch or getting any benefit from testifying against Barcella.
Barcella was bound over to district court for trial on the charge of murder in the first degree. At trial, the state called twenty-two witnesses including investigating officers, medical experts, the Watering Hole bartender, the apartment owner, several apartment residents, Bobo, Thrift and two jailhouse informants-Agrifolio and George Lane.
Before calling Thrift, the state attempted to preclude impeachment through Thrift's prior criminal convictions. In part, Barcella sought to impeach Thrift by introducing evidence of his criminal history, arguing that Thrift is per se untruthful because honest people do not get arrested ninety-four times, forty-two of which were for felonies. The trial court ruled that Thrift's only felony convictions in the last ten years were two DUIs, not crimes relevant to truth and veracity under I.R.E. 609. Thrift testified that Barcella owned a pulaski when he moved into the Harmony House apartments, that Barcella had several times threatened to kill Smith, and that he had seen Barcella wiping off Smith's doorknob with a bandana when Thrift came out of his room with more beer. Thrift also stated that Barcella admitted to killing Smith once he and Thrift returned to Barcella's room to drink more beer and, again, after he and Thrift arrived at Denny's Restaurant for breakfast early the next morning.
Bobo also testified that Barcella owned a pulaski when he moved into the Harmony House apartments. She further testified to Barcella's admissions to killing Smith and acknowledged that she had written a note about rent payment that was slipped under Smith's door to prevent police attention from focusing on Barcella. After challenging Bobo's credibility by questioning her about a plea deal on a recent DUI charge and the state's grant of immunity regarding her writing the rent payment note, Barcella also sought to inquire about her status as a jail inmate and why she was allowed to testify in civilian clothing and makeup. The court sustained the state's objection to this line of inquiry.
The state then attempted to call Agrifolio as its next witness; however, the bailiff reported that Agrifolio had told the jailers that he refused to testify. Agrifolio was brought into court from the jail and questioned. After he indicated that he did not want to testify, the court appointed counsel for Agrifolio so that he could obtain legal advice before finally deciding whether or not to testify. A day later, Agrifolio's counsel informed the court that Agrifolio would not testify. The district court determined that Agrifolio was unavailable. Four days later, the court, over Barcella's objection, permitted Agrifolio's preliminary hearing testimony to be read into the record.
The state's twentieth witness, Lane, also a jailhouse witness, testified that Barcella had admitted to killing his apartment manager by hitting him in the back of the head because the manager was nagging him about making too much noise. Lane testified that Barcella said a witness, his drinking buddy, had seen him come out of the manager's apartment on the night of the murder. Lane testified that Barcella was not worried about being prosecuted because in the past he had shot a couple of people and was never convicted. Barcella immediately objected and moved for a mistrial on the grounds that the state has elicited testimony about prior bad acts in violation of I.R.E. 404. The district court denied the motion for a mistrial and instructed the jury to disregard Lane's last statement.
Barcella also sought a mistrial on the ground that the state made a late disclosure of the first twenty-seven pages of the transcript of Bobo's statement to the police. The court denied the motion, suggesting Barcella could avoid any prejudice caused by late disclosure by recalling Bobo as a witness. Barcella declined to do so.
The trial court denied Barcella's motion for a judgment of acquittal made at the close of the state's case. During Barcella's case-in-chief, Barcella did not testify. After presenting several character witnesses in defense, Barcella sought to introduce testimony from Kootenai County Public Defender's Office Investigator Mark Durant. Durant was to testify that Agrifolio had recently made several unsolicited telephone calls to him, stating that he-Agrifolio-had been pressured into testifying at the preliminary hearing and, that when asked if his preliminary hearing testimony had been truthful, Agrifolio had said he would "take the Fifth Amendment on that." The state objected and the court, without explanation, disallowed Durant's testimony.

16 P.3d at 291-93 (State's Lodging B-4, pp. 1-4.)

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Petitioner included nine claims in his Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Dkt. 9.) The Court previously dismissed Claims (8), (9), and (10) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Dkt. 13.) Petitioner's remaining claims are as follows:

(1) He was denied the Sixth Amendment right to testify at trial;
(2) His trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately communicate with him;
(3) He was deprived of his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights to confront and adequately cross-examine three of the State's witnesses;
(4) His Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when a state trial witness blurted out that Petitioner had committed two prior killings, and the trial court denied a motion for a mistrial;
(5) His Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the state did not disclose until trial a transcript of a police interview with a state's witness;
(6) His Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the trial court denied his post-trial motion for a new trial;
(7) His Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the trial court imposed an excessive sentence; and
(11) The cumulative effect of the evidentiary errors at trial violated his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY DISMISSAL

In the Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, Respondent asserts that Claims (2), (4), (6), and (7) are procedurally defaulted. The ...


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