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Demby v. Pierce

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 25, 2014


Demetrius Demby. Pro se petitioner.

Gegory E. Smith, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.


GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.

Pending before the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner Demetrius Demby ("Demby"). (D.I. 1; D.I. 10) For the reasons discussed, the court will deny the petition.


The facts leading to Demby's arrest and conviction are as follows:

On April 15, 2006, Demby and another person were traveling westbound on Fourth Street. Two Wilmington police officers, driving in the opposite direction on Fourth Street, saw that Demby was not wearing a seatbelt. The officers reversed direction and began to follow him. Officer David Ledesma ran the license plate and determined that the car was registered to Demby and that Demby had a suspended license. Officer Ledesma later explained that they had planned to stop him regardless because he was not wearing his seatbelt. At that time, one of the officers saw Demby "make a movement towards the middle console" before coming to a complete stop four blocks later.
Officer Ledesma approached the driver's side window and asked Demby for his license, registration, and insurance. Demby told him that he was not sure whether his license was suspended or not. After determining that Demby was driving the vehicle, Officer Ledesma returned to his car and ran his name through DELJIS. He discovered that Demby had outstanding capiases and his license had been suspended. The officers arrested Demby and searched his vehicle incident to that arrest. The other officer, Corporal Donald Cramer, found twenty one bags of a chunky white substance of what he believed was crack cocaine. Demby waived his Miranda rights and admitted that the drugs were his and that his passenger had nothing to do with them.

Demby v. State, 945 A.2d 593 (Table), 2008 WL 534273 (Del. Feb. 28, 2008). Corporal Cramer field tested the drugs and determined them to be cocaine. The weight of the drugs and the packaging was 4.9 grams. Id.

On May 30, 2006, Demby was indicted on charges of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, maintaining a vehicle for keeping controlled substances, and driving without a seatbelt. (D.I. 18) In September 2006, Demby filed a motion to suppress the drug evidence, which the Superior Court denied after holding an evidentiary hearing. In April 2007, a Superior Court jury convicted Demby of all charges. Demby was sentenced as an habitual offender to natural life at Level V for the possession with intent to deliver cocaine conviction, and to one year at Level V, suspended for one year at Level II, for the maintaining a vehicle conviction. A twenty-five dollar fine was imposed for the seat belt charge. Id.

In March 2009, Demby filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). (D.I. 18) The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on October 29, 2009, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision. See Demby v. State, 11 A.3d 226 (Table), 2010 WL 5342969 (Del. Dec. 21, 2010).


A. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") "to reduce delays in the execution of state and federal criminal sentences... and to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism." Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 206 (2003). Pursuant to AEDPA, a federal court may consider a habeas petition filed by a state prisoner only "on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). AEDPA imposes procedural requirements and standards for analyzing the merits of a habeas petition in order to "prevent federal habeas retrials' and to ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under law." Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002).

B. Exhaustion and Procedural Default

Absent exceptional circumstances, a federal court cannot grant habeas relief unless the petitioner has exhausted all means of available relief under state law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842-44 (1999); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). AEDPA states, in pertinent part:

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 ...

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