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Blake v. Pierce

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 25, 2014

ANDREW P. BLAKE, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

Andrew P. Blake. Pro se petitioner.

Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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 Andrew P. Blake ("Blake"). (D.I. 2; D.I. 12) For the reasons discussed, the court will deny the petition.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

As summarized by the Delaware Supreme Court, the facts leading to Blake's arrest and conviction are as follows:

New York Police Department ("NYPD") detectives, accompanied by a Wilmington Police Department detective and uniformed officer, responded at about noon to Apartment No. 5 on the second floor of an apartment building in Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington officers had information that an individual known to them as "Quest" (Blake) resided there. The NYPD detectives were seeking Quest because he had been identified by witnesses as the shooter in an incident on New Year's Eve in Manhattan where three people were shot and wounded.
Several officers went to the front door of the apartment while others covered the outside of the building. The officers at the door knocked and identified themselves as police officers. They could hear movement inside the apartment, and a baby's crying that seemed to be muffled. No one responded to the door as officers continued to knock over a twenty to thirty minute period. The Wilmington detective and an NYPD detective left to go get a search warrant.
While the officers were on their way to apply for a search warrant, one of the NYPD detectives saw an individual in the apartment, later identified as Blake, raise the window screen in one of the windows. Blake pointed a handgun at him and challenged the officers to shoot him. The detective relayed by cell phone to the officers at the front door of the apartment that the person inside had a gun. The detectives who had left to get a search warrant were called back to the scene. The NYPD detective outside saw Blake crash through the window and attempt to escape. He ran about two blocks before police apprehended him.
Meanwhile, the officers at the door heard the muffled crying of a baby in the apartment during the incident. The NYPD detective at the front door testified that after he heard a crash like a window breaking, he heard a sound like a "boom" and then the baby's crying turn into "blood curdling" screaming. The detective also heard a foot pursuit over the Wilmington officer's radio. The detective testified that the officers at the front door were concerned for the infant's safety, forced open the door, and entered the apartment. They found the infant on the floor. The officers also performed a safety sweep of the apartment and saw what appeared to be a small amount of crack cocaine and other drug paraphernalia on the floor near the infant.
After Blake was arrested and the apartment secured, the officers left and obtained a search warrant. Part of the application for the warrant included what the officers had seen in plain view when they performed the safety sweep of the apartment. When the officers executed the warrant, they found a handgun hidden in a toilet tank and additional controlled substances and paraphernalia in the apartment.

Blake v. State, 954 A.2d 315, 316-I7 (Del. 2008).

In February 2007, Blake was indicted on charges of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felon (two counts), possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, aggravated menacing (two counts), resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of keeping controlled substances, and criminal mischief. See Blake v. State, 12 A.3d 1153 (Table), 2011 WL 443995, at *I (Del. Feb. 8, 2011). Blake filed a motion to suppress evidence, which the Superior Court denied after holding a hearing. Blake then waived his right to a jury trial, and the trial proceeded in front of the Superior Court judge. Prior to trial, the State entered a nolle prosequi on one count each of aggravated menacing, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession with intent to deliver, and criminal mischief. The court found Blake guilty of aggravated menacing, use of a dwelling, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia. In November 2007, the Superior Court sentenced Blake, effective January 8, 2007, to an aggregate of sixteen years at Level V incarceration, suspended after eleven for two years at decreasing levels of supervision. Id. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Blake's convictions and sentence on direct appeal. See Blake, 954 A.2d 315.

In June 2009, Blake filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision. See State v. Blake, 2010 WL 2501524 (Del. Super. Ct. May 27, 2010); Blake v. State, 2011 WL 443995 (Del. Feb. 8, 2011).

II. GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES

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 ...


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