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Little v. State

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

August 1, 2014

BOBBY LEON LITTLE, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, Respondent.

ORDER

FRANK D. WHITNEY, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 5), and on Petitioner's Motion to Amend/Correct Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, (Doc. No. 8).

I. BACKGROUND

On August 23, 2010, Bobby Leon Little, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, was found guilty by a jury in Anson County Superior Court of second-degree murder in case number 08 CRS 51033. (Doc. No. 6-21 at 67: Ex. 13). After determining Petitioner was a Prior Record Level IV offender, the trial court sentenced Petitioner in the presumptive range to 240 to 297 months imprisonment. (Id. at 68-72). Petitioner was represented by Attorney W. Terry Sherill at trial. Petitioner appealed and was represented by Attorney Geoffrey W. Hosford. (Id. at 80). On September 6, 2011, the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction in an unpublished opinion. State v. Little, 215 N.C.App. 392 (2011).

Petitioner did not immediately seek further appellate review. Over a year later, on September 24, 2012, Petitioner filed in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court a "Motion to Extend Time to File MAR & State Habeas Petition, " which the North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed by order entered September 26, 2012, and which the North Carolina Supreme Court denied by order entered December 12, 2012. (Doc. Nos. 6-24, 6-25: Exs. 16-17). Petitioner also filed with the North Carolina Supreme Court a petition for writ of certiorari ("PWC") on October 4, 2012, and a petition for discretionary review ("PDR") on October 9, 2012. See (Doc. Nos. 6-26; 6-27: Exs. 18-19). By order entered December 12, 2012, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied the PDR, and by order entered December 12, 2012, and certified December 18, 2012, the court denied the PWC. (Id.).

On January 15, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for appropriate relief ("MAR") with the Anson County Superior Court. (Doc. No. 6-28: Ex. 20). By order filed February 20, 2013, the MAR was denied. (Doc No. 6-29: Ex. 21). Petitioner did not file a PWC seeking appellate review of the denial of his MAR. Petitioner placed the petition in the prison system for mailing on January 20, 2014, and it was stamp-filed in this Court on February 4, 2014. (Doc. No. 1 at 1). On July 1, 2014, Respondent filed the pending motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 5). On July 2, 2014, this Court entered an Order pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison , 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), granting Petitioner fourteen days to respond to the summary judgment motion. (Doc. No. 7). Petitioner filed a response on July 15, 2014. (Doc. No. 8). In the response, Petitioner also seeks to amend the petition to substitute North Carolina Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry as Respondent. Petitioner sets forth the following, alleged grounds for relief in the petition: (1) that his statements to law enforcement on June 21, 2008, were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and (2) that the State's witnesses who moved the victim's body before he died could have caused the victim's death. (Doc. No. 1 at 5; 7).

The North Carolina Court of Appeals summarized the facts as follows:

On 20 June 2008, defendant's brother-in-law Roger Rorie ("Rorie") and William Chandler Thompson ("Thompson") picked up defendant and drove to various locations in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The three men consumed alcohol and socialized during this time. Eventually, they returned to Rorie's automobile in order to drive home.
While they were traveling back to their respective homes, defendant told Thompson that he "didn't appreciate [Thompson] calling [defendant's] wife [a] name." Defendant and Thompson began arguing in a heated manner until Rorie intervened. Defendant later tried to reinitiate the argument, but Thompson ignored him.
When the men arrived in Thompson's driveway, their earlier argument escalated into a physical altercation in the back seat of Rorie's automobile. When the altercation ended, defendant exited the vehicle and began walking towards the road to his home. Suddenly, defendant shouted "hey" and then fired a shot at Thompson, striking him in the chest. Defendant then ran back towards his home, yelling "Come on, M-F, come on." Thompson died as a result of the gunshot wound.
Sergeant Jimmy Williams ("Sgt.Williams"), Deputy Mike Boger ("Deputy Boger"), and Deputy Josh Beam ("Deputy Beam") of the Anson County Sheriff's Office ("the Sheriff's Office") responded to the shooting. When Sgt. Williams arrived, a male eyewitness informed him that defendant had shot Thompson and returned to his home. Sgt. Williams and Deputy Boger then went to defendant's home.
Sgt. Williams knocked on defendant's door and asked for defendant. Defendant came outside and Sgt. Williams placed him in handcuffs and asked what happened. Defendant responded, "I was tired of him beating on me." Sgt. Williams advised defendant to not say anything else about the shooting. Sgt. Williams next asked defendant if he had any weapons on him. Defendant replied, "No, I threw it behind the building, " and then led officers to the gun's location. Deputy Boger then sat with defendant while they waited for another officer to take defendant to the Sheriff's Office. While they were waiting, defendant continued to speak about the incident, despite warnings from Deputy Boger that he should not discuss the incident further.
At the Sheriff's Office, defendant was interrogated by Special Agent Justin Godfrey ("Agent Godfrey") of the State Bureau of Investigation. Prior to speaking with defendant about the shooting, Agent Godfrey informed defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant made several ambiguous statements to Agent Godfrey regarding his right to an attorney. Nonetheless, defendant executed a written waiver of his Miranda rights and allowed Agent Godfrey to interrogate him regarding the shooting. The entire exchange between defendant and Agent Godfrey was recorded.
Defendant was subsequently indicted for first degree murder. On 11 March 2010, defendant filed a motion to suppress, inter alia, his statements to Agent Godfrey. After a hearing, the trial ...

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