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Ali v. Hooks

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

July 13, 2018

ABDULKADIR SHARIF ALI, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC A. HOOKS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          L. PATRICK AULD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the “Petition”). (Docket Entry 1.) Respondent has moved for summary judgment. (Docket Entries 4, 5.) For the reasons that follow, the Court should grant Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         On August 8, 2014, a jury in the Superior Court of Guilford County found Petitioner, along with his co-defendant Ali Mahamed Sheikh, guilty of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and first degree burglary in cases 13 CRS 100094, 100098, 10099, and 14 CRS 24118. (See Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 1, 2, 4-6; see also Docket Entry 5-6 at 31-38; Docket Entry 5-13 at 815-28.)[1] The trial court sentenced Petitioner and his co-defendant Sheikh to identical sentences of (1) 59 to 83 months in prison for their respective, consolidated robbery convictions; (2) 59 to 83 months, served consecutively, for their respective burglary convictions; and (3) 23 to 40 months, served consecutively, for their respective assault convictions. (See Docket Entry 1, ¶ 3; see also Docket Entry 5-6 at 41-46, 51-56; Docket Entry 5-13 at 840-41, 853-54).

         Petitioner appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and retained appellate counsel. (See Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 8, 9, 16(e); Docket Entry 5-6 at 65-66, 68.) The North Carolina Court of Appeals found no error in Petitioner's convictions and sentences, State v. Sheikh, No. COA-15-688, 786 S.E.2d 433 (table), 2016 WL 1744651, at *2 (May 3, 2016) (unpublished), the North Carolina Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for discretionary review (“PDR”), State v. Sheikh, 369 N.C. 39 (2016), [2] and the United States Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for a writ of certiorari, Ali v. North Carolina, ___U.S.___, 137 S.Ct. 1218 (2017).

         Next, Petitioner, still proceeding through appellate counsel, filed a MAR with the trial court. (Docket Entry 5-12.) While Petitioner's MAR remained pending with the trial court, Petitioner, through counsel, instituted this action via his Petition. (Docket Entry 1.) Thereafter, Respondent filed the instant Motion and Supporting Brief. (Docket Entries 4, 5.) Shortly thereafter, the trial court denied Petitioner's MAR. (Docket Entry 9-1.)[3]Petitioner subsequently responded in opposition to Respondent's instant Motion (Docket Entries 6, 8, 9), and Respondent replied (Docket Entry 10).

         II. Facts

         On direct appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals summarized the trial evidence as follows:

On 19 November 2013, [the victim] traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, on a business trip. He left his hotel room that evening and went to Christie's Cabaret, where he had a few drinks and paid for private dances with the club's employees. After spending much of his time with one of the club's dancers, Jessica Salinas, he invited her to his hotel room after she got off work. While Ms. Salinas was talking with [the victim] at the club, she noticed he had a lot of cash with him.
After their conversation ended, Salinas discussed with two of her co-workers, Sommer Painter and Heaven Shoffner, her intention to rob [the victim] in his hotel room after she got off work. Painter told Salinas she knew someone who could rob [the victim] and split the money with them. Painter testified that this person was [co-]defendant Sheikh who was her drug dealer.
After the three dancers left work, they went to Painter's apartment, where they arrived around 3:15 a.m. or shortly thereafter. Shoffner eventually left with Salinas to drive Salinas to [the victim's] hotel room. [Co-d]efendant Sheikh arrived later with [Petitioner], whom he introduced to Painter as his cousin. Painter came up with a plan to drive to [the victim's] hotel room, where Salinas would let the [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner] in to commit the robbery. After about 10 or 15 minutes had passed, Shoffner returned to Painter's apartment. Painter and [co-]defendant Sheikh then drove in his car to [the victim's] hotel, with [Petitioner] following in a different car. Painter and Salinas were communicating through text messages at that time, planning for the robbery upon [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner's] arrival at [the victim's] hotel.
When Salinas first arrived at [the victim's] hotel, she went to a side entrance where she propped a door open to allow [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner] to enter. Once inside [the victim's] room, she went to the bathroom to exchange text messages with Painter, letting her know that she was ready to let [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner] into the hotel room. When [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner] arrived at the hotel, they proceeded to [the victim's] room, and Salinas came out of the bathroom to unlatch the door. The two men, with [co-]defendant Sheikh wearing a clown mask, but [Petitioner] undisguised, then pushed their way into the hotel room. Although the room was dark, [the victim] testified that he could see [co-defendant Sheikh and Petitioner] standing next to the bed where he was laying. [The victim] claimed he heard a gun click, causing him to jump off the bed and tussle with the man with the gun. During the struggle, the man hit [the victim] in the head with the gun, causing the clip of the gun to fall on the floor. [The victim] managed to get away to the hotel lobby where he told the receptionist to call the police - he left a trail of blood from his hotel room. Because [the victim] had hidden most of his cash inside his boot, the two assailants only managed to take a duffel bag containing [the victim's] clothes from the room.
After the robbery, [co-]defendant[] Sheikh and [Petitioner] ran out of the hotel, but [Petitioner] fell and “dropped a bunch of stuff” on his way to the car in which he had arrived. That car sped off as soon as he jumped inside. [Co-d]efendant Sheikh, “covered in blood, ” got into his car where Painter was waiting. Once inside the car, he told Painter that he had struck [the victim] in the head with his gun, causing the clip to fall out. Salinas meanwhile exited the hotel and hid in some nearby woods until Shoffner picked her up. When Salinas arrived back at Painter's apartment, [co-]defendant Sheikh was there with a bloody mask and a duffel bag containing clothes.
After police investigated the incident, they determined that Salinas was the dancer who had visited [the victim's] hotel room. After arresting and questioning Salinas, she implicated Painter and Shoffner, and the two other women were also eventually arrested. Each dancer was charged with armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. During their interrogations, Salinas, Painter, and Shoffner were able to collectively identify [co-]defendant[] Sheikh and [Petitioner] in photo lineups. As part of the women's plea arrangements, each dancer pled guilty to only conspiracy to commit armed robbery. [Co-d]efendant[] Sheikh and [Petitioner] were also eventually arrested and indicted for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury [], robbery with a dangerous weapon, first degree burglary, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Sheikh, 2016 WL 1744651, at *1-2.

         III. Grounds for Relief

         Petitioner presents two grounds for habeas relief. (See Docket Entry 1, ...


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