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Marrero v. NFN Stevenson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 30, 2016

Jaime Marrero, Petitioner,
v.
NFN Stevenson, Warden of Broad River Correctional Institution, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER

Margaret B. Seymour, Senior United States District Judge.

Petitioner Jaime Marrero is an inmate in custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Petitioner currently is housed at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. Petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus on February 5, 2015, alleging that he is being detained unlawfully. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner and several accomplices entered a convenience store on September 28, 2004, for the purpose of robbing the premises. Petitioner shot and killed the store’s clerk during the course of the incident. The events were captured on a surveillance videotape.

Petitioner was indicted in June 2006 for murder, in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-10; and attempted armed robbery, in violation of S.C. Code Ann. §16-11-330(A). Petitioner faced incarceration of thirty years to life without the possibility of parole on the murder charge, and a maximum punishment of twenty years incarceration on the attempted armed robbery charge. ECF No. 18-2, 46-47. On September 22, 2008, Petitioner proceeded to trial before the Honorable Lee S. Alford. Petitioner was represented by Public Defender Douglas Strickler and Assistant Public Defender James Hunter May.

On September 25, 2008, at the urging of the trial judge, the solicitor offered Petitioner a plea deal in which the government agreed to recommend a forty year sentencing cap. Id. at 49. In addition, the solicitor agreed to work toward disposing of unrelated state charges and seeking a concurrent sentence in federal court, where Petitioner faced charges for possession with intent to distribute and distribution of five grams or more of cocaine base. ECF No. 18-2, 49-50; see United States v. Marrero, Cr. No. 3:06-0563-CMC.

The trial judge conducted a plea colloquy as follows, in relevant part:

THE COURT: Has anybody promised you anything other than that in order to get you to plead guilty?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Has anybody threatened you, coerced you or forced you to plead guilty against your will?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Are you satisfied with the manner in which your attorneys have advised and represented you in these cases?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Have you and your attorneys fully discussed the charges against you?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Have your attorneys told you the witnesses and evidence the State has available to present at trial to prove your guilt? Of course, most of them have already been presented, but there are others that they have not yet presented, but have your attorneys gone over those potential witnesses and evidence that the State has available? Have they gone over that with you?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Has your attorney discussed with you any possible legal defenses that might be available to you if you complete your trial today?
THE DEFENDANT: Excuse me?
THE COURT: Have your attorneys discussed with you any possible legal defenses that would be available to you if we continued with the trial?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Have you told your attorneys the names of any and all witnesses you know of that your attorneys could subpoena and bring to trial to assist you in your defense at your trial?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: In other words, have you told them about any witnesses you know of that would be helpful to you?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Are you today under the influence of any mind-altering substance, such as alcohol, drugs or prescription medications, which interfere with your judgment or ability to understand what you're doing in court today?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Do you have any mental, emotional, or nervous condition that interferes with your judgment or ability to understand what you’re doing in court today?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Are you pleading guilty today of your own free will?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Are you, in fact, guilty of these two charges?
(Pause)
THE DEFENDANT: Honestly, Your Honor, I - I - I am, but at - at the time when it happened, and this is the God honest - the God's honest truth, I was - I was not in my right mind. I ...

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