4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
The district court properly dismissed a habeas petitioner’s claim of actual innocence. He was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
Here, the totality of the evidence fails to meet the exacting standard for actual innocence. None of the three identifying witnesses in this case – two of whom knew the petitioner personally – have ever expressed reluctance or uncertainty about their testimony at trial. The police reports of a third shooting victim and witness statements identifying additional shooters don’t establish the petitioner’s entitlement to the procedural gateway of actual innocence. The evidence at trial already indicated that there were multiple shooters and much gunfire at the scene (in addition to those shots fired by the petitioner).
Because none of the new evidence identified by Hayes contradicts the evidence of his guilt presented at trial, the petitioner has failed to demonstrate that in light of new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would have voted to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Categories: Daily Dockets