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Bryan K. Wilson v. Terry O'brien

June 27, 2012

BRYAN K. WILSON, PETITIONER,
v.
TERRY O'BRIEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and respondent's response to the Court's order to show cause. For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied, and this action will be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner "was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder while armed and of several weapons charges in connection with the death of his wife Inga Wilson." Wilson v. United States, 995 A.2d 174, 177 (D.C. 2010). The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions on direct appeal, see id., and issued its mandate on May 28, 2010. Resp't's Opp'n to Pet'r's Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Resp't's Opp'n"), Ex. A (Event Docket entry dated 05/28/2010). Petitioner filed a pro se motion to recall the mandate on August 11, 2010, id., Ex. A (Event Docket entry dated 08/17/2010), in which he raised one claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The Court of Appeals summarily denied the motion on September 9, 2010. Id., Ex. C (Order, Wilson v. United States, No. 07-CF-1097 (D.C. Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2010) (per curiam)).

Now before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus which claims ineffective assistance of appellate counsel on the direct appeal of petitioner's convictions to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. See Pet. at 5. For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Recorded Conversation of January 6, 2005

Evidence introduced at petitioner's criminal trial showed:

[O]n the afternoon of December 13, 2003, Inga Wilson was found dead in the passenger seat of her Ford Expedition, which was parked in the 3000 block of Adams Street, N.E. She had been shot four times in the head and died sometime around 12:00 a.m. on December 13, 2003. After police arrived on the scene, they discovered that both the vehicle and the decedent had been reported missing. Police contacted [petitioner] to inform him of his wife's death and later that day interviewed him to gather information regarding the decedent's death.

Wilson, 995 A.2d at 177-78. In the course of investigating the murder, Bradley Garrett, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "asked [petitioner's] long time friend, Tracy Thompson, to become an informant and to have two recorded conversations with [him] for the purpose of gaining a confession or information concerning the crime." Resp't's Opp'n, Ex. B (Appellant's Pro Se Motion to Recall Mandate) at 2. The second conversation was introduced at trial.

Tracy Thompson[] told investigators that he had given [petitioner] a gun. Agent Garrett further testified that Thompson offered to allow agents to place video and audio recording equipment in his car and to engage appellant in a conversation that investigators could record. During a recorded conversation that took place on January 6, 2005, [petitioner] denied killing his wife but told Thompson that he had thrown the gun that Thompson had given him into the Patuxent River right after the police called him to inform him that his wife's body had been found.

Wilson, 995 A.2d at 179. "Thompson repeatedly expressed dismay or anger that [petitioner] had used the gun Thompson gave him . . . to kill Inga Wilson, making both [petitioner] and Thompson targets of the police investigation." Id. at 182.

Petitioner understood Thompson's anger as "stem[ming] from [his] belief that [petitioner] had committed the crime." Resp't's Opp'n, Ex. B at 4. Early in the conversation, Thompson stated that he would "fuck [petitioner] up," id., Ex. D (Transcript of January 6, 2005 recorded conversation) at 1, a statement petitioner construed as a "threat of physical attack if [petitioner] said the wrong thing" to Thompson, id., Ex. B at 2. "Thompson . . . grabbed [him] and began punching [him] in the face and head." Id., Ex. B at 2; see Pet. at 8. Petitioner claimed that "[f]rom that point on [his] objective was to say anything that would stop any further physical abuse at the hands of the FBI informant." Resp't's Opp'n, Ex. B at 4. Specifically, he believed that Thompson "only agree[d] to stop the assualt [sic] under the condition that petitioner" offer information about his possession and disposal of the gun. Id.

The government relied on the recorded conversation "to prove that Thompson gave [petitioner] a gun a week before Inga Wilson's murder." Wilson, 995 A.2d at 179. From this and other evidence, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner's convictions, finding that "there was an array of evidence from which the jury could reasonably infer, and ...


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