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United States v. Gooch

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 7, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LARRY GOOCH, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For LARRY GOOCH, also known as GOO, Defendant: Jensen Egerton Barber, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF J.E. BARBER PC, Washington, DC; Teresa Grey Kleiman, Thomas Todd Heslep, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Washington, DC; James G. Connell, III, OFFICE OF CHIEF DEFENSE COUNSEL, Washington, DC.

For USA, Plaintiff: Bernard J. Delia, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Special Proceedings Section, Washington, DC; Darlene Michele Soltys, Sherri Lee Berthrong, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC; John Philip Dominguez, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

OPINION

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ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.

Larry Gooch has filed a pro se Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his criminal convictions and sentence. The United States opposes the motion. The Court has reviewed the motion carefully and concludes tat it must be denied. Mr. Gooch's claims are without merit.

I. FACTS

Larry Gooch was a defendant in the multi-defendant prosecution of a drug

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dealing enterprise--the M Street Crew--in Washington, D.C. An investigation of the M Street Crew by the Safe Streets Task Force, a joint effort by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), began in 2002 and ended on March 16, 2004, when thirty-nine individuals were arrested in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, New York, and California. In a 159-Count Superseding Indictment filed on October 19, 2005, a Grand Jury charged Mr. Gooch and his co-defendants with, among other crimes, narcotics conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; racketeering conspiracy, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § § 1961-68; narcotics trafficking; murder and other violent crimes; and various weapons crimes. See Superseding Indictment [Dkt. 386].

The Superseding Indictment charged Mr. Gooch with four murders in connection with the M Street Crew conspiracy. See id. at 51-58, 60-61. On October 19, 2005, the Government filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Mr. Gooch for Counts 126 and 128, i.e., the murders of Yolanda Miller and Calvin Cooper. Notice of Intent to Seek Death Penalty [Dkt. 378]. The M Street Crew defendants were divided into three groups for trial. The Group One defendants, including Jonathan Franklin, the leader of the M Street Crew, George Wilson, William Robinson, William Simmons, and Joseph Blackson, went to trial and a jury found them guilty on May 25, 2006. See March 6, 2006 Minute Entry; Verdict Form as to Franklin, et al. [Dkt. 552]. The Group Two defendants, including Anthony Davis, Kenneth Cole, Elliot Fields, James Hill, Shawn Hinson, Jamal Hinson, and Regina Lenear, entered guilty pleas on December 21, 2005 and December 14, 2006. See Dec. 21, 2005 Minute Entry (guilty pleas entered as to Ms. Lenear and Messrs. Cole, Davis, Hill, Fields, and Jamal Hinson); Dec. 14, 2006 Minute Entry (guilty plea entered as to Shawn Hinson). Group Three defendants Mr. Gooch, Kenneth Dodd, Jonte Robinson, and Tommie Dorsey went to trial on January 9, 2007, but Messrs. Dodd, Robinson, and Dorsey entered guilty pleas after jury selection. See Jan. 9, 2007 Minute Entry; Jan. 17, 2007 Minute Entry (guilty pleas entered as to Messrs. Dodd, Robinson, and Dorsey). As a result, Mr. Gooch was the sole defendant at trial, and a jury found him guilty on June 1, 2007. See Verdict Form as to Mr. Gooch [Dkt. 812].

Mr. Gooch's appointed trial counsel was Thomas Heslep. After the United States announced that it might, and then that it would, seek the death penalty, Jensen Barber and James Connell, III, were appointed as " learned counsel." See 18 U.S.C. § 3005 (" Whoever is indicted for . . . [a] capital crime shall" have appointed two counsel, " of whom at least 1 shall be learned in the law applicable to capital cases." ). Mr. Heslep filed multiple pre-trial motions on behalf of Mr. Gooch, which were ultimately denied. See, e.g., Mot. to Suppress Statements [Dkt. 557]; June 14, 2006 Mot. to Sever Counts [Dkt. 565]; Mot. to Dismiss Counts One and Two [Dkt. 576]; Mot. to Strike Lurk Murder Evidence [Dkt. 577]; July 6, 2006 Mot. to Sever Counts [Dkt. 579]; Mot. to Strike Death Penalty [Dkt. 580]; Mot. to Suppress Identification Testimony [Dkt. 667]; Oct. 25, 2006 Minute Entry; Nov. 7, 2006 Mem. Op. & Order [Dkt. 692]; Mot. to Strike Graffiti Evidence [Dkt. 706]; Mot. to Allow Polygraph Cross-Examination [Dkt. 707]; Dec. 20, 2006 Mem. Op. & Order [Dkt. 712]. Counsel also made an oral motion to strike the Government's opening statement on February 7, 2007; oral motions for a mistrial on February 27, 2007 and April 25, 2007; and an oral motion

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for judgment of acquittal on May 2, 2007. For the reasons stated on the record, these motions also were denied.

On June 1, 2007, the jury convicted Mr. Gooch of narcotics conspiracy, RICO conspiracy, drug dealing, four felony murders, assault with intent to kill while armed, assault on a police officer, three violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR), 18 U.S.C. § 1959, and various gun charges. United States v. Gooch, 514 F.Supp.2d 63, 64 (D.D.C. 2007); see also Verdict Form as to Mr. Gooch.

The trial evidence showed that the M Street Crew " coordinated their drug-dealing efforts, cooperated with one another to avoid arrest and imprisonment, and maintained a reputation for violence." United States v. Gooch, 665 F.3d 1318, 1322, 398 U.S.App.D.C. 455 (D.C. Cir. 2012). Mr. Gooch served as the primary " muscle" for the M Street Crew, enforcing the gang's rules, participating in violent activities, and punishing disloyalty amongst its members. Id.

Mr. Gooch was convicted of the August 1, 2000 robbery and murders of William Cunningham and Christopher Lane. Id. at 1322-23; Verdict Form as to Mr. Gooch at 6-8. Mr. Gooch was also convicted of the February 21, 2003 murders of Calvin Cooper and Yolanda Miller. Id. at 1322-23. On the latter two murders, the jury declined to proceed to the death penalty. See Death Penalty Phase Eligibility Verdict Form [Dkt. 821].

On September 14, 2007, this Court sentenced Mr. Gooch to life imprisonment on Count 1 (narcotics conspiracy); a mandatory term of life imprisonment on Count 2 (RICO conspiracy); forty years on Count 25 (distribution of crack cocaine near a school); twenty years on Count 26 (distribution of ecstasy near a school); forty years on Count 29 (distribution of crack cocaine near a school); a mandatory term of fifteen years to life on Count 110 (first degree burglary while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 801(a), 4502); a mandatory term of thirty years to life on Count 112 (first degree felony murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2101, 4502); a mandatory term of thirty years to life on Count 113 (first degree felony murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2101, 4502); twenty years to life on Count 116 (second degree murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2102, 4502); twenty years to life on Count 117 (second degree murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2102, 4502); thirty years to life on Count 122 (assault with intent to kill while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2101, 4502); eight years on Count 123 (assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon, 22 D.C. Code § 405(b)); twenty years on Count 124 (violent crime in aid of racketeering); sixty years on Count 125 (first degree premeditated murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2101, 4502); a mandatory term of life imprisonment on Counts 126 and 128 (violent crime in aid of racketeering activity); sixty years on Count 127 (first degree premeditated murder while armed, 22 D.C. Code § § 2101, 4502); a mandatory term of five years on Count 145 (use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)); mandatory terms of twenty-five years on Counts 146 and 147 (use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)); five to fifteen years on Counts 150, 152, and 153 (possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, 22 D.C. Code § 4504(b)); and thirteen years on Counts 155, 156, and 157 (possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, 22 D.C. Code § 4504(b)). See Judgment [Dkt. 891] at 1-5. Mr. Gooch filed a timely appeal.[1] After full arguments

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concerning jury selection, trial, and verdict, the D.C. Circuit affirmed Mr. Gooch's convictions and sentence on January 6, 2012. See Gooch, 665 F.3d at 1338.

Mr. Gooch timely filed the instant motion on April 9, 2013, less than one year after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari.[2] United States v. Gooch, 665 F.3d 1318, 398 U.S.App.D.C. 455 (D.C. Cir. 2012), cert denied, 132 S.Ct. 1981, 182 L.Ed.2d 828 (2012); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1) (providing a one-year limitations period from, inter alia, " the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final" ).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A federal prisoner claiming the right to be released on the ground that " the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack," may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Because " Section 2255 is not a substitute for a direct appeal," " in order to gain relief under any claim, [the movant] is obliged to show a good deal more than would be sufficient on a direct appeal from his sentence." United States v. ...


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