The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Freda L. Wolfson
Boris Boretsky filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County, on April 7, 2006, after a jury found him guilty of the first-degree murder of his wife Saoule Moukhametova ("Lana"), felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary, terroristic threats, and other related crimes. Respondents filed an Answer arguing that the Petition should be dismissed and Petitioner filed a Reply. Presently before this Court is Petitioner's motion to stay the Petition while he pursues his first petition for post-conviction relief filed in the New Jersey Superior Court on or about March 8, 2011. For the reasons expressed below, this Court will deny the motion to stay without prejudice to Petitioner's filing a motion, within 20 days, to amend the Petition to add the claims raised in the state petition for post-conviction relief, to equitably toll the statute of limitations on those claims, and to stay the amended petition.
On April 7, 2006, after a jury sitting in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County, Law Division, found Petitioner guilty of all charges. Superior Court Judge James F. Mulvihill sentenced Petitioner to term of life imprisonment without parole, and a consecutive 23.5 year term.*fn1 Petitioner appealed. In an opinion filed August 28, 2008, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the conviction and sentence. See State v. Boretsky, 2008 WL 4057972 (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., Aug. 28, 2008). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on November 14, 2008. See State v. Boretsky, 197 N.J. 14 (2008) (table).
On February 10, 2009, Petitioner executed the § 2254 Petition before this Court. The Clerk docketed it on February 17, 2009. The Petition presents the following grounds, which are identical to the grounds raised on direct appeal:
Ground One: MY 5TH AND 6TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED BY THE ADMISSION OF STATEMENTS INITIATED BY POLICE AFTER I ASKED THEM TO SPEAK TO MY ATTORNEY AND, INSTEAD THEY DISCONNECTED MY TELEPHONE CALL TO HIM.
Ground Two: THE TRIAL COURT'S INSTRUCTION THAT JURY COULD CONSIDER EVIDENCE THAT DEFENDANT PREVIOUSLY ASSAULTED AND THREATENED HIS WIFE AS PROOF THAT HE WAS GUILTY OF MURDER DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.
Ground Three: THE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S TESTIMONY THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS "HOMICIDE" EXCEEDED THE SCOPE OF PERMISSIBLE EXPERT TESTIMONY AND IMPROPERLY ADDRESSED THE ULTIMATE ISSUE BEFORE THE JURY, THEREBY DEPRIVING DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL AND REQUIRING THE REVERSAL OF HIS CONVICTION.
Ground Four: THE COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN ITS REFUSAL TO SEVER THE COUNTS CHARGING CONTEMPT FOR VIOLATION OF A RESTRAINING ORDER.
Ground Five: BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THE ELEMENTS OF TERRORISTIC THREATS BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON COUNT TWO.
Ground Six: DEFENDANT'S BURGLARY AND FELONY MURDER CONVICTIONS MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO INFORM THE JURY THAT VIOLATION OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDER DOES NOT SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS OF A "PURPOSE TO COMMIT AN OFFENSE THEREIN."
Ground Seven: DURING THE TRIAL AND SUMMATION, THE PROSECUTOR COMMITTED SEVERAL ACTS OF MISCONDUCT WHICH VIOLATED DEFENDANT'S DUE PROCESS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL, THE AMENDMENT XIV OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.
Ground Eight: THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY ALLOWING THE JURY TO CONSIDER THAT THE DEFENDANT CAUSED SERIOUS BODILY INJURIES, OR CAUSED SIGNIFICANT BODILY INJURIES. THE JURY'S CONSIDERATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN LIMITED TO ATTEMPT TO CAUSE SERIOUS OR SIGNIFICANT BODILY INJURY ONLY.
Ground Nine: THE TRIAL JUDGE ABUSED HIS DISCRETION BY ALLOWING THE STATE TO DISPLAY TO THE JURY PICTURES DEPICTING INJURIES SUSTAINED BY SAOULE MOUKHAMETOVA ON THE NIGHT OF JANUARY 19, 2002 WHERE THE LEAST POSSIBLE INFLAMMATORY EVIDENCE TO PROVE THIS POINT WAS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE TESTIMONY OF DR. GARIBALDI AND OFFICER DROST. THUS, ...