United States District Court, D. New Jersey
CHARLES W. GOULD, Petitioner,
WILLIE BONDS, et al., Respondents.
Charles W. Gould, No. 693505/C-398136, South Woods State
Prison, Petitioner pro se.
Patrick Daniel Isbill, Camden County Prosecutor's Office,
Counsel for Respondents.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
Charles Gould (“Petitioner”), a prisoner
presently incarcerated at South Woods State Prison in
Bridgeton, New Jersey, has filed a Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the
“Petition”). (ECF No. 1.) Respondents Willie
Bonds and the Attorney General for the State of New Jersey
(“Respondents”) filed an Answer to the Petition
(the “Answer”). (ECF No. 9.) For the following
reasons, the Court will deny the Petition and a certificate
of appealability will not issue.
opinion on direct appeal, the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Appellate Division, provided the following summary of the
factual background of Petitioner's case:
Around 4:00 p.m. on March 30, 2010, Brandon Adams was
standing at the corner of Rand and Thorndyke in Camden
selling drugs with Kelly Robinson who was acting as a
look-out. Alcedes Santori walked past the two men and greeted
Adams. Santori continued toward a friend's house nearby.
While in the house, Santori noticed Victoria Long outside and
went down to smoke a cigarette with her. Long only had one
cigarette so she walked toward Adams to see if he had any.
Long returned with a cigarette and then walked with Santori
back towards Adams.
As Santori and Long approached Adams, they noticed two men.
One stayed at the corner while the other, armed with a
handgun, approached Adams. The gunman, later identified as
defendant, put the gun to Adams's stomach and demanded
his money. Adams appeared to recognize the gunman and, at
first, thought he was joking. Once he realized the gunman was
serious, Adams turned over his money.
Defendant then ordered Adams to take him to where his
“stash” of drugs was hidden. Adams directed
defendant to an alleyway where he had kept some of his drugs,
but explained that there were no drugs there. Defendant
became irate and shot Adams five times, causing severe
injuries to his arm, stomach and liver. Defendant then left
with the other person.
After the shooting, Santori and Long fled back to their
friend's house. Adams followed them and asked them to
call an ambulance. When the ambulance did not arrive
promptly, Long and her brother, Michael Leslie, drove Adams
to Cooper University Hospital. Adams underwent several
surgeries to repair injuries from gunshot wounds to his
abdomen and liver, and two fractured bones in his right arm.
New Jersey State Trooper Arthur Barilotti led the
investigation into Adams's shooting. Barilotti conducted
a tape-recorded interview of Robinson who provided a
description of the gunman. Robinson said he had seen the
The following day, Barilotti went back to the hospital to
question Adams. While Adams provided a description of the
gunman, he would not cooperate further with the
investigation. Barilotti learned from Michael Leslie,
Long's brother, that the “the word on the
street” was that the shooter's nickname was
“Mister.” On April 1, 2010, Adams's mother,
Jean Adams, contacted the Camden Police Department and
informed them that her son told her that a man named
“Mister” had shot him, but he did not want her to
tell the police because he did not want to be known as a
“snitch.” After speaking with Ms. Adams,
Detective Barilotti returned to the hospital with her. Ms.
Adams went into her son's room first, while Barilotti
waited outside the room. Barilotti heard Adams yelling at his
mother for talking to the police and told her that he could
be in danger now. After hearing this, Barilotti entered the
hospital room to try and speak with Adams but he became angry
and refused to provide any information.
After learning that defendant was known as “Mister,
” Barilotti prepared a photo array for the three
eyewitnesses to the shooting, Long, Santori and Robinson.
Santori picked up defendant's photo, hesitated, but did
not identify any of the photos as the shooter.
While the police were transporting Santori home, he began to
cry and expressed concern for his family's safety.
Trooper Michael Legati asked him if he saw the shooter in the
photo array and he responded that it was number four,
“Mister.” The police, however, were not able to
obtain a formal statement from Santori.
Long was shown the same photo array and identified defendant,
whom she knew as “Mister.” She told police that
the way “Mister” shot Adams was not right and
that it seemed “personal.” Robinson viewed the
photo array and also identified defendant as the shooter. He
said he was “positive it's him, ” and that he
was “a hundred percent” positive. Robinson then
explained that “Mister” threatened him the night
of the shooting and said what happened to Adams could happen
At trial, Long, Santori and Robinson all denied identifying
defendant as the shooter in the photo arrays. The State
conducted a Gross hearing to determine if the
witnesses' prior inconsistent statements identifying
defendant could be admitted. The trial court found these
pre-trial identifications to be reliable and permitted their
During the trial, Adams was called as a witness for defendant
and testified that he was able to see who shot him and Adams
was not the shooter. On cross-examination, the State asked
Adams whether he told his mother that “Mister”
was the person who shot him. When he denied this, the trial
court permitted the State to call Ms. Adams as a rebuttal
witness. Ms. Adams testified that while Adams was in the
hospital he told her that “someone named
‘Mister' shot him.” She indicated that Adams
described “Mister” as a light-skinned male who
Defendant told her not to tell anyone about this.
Defendant did not testify on his behalf.
State v. Gould, A-2756-11T3, 2013 WL 5300618, at
*1-3 ( N.J.Super. App. Div. 2013) (internal footnotes
was sentenced to an aggregate term of twenty-five years
imprisonment. (ECF No. 9-3.) The Appellate Division affirmed
Petitioner's conviction and sentence. See id. at
*7. On April 4, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied
Petitioner's application for a writ of certiorari.
See State v. Gould, 88 A.3d 936 (N.J. 2014).
Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief
(“PCR”). (ECF No. 9-13.) Following oral argument,
the PCR court denied Petitioner's application. (ECF No.
9-35 at 2.) The Appellate Division affirmed the PCR
court's denial but remanded the matter for a correction
of the judgment of conviction to reflect the accurate period
of parole ineligibility. See State v. Gould,
A-5052-14T1, 2017 WL 4079023, at *5 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div.
Sept. 15, 2017). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied
Petitioner's request for a writ of certiorari. See
State v. Gould, 180 A.3d 697 (N.J. 2018).
2018, Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition, pro
se. (ECF No. 1 at 16.) Petitioner raises claims of
prosecutorial misconduct, trial court error, and ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel. (See generally ECF
No. 1-4.) On August 28, 2018, Respondents filed an answer
opposing Petitioner's § 2254 application. (ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 is the proper mechanism for a state prisoner to
challenge the fact or duration of his confinement where the
petitioner claims his custody is in violation of the
Constitution or the laws of the United States. See
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Cullen v. Pinholster, 563
U.S. 170, 181 (2011); Preiser v. Rodriquez, 411 U.S.
475, 498-99 (1973). A habeas petitioner bears the burden of
establishing his entitlement to relief for each claim
presented in the petition. See Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98 (2011).
standard used in reviewing habeas claims under § 2254
depends on whether those claims have been adjudicated on the
merits by the state court. If they have not been adjudicated
on the merits, the Court reviews de novo both legal questions
and mixed factual and legal questions. See Appel v.
Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001). If the state
court adjudicated the claim on the merits, then 2254(d)
limits the review of the state court's decision as
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding . . . .
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court,
this Court has “no authority to issue the writ of
habeas corpus unless the [state court's] decision
‘was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal Law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,' or
‘was based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court
proceeding.'” Parker v. Matthews, 567 U.S.
37, 40 (2012) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)).
begins the analysis under § 2254(d)(1) by determining
the relevant law clearly established by the Supreme Court.
See Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 660
(2004). Clearly established law “refers to the
holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme
Court's] decisions as of the time of the relevant
state-court decision.” Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 412 (2000). A court must look for “the
governing legal principle or principles set forth by the
Supreme Court at the time the state court renders its
decision.” Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63,
71-72 (2003). “[C]ircuit precedent does not constitute
‘clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court,' [and] therefore cannot form the basis for
habeas relief under AEDPA.” Parker, 567 U.S.
at 48-49 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)).
decision is “contrary to” a Supreme Court holding
within 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), if the state court
applies a rule that “contradicts the governing law set
forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases” or if it
“confronts a set of facts that are materially
indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme Court] and
nevertheless arrives at a [different result.]”
Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06. Under the
“‘unreasonable application' clause of §
2254(d)(1), a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the
state court identifies the correct governing legal principle
from [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably
applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. “[A]n
unreasonable application of federal law, ” however,
“is different from an incorrect application of federal
law.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101
(2011) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 410).
Prosecutor's Misuse of Testimonial Hearsay
first ground for relief, Petitioner submits that the
prosecutor's introduction of hearsay testimony from
non-testifying witnesses violated his rights under the
Confrontation Clause. (ECF No. 1-4, at 5-7.) Specifically,
Petitioner contends that Detective Barilotti improperly
testified about out-of-court statements obtained from
individuals who did not testify at trial. (Id.)
trial, defense counsel attacked Detective Barilotti's
investigation as having focused on Petitioner, also known as
“Mister”, based solely upon speculation and
“the word on the street.” (ECF No. 9-28, at 15;
ECF No. 9-32, at 21.) On cross-examination of Detective
Barilotti, the defense attempted to emphasize this point by
eliciting testimony from Detective Barilotti that two
individuals who were not called as witnesses at trial had
identified Petitioner as the shooter based solely upon
“the word on the street.” (ECF No. 9-31, at 11.)
Defense Counsel: Detective, isn't [it] true that before
the photo array was prepared you had actually only heard the
name “Mister” from two people?
Detective Barilotti: That's correct.
Defense Counsel: And neither one of those people were