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Dantzler v. Sperfslage

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

April 2, 2019

ANTONIO DANTZLER, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAM SPERFSLAGE, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2254

          C.J. WILLIAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................... 2

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THIS FEDERAL CASE ............................ 2

         III. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THE STATE CASE .......... 3

         IV. STANDARDS FOR SECTION 2254 HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF ............... 7

         V. DISCUSSION ................................................................................ 9

         A. Destruction of Evidence-Return of Stolen Cash ............................. 10

         B. Separate Trials on Two Robberies .............................................. 14

         C. Whether Petitioner's Statements to Police Were Voluntary ................. 18

         VI. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY ................................................ 20

         VII. CONCLUSION ............................................................................. 21

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court for a decision on the merits of a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by a state prisoner who claims the State of Iowa violated his constitutional rights. Petitioner, Antonio Dantzler, was convicted of two counts of robbery in the first degree, and one count each for assault while participating in a felony, and possession of a firearm as a felon. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the petition and dismisses this case.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THIS FEDERAL CASE

         On October 26, 2017, petitioner filed a pro se petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 (Doc. 1) and a Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. 2).[1] The following day, petitioner filed supplements to both of those documents. (Docs. 3 & 4). On December 4, 2017, the Court denied petitioner's motion to appoint counsel and ordered respondent to file an answer. (Doc. 5). In March 2018, the Court established a briefing schedule. (Doc. 10). After extensions of those deadlines, the parties fully briefed the case and on October 25, 2018, the Court deemed the case ready for decision. (Doc. 25). On January 15, 2019, the case was reassigned to the undersigned United States District Court Judge.

         Petitioner requested an evidentiary hearing (Doc. 11), and respondent resisted the request. (Doc. 12). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Title 28, United States Code, Section 2254(e)(2), generally bars evidentiary hearings in federal habeas proceedings. Upon review of the pleadings and the record, the Court finds an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary to reach the merits of the petition in this case.

         III. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THE STATE CASE

         The Iowa Court of Appeals previously summarized the relevant facts of the underlying criminal conduct in this case, which the Court finds accurate upon its own review of the record.

On the afternoon of June 11, 2008, a Prime Mart convenience store and Dollar General store in Waterloo were robbed. Witnesses to the robberies reported the incidents by calling 911. Patrol officer, Brad Walter, testified that he responded to a call from dispatch reporting that suspects of the robbery fled in a dark colored SUV. As Walter drove toward the Dollar General store, he saw a black SUV with passengers matching the witnesses' description of the suspects. When Walter turned on his lights to perform an investigative stop of the SUV, a chase ensued. The SUV crashed into a house and the driver and passenger fled on foot through a residential neighborhood. Dantzler was arrested when a resident alerted officers that he was sitting on her front steps, she did not know him, and he matched the description of the suspects.
Dantzler was taken into custody and interrogated by officers. During the interrogation, Dantzler repeatedly told an officer he was drunk. An officer recovered $577 dollars from Dantzler. A customer from Dollar General, Shirley Clemens, had reported that the perpetrator stole between $500 and $600 from her. She also reported that the cash was damp and at least one bill was tinted pink. Dantzler was arrested and charged with two counts of robbery in the first degree, assault while participating in a felony, and possession of a firearm as a felon. When the cash was examined by lab technicians at the department of criminal investigation, they noted the bills were cool or damp to the touch and one bill was tinted pink. No. fingerprints were recovered from the bills. Clemens repeatedly requested return of the money. After discussion with the prosecuting attorney, the police photographed the bills and gave the money confiscated from Dantzler, to Clemens.

State v. Dantzler, No. 09-1363, 2010 WL 3155229, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 11, 2010) (footnote omitted).

         The Iowa Court of Appeals further elaborated on the facts in ruling on petitioner's state post-conviction relief petition. The Court also finds these facts to be accurate based upon its own review of the record.

The evidence at trial showed the black SUV arriving at the Dollar General two separate times on the morning of June 11, hours before the robbery. Each time, three African-American males were seen arriving and departing the store together. After Dantzler was arrested, he was found to be in possession of two receipts from the Dollar General, matching the times the three men were observed on the store surveillance.
He was also found in possession of $577, which was damp and one bill was tinted pink. The customer victim at the Dollar General robbery asserted the perpetrator, wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with a white piece of cloth over his face and caring a hand gun, took between five hundred and six hundred dollars from her. The money was damp because she had recently been in a flood. She had washed off the money, and let it dry on pink paper which turned the bills pink. Dantzler asserts the money found on him was pink because he had it in the pocket of his red pajama pants, the same pants he was wearing when arrested and the same pants seen on the Dollar General surveillance video the morning before the robbery. While the red pants could explain the color on the money, it does not explain the dampness of the bills.[2]
The same black SUV was seen in the area of the Prime Mart robbery. One of the perpetrators of that robbery was seen on store surveillance wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt and a piece of white cloth covering his face.
After the police chase following the Dollar General robbery, the hooded-sweatshirt and white cloth were found in the SUV, along with the gun and other items of clothing matching the description of the other suspects seen on the surveillance video. Dantzler was found on the porch of a nearby house, not wearing a shirt, but wearing pants and shoes matching the description of witnesses and the surveillance video. The resident of the house, who was watching the police search unfold, indicated to police she did not know who he was.
The white cloth was tested for DNA and the test found that Dantzler was a possible contributor to the profiles found. The test concluded, ÔÇťAssuming more than one contributor, approximately 1 out of 100, 000 unrelated individuals for [the first sample] and 1 out of 8, 000 unrelated individuals for [the second sample] would ...

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