Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Estrada v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division

June 17, 2016

CELSO ESTRADA, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Celso Estrada, Jr. filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, Civ. Doc. 1.[1] This Court screened the § 2255 motion and ordered the Government to answer. Civ. Doc. 7. Estrada's § 2255 motion made claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, so the Government sought an order directing Estrada's defense counsel to file an affidavit addressing factual matters raised in the § 2255 motion. Civ. Doc. 9. Estrada waived in writing the attorney-client privilege with his defense counsel, and defense counsel submitted an affidavit. Civ. Doc. 14. Thereafter, on April 20, 2016, the Government filed a Motion to Dismiss and accompanying Memorandum. Civ. Docs. 21, 22. Estrada did not respond to the Motion to Dismiss and his 21-day time for doing so under Civil Local Rule 7.1(B) passed several weeks ago. D.S.D. Civ. LR 7.1(B). For the reasons explained, the Government's motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. Facts

         On November 16, 2013, Estrada stabbed Harold James Fuller, Jr. ("Harold") in the torso with a knife causing Harold to suffer a collapsed lung and internal organ damage in the area of his stomach. United States v. Estrada. 13-CR-30200-RAL, Doc. 36.[2] Estrada then used the knife to slash the arm of Harold's wife Tera Jade Fuller ("Tera") causing a severe laceration down to the bone and a small puncture to her torso. Cr. Doc. 36. Both Harold and Tera are "Indians" under federal law and Estrada's assaults occurred in Indian country. Cr. Doc. 36. Estrada was indicted for two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Estrada was appointed counsel, Jana M. Miner, who was and remains the Senior Litigator for the Federal Public Defender's Office for North and South Dakota. Cr. Doc. 9. Estrada initially pleaded not guilty. Cr. Doc. 21. Later, Estrada entered into a plea agreement, changed his plea to guilty on the two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and received a sentence of 46 months total with two years of supervised release. Cr. Docs. 52, 53.

         Estrada's § 2255 motion asserts that Miner provided ineffective assistance of counsel in not investigating or pursuing a self-defense theory. Civ. Doc. 1. Specifically, Estrada in ground one alleges that Miner was ineffective "for failing to investigate and pursue a self-defense theory after movant had advised her that he had only defended himself and his wife" ostensibly from a couple motivated by racial animus and "for failing to call and/or investigate [Estrada's] wife" who ostensibly would have supported Estrada's self-defense theory. Civ. Doc. 1.

         However, Estrada signed a Factual Basis Statement, Cr. Doc. 36, that directly refutes his assertion of self-defense. Estrada at his change of plea hearing testified under oath that the Factual Basis Statement was completely accurate. Cr. Doc. 56 at 16-17. That Factual Basis Statement stated in relevant part:

On or about the 16th day of November, 2013, in Todd County, in Indian country, in the District of South Dakota, Celso Estrada, Jr., a non-Indian, did unlawfully assault Harold James Fuller, Jr., an Indian, with a dangerous weapon, that is, a knife, with intent to do bodily harm to Harold James Fuller, Jr., in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152 and 113(a)(3).
On or about the 16th day of November, 2013, in Todd County, in Indian country, in the District of South Dakota, Celso Estrada, Jr., a non-Indian, did unlawfully assault Tera Jade Fuller, an Indian, with a dangerous weapon, that is, a knife, with intent to do bodily harm to Tera Jade Fuller, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152 and 113(a)(3).
On November 16, 2013, Tera Jade Fuller was at apartment # 31 at the Sinte Gleska University apartment complex, where the Defendant lives with his wife Destiny Swan, a/k/a Destiny Estrada. Estrada and Tera were drinking alcohol, socializing, and watching some sports events on television. They were all friends. At some point, a verbal and physical disagreement arose. Tera may have bitten Estrada. Tera called for her husband, Harold James Fuller, Jr., to come to the apartment and take her home. Around 3:00 a.m., Harold arrived and knocked at apartment #31, and observed that Tera and Destiny were involved in a physical confrontation. The physical confrontation between Tera and Destiny spilled out into the hallway in front of Apartment #31. Harold, who was not drinking alcohol, positioned himself between Tera and Destiny, in an effort to break them up or hold them apart. As Harold is positioned between Tera and Destiny, with his back to the doorway of apartment #31, the Defendant comes in the hallway holding a knife and quickly stabs Harold in the torso, striking Harold from a rear position. Thereafter, the Defendant makes a slashing motion to Tera's torso and arm. The Defendant reversed his course of travel, puts the knife behind his back, and retreats into apartment #31. Harold and Tera bled profusely in the hallway, and both ended up on the hallway floor until medical personnel arrive to help them.
Harold suffered a collapsed lung, as well as damage to internal organs in his stomach region. Tera suffered a stab and slash to her arm, which also punctured her torso. Tera's arm was severely lacerated, with the slashing cutting down to the bone. Both Harold and Tera were hospitalized. The parties agree that both Harold and Tera suffered serious bodily injury.

Cr. Doc. 36. The Factual Basis Statement also contains a verification paragraph at its start verifying the truth of those facts and a final paragraph setting forth the facts that bring the case within federal criminal jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 1153.

         Estrada's stabbings of Harold and Tera were captured on a security camera video of the hallway outside of Estrada's apartment, showing Estrada stabbing Harold from behind as Harold was trying to separate Tera and Estrada's wife who were tussling. Estrada then slashed Tera's arm with the knife before putting the knife behind his back and retreating into his apartment.

         Estrada has not contested the content of the Affidavit of Jana Miner, which directly addresses Estrada's contentions in his § 2255 motion. Miner attested as follows in paragraphs 8 through 16: [3]

At the beginning of my representation, Estrada said that he did not remember what had happened because he was very intoxicated. His first conversation with the federal defender investigator was very emotional, with Estrada crying and wailing. His story moved from being blacked out to a recollection of stabbing the victims because he was being beaten up by Tera Fuller. He did mention defense of Destiny, but was more concerned about his injuries at the hand of Tera Fuller. He did not say he was attacked by Harold Fuller. He acknowledged his perception of what happened might be different from what was on the video because he was drunk. During a second visit, when he reviewed the video, Estrada said that the video must have been altered by the building management because he is not a tribal member and that his status as an outsider married to a tribal member ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.