United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marterius Sanders, a Mississippi inmate proceeding pro
se, has filed a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the conviction and sentence
for sale of a controlled substance that he received in the
Circuit Court of Lee County, Mississippi. Having considered
the submissions of the parties, the State-court record, and
the law applicable to Sanders' claims, the Court finds
that the petition should be denied.
Facts and Procedural History
Mississippi Court of Appeals found the following facts:
On September 11, 2014, Chris Brown, a multijurisdictional
narcotics agent, mobilized James White, an undercover
confidential informant (CI), to purchase $200 worth of crack
cocaine from a female named Karashawanna Fields. White was
given the money to purchase the drugs and was fitted with an
audio-video recording device. When White called Fields to
verify their meeting location, Fields changed the rally point
to a nearby apartment complex instead. When White arrived at
the location, the video recording captured him interacting
with a black male- later identified as Sanders-and exchanging
the $200 for an item later confirmed to be 1.65 grams of
crack cocaine. The video showed Sanders approach White, give
him a clear plastic bag with a white substance inside, shake
White's hand, and walk away.
After the transaction was complete, White called and notified
Agent Brown and then traveled to Agent Brown's office.
Upon arriving at the office, White participated in the
postsale interview conducted by Agent Brown. The
video-recording device remained on and recorded White tell
Agent Brown that he purchased the cocaine from a man named
“G” or “Greg.” Subsequently, Agent
Brown conducted an investigation, and through various
statements and identifications by other witnesses, including
fellow officer J.B. Long, he determined that
“Greg” was Sanders.
At trial, the prosecution admitted photographs taken from the
audio-video recording. The photographs depicted Sanders and
the white substance clearly. The prosecution also admitted
the audio-video recording into evidence over the
defense's contemporaneous hearsay, Confrontation Clause,
and unauthenticated-evidence objections. Agent Brown
testified that he “remained a block or two over”
from the “buy” spot, and he kept “loose
surveillance” on the area during the operation. Agent
Brown further testified, without an objection, that with help
from Officer Long he was able to determine that
“Greg” was Sanders.
Sanders testified in his own defense and confirmed that on
September 11, 2014, he was at the apartment where the CI
purchased the crack cocaine. He further testified that he was
visiting Fields, who he knew was a drug dealer, and that she
asked him to get a substance off the table and bring it to
her. He testified that he did so, but that he was not paying
attention to what was in the small plastic bag. Sanders
maintained that he gave the substance to Fields, not White,
and that Fields gave the substance to the CI. Sanders denied
being called “G” and denied receiving any money
as part of a transaction.
Sanders v. State, 228 So.3d 888, 889-90 (Miss. Ct.
App.), reh'g denied (June 13, 2017), cert.
denied, 223 So.3d 787 (Miss. 2017). Particularly
relevant to Sanders' claims in the instant petition, the
Court notes that White was killed prior to trial, and Sanders
never had the opportunity to cross-examine him. See
Doc. #9-1 at 36-39.
28, 2015, Sanders was convicted of sale, transfer, or
distribution of crack cocaine in the Circuit Court of Lee
County. Doc. #9-1 at 69-70. By judgment filed May 28, 2015,
he was sentenced to serve eight years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) as
an habitual offender without parole or early release.
the assistance of counsel, Sanders appealed the judgment and
conviction to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which
affirmed the trial court's decision. Sanders v.
State, 228 So.3d 888 (Miss. Ct. App. 2017),
reh'g denied June 13, 2017. Sanders, proceeding
pro se, filed a certiorari petition that was denied
by the Mississippi Supreme Court on August 10, 2017. Doc.
December 13, 2017, Sanders filed a pro se
application for post-conviction relief. Doc. #9-7 at 4-11.
The Mississippi Supreme Court entered an Order denying the
motion on January 10, 2018. Doc. #8-3.
September 5, 2018, Sanders signed the instant petition, which
was stamped “filed” in this Court on September
24, 2018. In the instant petition, ...