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We are called upon here only to address Sera's conviction in Arkansas for the rape of Deal, and we accordingly focus our discussion on the facts relating to that incident. After taking the children to the cousin's house, Sera and Deal drove to nearby Monticello, Arkansas. Deal testified that the way she felt when awaking in Sera's bed the morning after the Macaroni Grill trip was consistent with the way that she felt after the video-taped episode. 127 (rejecting argument that circumstantial evidence must exclude every reasonable hypothesis other than guilt); Jackson, 443 U.
We recount the facts in the light most favorable to the verdict. During the drive to Monticello, Sera told Deal that he had a six-pack of beer in the trunk of the car and asked her if she would like one. “Rather, that application must also be unreasonable.” Id. Finally, a state court decision involves “an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings” only if it is shown that the state court's presumptively correct factual findings are rebutted by “clear and convincing evidence” and do not enjoy support in the record. The evidence relating to the Monticello trip is thus indicative of Sera's plan of action, or modus operandi, on the evening of the Macaroni Grill trip. “The evidence need not exclude every reasonable hypothesis except guilt.” United States v.
Deal agreed, and Sera pulled the car over to the side of the road to get the drink from the trunk. Taking the evidence together, the jury reasonably could have inferred that sexual penetration occurred on the evening of the Macaroni Grill trip. Supp.2d at 1122, 1123, the only 404(b) evidence relied upon by the Arkansas Supreme Court in its analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence was evidence showing that Sera had drugged and sexually assaulted Deal on the couple's earlier trip to Monticello. W.3d at 76 (“Clearly, Sera had the opportunity, the scheme, or plan in place, and he had already carried it out on one prior occasion with Deal.”). Williford, 309 F.3d 507, 509 (8th Cir.2002) (citation to quoted case omitted); see also, Holland, 348 U.
Sera remained at the rear of the car for some time, prompting Deal to ask what was taking him so long. When he returned to the car, Sera handed Deal a bottle of beer and continued driving. As noted by the Supreme Court, “a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly.” Id. While we recognize that the evidence of rape was not overwhelming, we nonetheless find that it was sufficient for “any reasonable juror” to find Sera guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 404(b) and the limiting instructions given the jury, is without basis. In evaluating the decision of the state supreme court, we need not address evidence not relied upon by that court in reaching its holding. Sera's due process rights were not violated by the state court's reliance on Sera's sexual abuse of Deal two weeks earlier as evidence supporting the jury's conviction of rape on the evening of the Macaroni Grill trip.
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Steven Anthony Sera was convicted by an Arkansas jury on eight criminal counts related to his use of Rohypnol, a so-called “date rape drug,” to perpetrate sex crimes against two women in Arkansas. § 2254 (2000) challenging only his conviction on one count of rape. The videotape shows Sera penetrating Deal's vagina on several separate instances (each from a varied camera angle), and Deal is heard snoring. Olk-Long, 84 F.3d 284, 288 (8th Cir.1996) (upholding felony murder conviction despite recognizing that “some parts of the record could be read to support [the defendant's] theories that either her parents or her children could have inflicted the fatal injuries” on the defendant's child), cert.
John Wesley Hall, Jr., argued, Little Rock, AR, for appellee. Therefore, he claims, his state court conviction violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and clear Supreme Court precedent that requires all elements of a crime be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, the jury watched the videotape depicting Sera's actions on the day the couple traveled to Monticello.
Deal testified that from that point forward, she has no memory of most of the events of the afternoon. The evidence of Sera's actions on the evening of the Monticello trip showed plan and modus operandi by demonstrating that Sera had gone through a similar sequence-taking Deal on a drive to another town, drugging her with Rohypnol such that she was unconscious, taking her to a bed and breakfast, removing her clothes-preceding both assaults. Le Compte, 99 F.3d 274, 278 (8th Cir.1996) (precluding evidence of past sexual assaults occurring eight to ten years earlier and noting that “the events were far apart in time”).
Without her knowledge, Sera drove her to the bed and breakfast at which he was staying in Warren. Also indicative is the fact that the events were close in time-the Monticello incident occurring only about two weeks before the Macaroni Grill incident. The Arkansas Supreme Court did not rely upon evidence of the Monticello incident as direct evidence of Sera's guilt.
Her cousin testified that Deal “seemed confused” and was no longer wearing the socks and tee-shirt that she had been wearing when she left on the trip with Sera. The couple's next trip was to a casino in Greenville, Mississippi. Sera gave Deal alcoholic drinks both on the drive to Greenville and at the casino. A state court decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court precedent if it “applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Court's] cases” or if it “confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the Court's] precedent.” Williams v.
Deal testified that she cannot recall leaving the casino or the return trip to Warren.
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