Guam – Chief District Court Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood has denied a motion from Daniel Diaz Punzalan to vacate his prison sentence.
In August 2008 Punzalan was found guilty of one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon . In May of 2009 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 3 years supervised release.
Punzalan sought to have his sentence declared “invalid” on the grounds that
1. The “evidence used at trial was the product of unlawful entry and search”
2. Punzalan had “ineffective assistance of counsel.”
In rejecting Punzalan’s claim of “unlawful entry and search”, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood notes:
* Although the Marshals acted on second-hand information, they did not enter until they had sufficient reason to believe Punzalan was present
* Prior to entering, the Marshals knocked on the door and asked Punzalan’s brother, who answered the door, whether Punzalan was home and he answered yes.
* Only after confirming Punzalan was home and after requesting the brother to come out for his safety, did the Marshals enter the residence
* United States v. Gorman: “Fourth Amendment rights would not have been violated when the [Marshals] entered a third-party residence with an arrest warrant for [Petitioner], but without a search warrant or consent, if the [Marshals] had ‘reason to believe’ that he was present.”
” Based on the foregoing, the Marshals had reason to believe [Punzalan] was present … when they effectuated the arrest warrant,” writes Judge Tydingco-Gatewood. She concludes that:
*The entry into the residence to effectuate Petitioner’s arrest was lawful
* The search of the bag laying beside Punzalan in the bedroom was a lawful search incident to arrest
* The search of the vehicle was a lawful search pursuant to the vehicle owner’s consent
As for Punzalan’s claim of “ineffective assistance of counsel”, the Judge concluded:
“Defense counsel’s failure to further investigate the circumstances of the entry and search of April 11, 2007 and decision not to call Petitioner’s uncle, brother, and mother as witnesses does not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness. Accordingly, this claim is denied.”