A Petition for Habeas Corpus is essentially an application to a federal court by a state prisoner, after all State court appeals have been exhausted, urging that the state court rulings made during trial and on appeal were contrary to United States Supreme Court precedent.
Officials said during the 2008 trial, evidence showed that Christopher Blank, 29,of Egg Harbor Township, was wanted on outstanding warrants when the car he was a passenger in was pulled over on July 13, 2006. Blank fled the vehicle as Officers Christopher Leary and Clear Costantino tried to arrest him. Later, as the officer tried to apprehend him, there was a struggle and Blank was able to gain access to Costantino’s gun. Blank shot Costantino three times, which required surgery. Blank shot Leary in the chest, but the officer was saved by his bulletproof vest. Blank fled and then had a short shoot-out with Officer William Loder. A bullet fired by Blank missed Loder; Blank suffered a wound to the arm and then fled into the woods. He was apprehended hours later.
In his Petition, Blank urged that:
1) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective;
2) the trial court erred by not charging the jury with lesser included offenses; and
3) the trial court erred in denying the jury’s request to remove a trigger lock from the gun used in the assaults.
The Federal District Court rejected all of Blank’s claims, concluding:
“Petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing that he was denied a constitutional right.” Accordingly, Blank will now remain incarcerated with his earliest parole eligibility date being October 10, 2078.
Following the issuance of the Court’s opinion, Formica said, “On behalf of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, we are pleased that the district court rejected Blank’s Petition meaning that he will remain incarcerated. We are also pleased that this ruling represents justice for the three police officers involved who were savagely attacked. As society’s first line of defense, police officers are often times victims of violence too.”
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page.
People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.