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Crenshaw v. Curtin

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 20, 2015

KA’RON CRENSHAW, Petitioner,
v.
CINDI CURTIN, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

David M. Lawson United States District Judge

Petitioner Ka’ron Cortez Crenshaw was convicted by a Wayne County, Michigan jury of armed robbery and firearms offenses. He was sentenced as an habitual offender to substantial prison terms, and presently is confined at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, Michigan. He has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging that his convictions violate his constitutional rights because there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was the perpetrator of the offenses, and the photo array displayed to the robbery victims was illegal because he was in custody at the time, and it was unduly suggestive. The respondent has filed an answer asserting that the petitioner’s first claim is meritless and the second claim is procedurally defaulted and lacks merit. The Court agrees that the petitioner’s claims are meritless and therefore will deny the petition.

I.

The facts of the case, as taken from the trial testimony, were well summarized by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which adjudicated the petitioner’s direct appeal, as follows:

Michael Dahl (Dahl) testified that on August 19, 2009, at 9:00 a.m., he and Lewis Vernon Smith II (Smith) made plans to go to Hawthorne Street in the city of Detroit, Michigan. They eventually met up with “Kevin” and “Peanut” [Dahl testified he knew these men only by their nicknames] in front of a camper parked in a driveway on Hawthorne Street. After getting into the car, Smith, “Peanut, ” and “Kevin” smoked some marijuana. “Peanut” and “Kevin” asked if Dahl and Smith would take them to a white house at 19125 Russell Street, in the city of Detroit. After stopping at Russell Street, Dahl agreed to stop and pick someone else up. “Kevin” and “Peanut” both got out of the car and went inside the house, emerging about ten minutes later with defendant.
After defendant got into the car, he told Dahl and Smith to go around the block to Hannah Street. Defendant then pointed out a house on Hannah Street and the men stopped in front of that house and “Kevin, ” “Peanut, ” and defendant got out of the car and went behind the house on Hannah Street. Dahl, Smith, and “Peanut” went inside the house and “Peanut” locked the door behind them. Dahl immediately saw “Kevin” inside the house. Defendant then came out with a gun that looked like an old army gun and cocked it. Dahl and Smith said, “[A]re you serious?” Defendant responded, “You think I’m playing, ” and then defendant pulled the trigger while pointing the gun at Dahl and Smith. The gun “clicked” but did not go off. Defendant then told Dahl and Smith to get on the ground, which Dahl and Smith did. Defendant told Dahl and Smith to lay flat on their faces, and told “Kevin” and “Peanut” to go through their pockets. Defendant then told Dahl and Smith to take their pants off, after which defendant and “Kevin” went through Dahl’s pockets and took Dahl’s Safe Link cell phone, a pack of cigarettes, and $20. “Peanut” went through Smith’s pockets. “Kevin” and “Peanut” took Smith’s cell phone, wallet, keys, and cigarettes. Following the robbery, Dahl stood up and looked out of the window and saw defendant drive off in Smith’s Chevy with “Kevin” and “Peanut.” Dahl and Smith then went to a gas station and telephoned police.
The responding officers radioed information regarding the make and model of the stolen vehicle. Detroit police officers found that vehicle, and while conducting surveillance on the vehicle, saw “Peanut, ” later identified as Darian Baker, get into the vehicle and drive away. He was arrested a short distance from where police initially located the vehicle.
Dahl and Smith were called into the police station to identify their property. While there, both identified defendant from three photo arrays as the man who held a gun on them, took their property and drove away in the Chevy.

People v. Crenshaw, No. 301668, 2012 WL 1192172, at *1-2 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 10, 2012) (footnote omitted).

During the investigation, Dahl and Smith identified the white house on Russell and Seven Mile Road where they encountered the defendant. The police obtained a search warrant for that house, and discovered Smith’s and Dahl’s cell phones. The petitioner was present at the time and the police arrested him.

The jury convicted the defendant of two counts of armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury acquitted the petitioner of carjacking and unlawfully driving away an automobile. The petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on appeal, but the court found a sentencing error and remanded for re-sentencing. Crenshaw, 2012 WL 1192172, lv. to appeal den., 492 Mich. 868, 819 N.W.2d 911 (2012).

On August 20, 2013, the petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court, in which he asserted two claims for relief, which he had presented to the state appellate courts:

I. There was insufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that ...

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