United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1), (2) DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE
OF APPEALABILITY, AND (3) GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Doyle William Palmer (“Petitioner”) is a state
prisoner confined at the Alger Correctional Facility in
Munising, Michigan. On March 26, 2014, Petitioner filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 (the “Petition”). (See ECF
#1.) In the Petition, Petitioner challenges his state-court
convictions of two counts of first-degree premeditated
murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(a), two counts of
felony murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(b), and one
count each of arson of a dwelling house, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.72, first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.110a, felon in possession of a firearm, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and possession of a firearm
during the commission of a felony, second offense, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.227b. (See id.) For the
reasons that follow, the Petition is DENIED.
was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County
Circuit Court. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the
relevant facts as follows:
[Petitioner's] murder convictions arise from the shooting
and stabbing death of John Mascow and the stabbing death of
Dennis Langley. The victims shared a house in Riverview and
worked together in a vending machine business that was owned
by Langley. Sometime after 10:00 p.m. on February 27, 2008,
Mascow was shot and stabbed several times while he was lying
in his bed. Langley's burned body was found in an
attached garage that had been set on fire. An autopsy
established that Langley had been stabbed several times and
died before his body was exposed to the fire. Investigators
determined that an accelerant was used to start the fire in
the garage. There was evidence that some papers were lit on
fire in the bedrooms of the house, but extinguished on their
own. Langley's van was discovered a couple of blocks from
his house and it too had been set on fire. Cigarettes and
coins were missing from the van.
[Petitioner] previously assisted in Langley's vending
machine business on occasion and had also performed work at
Langley's house. When [Petitioner] was interviewed by the
police days after the homicides, he had a large bruise on his
forearm, a black eye, and a deep cut on his left hand. Blood
found at the scene and on a knife at the scene matched
[Petitioner's] DNA. A glove for a left hand was found in
the kitchen of Langley's house[.]
[B]lood inside the glove matched [Petitioner's] DNA, and
blood on the outside of the glove matched [Petitioner's],
Mascow's, and Langley's DNA.
The police arrested Alicia Hartner, Michael Wellwood, and
Phillip Morris, as other suspects in the case, but the
charges against them were dismissed after they were excluded
as possible donors of the blood found at the scene.
[Petitioner] gave several conflicting statements to the
police. He initially denied having anything to do with the
case or being present at Langley's home, but eventually
stated that he was at the house to sell cocaine to Langley,
and claimed that he and Langley were surprised by Hartner,
Wellwood, and Morris, who actually committed the crimes.
People v. Palmer, No. 295309, 2011 WL 3299855, at *2
(Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 2, 2011). Petitioner's conviction
was affirmed on appeal. See id.; lv. den. 806 N.W.2d
489 (Mich. 2011).
filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment in
the state trial court, which that court denied. See
People v. Palmer, No. 08-012323-01-FC (Wayne County Cir.
Ct. Oct. 5, 2012). The Michigan appellate courts then denied
Petitioner leave to appeal that decision . See People v.
Palmer, No. 147779 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 5, 2013);
lv. den. 840 N.W.2d 364 (Mich. 2013).
now seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:
I. The trial court's admission of inflammatory
photographic evidence over Petitioner's objection
constituted reversible error.
II. Petitioner was denied due process of law because the
jury's guilty verdicts were based upon insufficient
III. Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to
effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel
failed to work with Petitioner to prepare a trial strategy
and call a witness (a DNA expert) who could testify on
IV. Petitioner was denied due process of law because the
prosecutor engaged in misconduct by improperly distorting
evidence and arguing facts during opening statement that had
not been entered as evidence.
V. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of
appellate counsel because his appellate counsel failed to
raise certain issues on direct appeal.
VI. Petitioner moves the Court to excuse any procedural
default and consider any non-exhausted constitutional
claim(s) in order to avoid a ...