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Palmer v. Woods

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

October 26, 2016

DOYLE WILLIAM PALMER, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.

          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 PAUPERIS

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner 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.[1] (See id.) For the reasons that follow, the Petition is DENIED.

         I

         Petitioner 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).

         Petitioner 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).

         Petitioner 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 evidence.
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 Petitioner's behalf.
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 ...

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