United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING
PERMISSION TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge.
Michael Lee Williams filed this application for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On April 25,
2013, Petitioner was convicted after a jury trial in the
Wayne County Circuit Court of three counts of armed robbery,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, two counts of possession of
a firearm during commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.227b, and carrying a concealed weapon. Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.227. These convictions resulted in a
controlling sentence of 15 to 30 years for one of the armed
robbery convictions, and an additional consecutive 2 year
term for the felony-firearm convictions.
petition raises two claims: (1) the prosecutor committed
misconduct during closing argument, and (2) there was
insufficient evidence presented to sustain Petitioner's
armed robbery conviction against one of the victims. The
Court will deny the petition because the claims are without
merit. The Court will also deny Petitioner a certificate of
appealability, but it will grant Petitioner permission to
proceed on appeal in forma pauperis.
Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied upon by the
Michigan Court of Appeals, which are presumed correct on
habeas review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See
Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009):
On September 1, 2012, Joshua Johnson and several
men-including defendant-drove around Detroit, Michigan, for
the purpose of seeking out people to rob. Between 6:30 and
6:45 p.m., the men spotted Albert Andrews exiting a liquor
store. When Andrews attempted to enter his car, defendant and
another man pointed handguns at him. Andrews attempted to
reach his own pistol inside the car, but he was overpowered
by the group.
During the struggle, defendant took a gold chain that Andrews
was wearing, and another male grabbed the pistol from inside
the vehicle. The attackers ran away, but Andrews saw them
enter a green jeep. In a photograph lineup conducted
approximately a month later, Andrews identified defendant as
one of the attackers. At trial, Johnson admitted to driving
the jeep, and Jonathan Colvin testified that he and defendant
participated in the robbery.
On September 8, 2012, defendant, Johnson, and Colvin met
again for the purpose of committing a robbery. At
approximately 8:30 p.m., Johnson drove defendant and Colvin
to Dearborn, Michigan. He dropped them off in a residential
area and they proceeded on foot. Salwa Bazzi, Mirvat Hammoud,
and two other women were sitting on the front porch of
Hammoud's house when they saw defendant and Colvin
approaching. Defendant and Colvin went onto the porch, drew
their handguns, and demanded that Bazzi hand over her
cellular phone. Defendant grabbed Hammoud by the head and
dragged her across the porch. Hammoud was loudly screaming
throughout the encounter, and the neighbors started to come
out of their homes. Then defendant and Colvin ran away after
taking Bazzi's cell phone.
The police were able to track Bazzi's cellular phone to a
liquor store in Detroit, where they apprehended defendant,
Colvin, and Johnson. At the time of the arrest, the police
found defendant in possession of a handgun and Bazzi's
cell phone. After he was arrested, defendant confessed to the
People v. Williams, No. 316429, 316762, 2014 WL
5066396, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 9, 2014).
his conviction and sentence, Petitioner filed a claim of
appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals. His appellate brief
raised the following claims:
I. Williams is entitled to a new trial where the closing
arguments of the prosecutor were improper.
II. Williams is entitled to a new trial or entry of a
conviction for the lesser offense of either attempted armed
robbery or assault with the intent to commit armed robbery
where there was insufficient evidence to find for the
conviction of armed robbery as to Ms. Hammoud.
Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's
conviction in an unpublished opinion. People v.
Williams, No. 316429 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 9, 2014).
Petitioner subsequently filed an application for leave to
appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court which raised the same
claims as he raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The
Michigan Supreme Court denied the application because it was