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Raines v. Klee

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

October 31, 2016

PAUL D. KLEE, Respondent.


          Denise Page Hood Chief Judge

         Petitioner Terrance Raines filed this application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner was convicted after he pled guilty in the Wayne Circuit Court to second-degree murder. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317. Petitioner was sentenced to 22½ to 35 years' imprisonment. The petition raises a single claim: Petitioner was denied the right to the effective assistance of counsel when his trial attorney failed to adequately consult with him and failed to pursue a meritorious defense. The Court will deny the petition because the claim is without merit. The Court will also deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability and deny Petitioner permission to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis.

         I. Background

         The charges against Petitioner arose after he strangled Kiara Coachman to death in her apartment after the two consumed drugs and alcohol. Petitioner then stole and sold Coachman's cell phone. Petitioner was originally charged with first-degree felony murder and with being a habitual felony offender.

         Petitioner was referred for a report on his competency on January 5, 2012. Dkt. 7-1, at 2. Petitioner was found to be competent after a hearing held on February 16, 2012. Id.

         At the preliminary examination, held on February 28, 2012, the parties stipulated to the fact that the victim died of strangulation and that she had a blood alcohol content of .04 percent. Dkt. 7-2, at 6-8. Detroit police officer Scott Shea testified at the exam that he interviewed Petitioner on September 13, 2011, after he was read and waived his constitutional rights. Id., at 12-14, 29. Petitioner's statement was reduced to writing. Id., at 30-36. Petitioner stated that he entered the victim's apartment and found her dead. He touched both sides of her neck, and then took her cell phone. Id., at 31-35.

         Petitioner was subsequently interviewed by the FBI, and he admitted in this interview that he strangled the victim. Id., at 44-53. Petitioner stated “I choked Kiara due to drugs and alcohol . . . I'm sorry but I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.” Id., at 45. He had been using drugs for a “couple of days straight.” Id., at 48.

         Another competency hearing was held in August of 2012, after which Petitioner was determined to be competent. Dkt. 7-1, at 3. A report was also generated on August 24, 2012, regarding Petitioner's criminal responsibility. Id. An order for an independent psychiatric evaluation on Petitioner's criminal responsibility was entered on August 28, 2012.

         A plea agreement was reached on June 28, 2013. Dkt. 7-3. Defense counsel indicated that he had spoken with Petitioner in some detail, and Petitioner was prepared to accept the prosecutor's plea offer. Id., at 3. Petitioner signed a copy of the plea agreement. Id., at 3-4. The prosecutor indicated that the agreement called for Petitioner to plead guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder with a sentencing agreement of 22½ to 35 years, and the charge of first-degree murder would be dismissed. Id., at 4-5. Defense counsel indicated that was also his understanding of the agreement. Id., at 5.

         Petitioner was placed under oath. Id. He stated he was 46 years old, could read and right, and he understood what was happening. Id., at 6. Petitioner stated he talked about the plea with his attorney, and he understood the consequences of entering a guilty plea. Id., at 7. He indicated his satisfaction with his attorney's performance. Id. He understood that the original charge of first-degree murder carried a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment. Id.

         Petitioner was then informed of all the rights he would be waiving by entering his plea. Id., at 8-9. These included the right to a jury trial, the right to a bench trial, the presumption of innocence, the right to have witnesses against him appear at trial, the right to cross-examine the witnesses against him, the right to call his own witnesses, the right to compulsory process, and the right to remain silent or testify in his own defense. Id. 8-9. Petitioner acknowledged that, knowing all those rights, he wised to give them up and plead guilty. Id., at 9.

         Petitioner denied that anyone made any promises to him other than what was placed on the record. Id., at 10. He also denied that anyone had threatened or coerced him into entering his plea. Id. Petitioner affirmed that he was pleading guilty voluntarily and of his own free will. Id. He indicated that he wished to plead guilty to second-degree murder. Id., at 11.

         Petitioner then gave a factual basis for his plea. He testified that on September 7, 2011, he went to Kiera Coachman's apartment. Id. Petitioner explained, “me and Mrs. Coachman was using drugs and alcohol. We got into a confrontation, and I strangled her.” Id., at 11-12. The court found that Petitioner's plea was understanding, voluntary, and accurate. Id.

         Petitioner was subsequently sentenced under the terms of the plea agreement. Petitioner was appointed appellate counsel who filed a motion to withdraw the plea. A hearing was held on the motion, where counsel asserted that Petitioner had a history of mental illness that prevented him from knowing that he would become intoxicated when he consumed drugs and alcohol, ...

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