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Vinson v. Mackie

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

December 6, 2016

KARL F. VINSON, Petitioner,
THOMAS MACKIE, Respondent.


          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         Petitioner Karl Vinson, presently confined at the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his application, filed through his attorneys, David A. Moran and Imran J. Syed of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, petitioner challenges his conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520(b)(1)(a)(victim under 13 years of age), and breaking and entering a building with the intent to commit a felony (CSC) therein, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110. For the reasons which follow, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus will be denied pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 2244(b)(4).



         The relevant facts of Petitioner's conviction were outlined 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):

This matter arises from the brutal rape of a nine-year-old female victim in her own bed. The victim was asleep when she awoke to find a man in her bedroom. She indicated that she was able to see his facial features because lights, both within the home and outside, provided illumination within the room. The victim identified Vinson, claiming that she had seen him previously and she recognized his voice, although she could not immediately recall his name. She was further able to identify Vinson as her assailant because she was familiar with him since his wife had babysat her and her younger sister. Vinson's mother and her husband provided an alibi for him at trial, indicating that he was sleeping on their couch at the time of the assault.
Following the assault, the victim was taken to the hospital. She experienced a bloody discharge and a deep cut requiring surgical repair. A specimen of vaginal secretions was obtained from the victim revealing the presence of nonmoving sperm; however, the specimen was not provided for forensic testing.
Fingerprints were not able to be recovered from the window casing where the perpetrator entered the victim's bedroom. The victim's bed sheet, containing a “kind of wet” bloodstain, was taken into evidence. The bed sheet was examined by Sergeant Ronald Badascewski of the Crime Lab Serology and Trace Evidence Unit. Sergeant Badascewski performed an acid phosphatase test on the stained area with a positive result for blood and seminal fluid. After washing the stain from the portion of the sheet, Sergeant Badascewski placed the washing on a microscope slide and found one complete sperm. He then turned over a portion of the stain to Paula Lytle, a registered medical technologist, in order to determine the blood type of the stained area. Lytle detected the presence of blood type O from the sample, which was consistent with the victim. At trial, Lytle acknowledged that she only received one sample from the bed sheet stain and that she did not receive the sperm recovered by Sergeant Badascewski for testing. When questioned by the prosecutor, Lytle opined that the sample she examined contained a mixture or combination of blood and seminal fluid.
Lytle also obtained a blood and saliva sample from the victim and determined that her blood type was O and that she was a secretor. A secretor is defined as:
An individual whose bodily fluids (saliva, semen, vaginal secretions) contain a water-soluble form of the antigens of the ABO blood group. Secretors constitute 80% of the population. In forensic medicine, the examination of fluids has enhanced the ability of law enforcement officials to develop identifying information about perpetrators and narrow a field of suspects. [See mediLexicon, http://www.medi (accessed May 24, 2012).]
Blood and saliva samples were also obtained from Vinson. Lytle determined at that time that Vinson's blood type was AB and that he was a nonsecretor, defined as “[a]n individual [whose bodily fluids] and saliva that do[ ] not contain antigens of the ABO blood group.” Id.
During closing argument at trial, the prosecutor stated that the bed sheet contained a mixture of blood and seminal fluid and argued that the stain came from Vinson and the victim. The prosecution stated that Vinson was a nonsecretor “along with 20 percent of the population.” The implication of this statement was that Vinson's status as a nonsecretor explained the absence of any detectable AB antigens from the stained bed sheet. The prosecutor also noted that the victim knew Vinson and had no motivation to lie regarding his identity as the perpetrator and questioned the veracity of Vinson's alibi defense.
Although the jury initially requested the testimony of all the expert witnesses, they rescinded the request and subsequently found Vinson guilty of first-degree CSC and breaking and entering. Along with the denial of Vinson's initial appeal to this Court following his convictions, he also subsequently filed three motions for relief from judgment and a federal petition for habeas corpus, all of which were unsuccessful. Vinson later learned that the physical evidence, including the bed sheet, was destroyed by police. In 2009, Vinson obtained retesting and analysis confirmed that his blood type is AB. Contrary to the evidence at trial, the 2009 analysis revealed that Vinson actually is a secretor. These results were confirmed by an independent laboratory.
In September 2009, Vinson again sought relief from judgment premised on prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance by his trial and appellate counsel, and newly discovered evidence of his status as an AB secretor. The matter came back before the original trial judge, who questioned the ability to demonstrate Vinson's innocence. The trial judge speculated that Vinson could have been using a condom at the time of the assault, but defense counsel responded that, at trial, the prosecution had argued that the semen had come from the rapist. The trial judge ordered the Michigan State Police (MSP) to determine Vinson's blood type and secretor status, and on August 20, 2010, the MSP report confirmed that Vinson is an AB secretor of ABO antigens.
At the ensuing evidentiary hearing, Lytle was called to testify. Following her confirmation of her trial testimony along with the testing originally conducted and results, she acknowledged recent testing demonstrating Vinson's secretor status. Following questioning, Lytle opined that testing on a semen stain differed from the testing performed on a blood stain to determine blood type. Lytle affirmed that the sample tested contained a mixture of semen and blood and, when asked where the type O in the stain originated, Lytle replied that it could not have come from Vinson, but that it could have come from the semen donor and/or the victim. Further, if the type O detected in the stain originated from the victim, then it would have come from her bodily fluid and not her blood. Lytle further opined, on the basis of the results obtained through the acid phosphatase test performed by Sergeant Badascewski, that there was a very high presence of semen in the stain that she tested. She deemed it unlikely that the victim, due to her young age, would have vaginal secretions. Lytle confirmed that she did not detect any AB antigenic substances.
On cross-examination, Lytle acknowledged she did not test the “exact same piece of material” that Sergeant Badascewski tested and detected the presence of seminal fluid. As Lytle did not repeat the test performed by Sergeant Badascewski or examine the section of the bed sheet she received for sperm cells, she could not determine if the material she received contained semen. Lytle further admitted that she might have cut additional samples from the bed sheet and performed additional testing had she known Vinson's status as a secretor. Upon questioning by the trial judge, Lytle indicated that she had originally testified that Vinson was a nonsecretor and that she now believed that the O antigen detected could have been from a male donor of the semen. When asked if she had known Vinson was a secretor during the original trial, Lytle indicated she “would testify that his blood type was not detected ... and he could not be the donor of the O substance in that stain.”
Additional hearings were conducted, with defense counsel presenting Arthur Young, an expert in forensic serology, who confirmed Vinson's status as an “ABO type AB secretor” and that Vinson was a “very strong secretor.” Young further testified that he would have expected semen to be mixed in with the blood on the bed sheet and that the O antigens detected were more probably from semen rather than the victim's vaginal secretions. In contrast, the prosecution's witness Connie Swander of the MSP laboratory indicated that it was possible that the O antigen detected was derived from the victim's blood. Swander opined that the only known fact was the presence of an O antigen but that its origin could not be ascertained. She further opined that, despite the victim's young age, vaginal fluid could be in the stain. Swander did admit that she could not rule out the possibility that the blood type of the perpetrator of the assault was O.

People v. Vinson, No. 303593, 2012 WL 3046236, at *1-3, (Mich. Ct. App. July 26, 2012).

         After holding the post-conviction hearing, the trial court denied petitioner's motion for relief from judgment, finding:

But the question is, would this new evidence have caused a different result? Now, that's what I understand the standard is.
That young lady's identification the -- only thing that the scientific evidence would have done would have bolstered her testimony. And in this case, I don't think anybody could conclude. And as I remember Paula Lytle testifying here recently, nobody could say that that was from the rapist. I don't remember her saying that.
And this Court is not convinced that it would cause a different result in this case. And because of that, I'm going to deny your motion.

See 3/28/2011 Tr. P. 40, ECF No. 5-25.

         In response to the denial Petitioner filed a motion for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Court of appeals denied Petitioner's motion upon finding that the new evidence “does not serve to establish Vinson's ‘actual innocence.'” People v. Vinson, No. 303593, 2012 WL 3046236, at * 1, 7, (Mich. Ct. App. July 26, 2012). The Michigan Supreme Court also denied Petitioner ...

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