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Conley v. Rapelje

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

January 3, 2017

Antoine Conley, Petitioner,
v.
Lloyd Rapelje, Respondent.

          R. Steven Whalen, Mag. Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS [1] WITH PREJUDICE, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          JUDITH E. LEVY, United States District Judge

         Petitioner Antoine Conley filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his convictions of unlawful imprisonment, felonious assault, domestic violence (third offense), felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of a firearm during a felony. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied.

         I. Background

         This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied on 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 2011 prosecution stems from events occurring on or about 2011 New Year's Day. Early in the morning of January 1, 2011, the victim, defendant's girlfriend, was spotted on the side of road by a passing motorist. She told the motorist that defendant had beaten her, and she asked to be taken to her mother's home. The victim's mother testified that her daughter said defendant beat her with a gun, tore off her clothes, and forced her into a closet at her residence. The police were called and arrived thereafter. A police officer testified that the victim told him how defendant had beaten her with his fists and a gun, how he had torn off her clothing, and how he had forced her into a closet and would not allow her to leave. At the hospital, the same officer asked her to write out her prior statement, which she did. The emergency room physician who attended to the victim testified that her injuries were consistent with blunt-force trauma. Defendant was subsequently apprehended as he slept at the victim's residence. A loaded semiautomatic pistol was found under his bed. Bullets were found in a crawlspace, and one was found in a child's car seat.
At trial, the victim testified to a lack of memory of the events of New Year's. She believed she had been intoxicated at the time. She recognized her handwritten police statement but testified to a lack of memory with respect to writing it. She did remember, however, that a police officer told her that he would not leave the hospital until she wrote out a statement. She denied that the officer told her what to write. . . .
Testimony introduced at trial indicated that defendant assaulted the victim sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and that until she fled, she was in a closet and threatened with further violence if she left the closet. Defendant had also been brandishing a loaded gun. Around 7 a.m., a motorist saw the victim on the side of the road trying to flag someone down. He described her as disheveled, disoriented, and “[s]omewhat hysterical.” He then drove her to the home of her mother, who described her daughter as crying and half-dressed, with her “hair falling out” and her eyes swollen nearly shut. The victim's mother believed that the victim was panicked and scared, not knowing what to do. Subsequently, the victim was interviewed by a police officer, who described her as shaking and crying with marks, bruises, and cuts on her. There was no evidence that the victim engaged in ordinary activities, consulted others, or contemplated her story between the assault and her disclosures.

People v. Conley, No. 304309, 2012 Mich.App. LEXIS 2053, at *1-2, 5-6 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 18, 2012).

         Petitioner was convicted by a jury in St. Clair County Circuit Court of unlawful imprisonment, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349b, felonious assault, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82, assault and battery of an individual with whom he has or has had a dating relationship, third offense, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.81(4), felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (“felony firearm”). Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. (See Dkt. 8-6.) On May 9, 2011, he was sentenced, as enhanced by habitual offender, fourth, to concurrent prison terms of fifteen to twenty-five years for unlawful imprisonment, three to fifteen years for felonious assault imprisonment, three to fifteen years for domestic violence imprisonment, and six to ten years for felon in possession of a firearm imprisonment. (Dkt. 8-7 at 8-9.) He was also sentenced to two years for felony firearm, to run consecutive to the unlawful imprisonment, felonious assault, and felon in possession sentences. (Id. at 9.)

         Petitioner filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing that: the victim's hearsay statements were improperly admitted; there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction of unlawful imprisonment; there were evidentiary errors; the prosecutor committed misconduct; the trial court erred in denying motion to suppress; and the victim's written statement was improperly admitted. (Dkt. 8-8 at 8-31.) The Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's claims and affirmed his convictions and sentences. Conley, 2012 Mich.App. LEXIS 2053, at *18.

         Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims that he raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. (Dkt. 8-9 at 2-19.) The Michigan Supreme Court summarily denied leave to appeal. People v. Conley, 494 Mich. 852 (2013).

         Petitioner then filed the pending habeas petition, raising two claims he previously raised in the state courts: the prosecutor committed misconduct during her closing argument; and there was insufficient evidence to convict for unlawful imprisonment. (See Dkt. 1.)

         II. ...


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