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Gardner v. Woods

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

January 3, 2017

JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.



         This is a habeas case filed by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Jurdunn Gardner was convicted after a jury trial in the Wayne Circuit Court of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, and assault with a dangerous weapon. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82. Petitioner was sentenced to 12 to 20 years for the robbery conviction and 1 to 4 years for the assault conviction. The petition raises three claims: 1) the prosecutor committed misconduct during trial, 2) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury regarding the unanimity requirement as to which act constituted armed robbery, 3) the trial court erroneously failed to consider Petitioner's medical records during sentencing. The court will deny the petition because Petitioner's claims are without merit.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner's convictions stem from allegations that he and his co-defendant, Angela Siblani, robbed Rodney Simpson at Petitioner's residence in Detroit.

         At trial, Simpson testified that he met Siblani, a prostitute, two weeks before the incident. On the date of the robbery, Simpson met Siblani at a gas station. Siblani got into Simpson's truck and quoted a price for oral sex, and the two then drove back to Petitioner and Siblani's apartment.

         Petitioner and another man were present at the apartment. Simpson gave Petitioner six dollars to get some beer, and Petitioner and the other man left. Simpson and Siblani then went into her bedroom. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the window, and Petitioner reentered the apartment. Simpson testified that Petitioner pointed a pistol at him and demanded money. Simpson replied that he had no more money, but Siblani told Petitioner that she saw Simpson cash a $100 bill at the gas station. Simpson then gave Petitioner $40.00. Petitioner told Simpson to leave the apartment, struck him in the back of the head with a cane, and broke his truck window with the cane.

         Simpson called the police and waited outside in his parked truck. When the police failed to respond, he drove to the local precinct to make a report. Police officers then followed him back to the area, and Simpson identified the apartment where the incident occurred.

         Detroit Police Investigator Jeffrey Jones testified that he interviewed both Siblani and Petitioner. Siblani stated that she agreed to perform oral sex on Simpson for $40.00 at the apartment she shared with Petitioner. As she was straddling Simpson, Petitioner saw them and apparently thought they were having intercourse. Petitioner picked up a cane and demanded more money from Simpson for the additional sex act. Simpson gave Petitioner more money but later requested a refund. Petitioner used the cane to smash a window on Simpson's truck.

         Jones then interviewed Petitioner. Petitioner stated that after leaving the apartment he saw Siblani straddling Simpson through a window instead of simply performing oral sex. Petitioner returned and demanded more money from Simpson. Simpson replied that he had no more. When Siblani reported that Simpson had more money, Petitioner admitted that he threatened Simpson with a cane to come up with the money. Simpson then gave Petitioner $60.00 and two $10.00 rocks of cocaine hidden in his shoe.

         Based on this evidence the jury convicted Petitioner of armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

         Following his conviction and sentence, Petitioner filed a claim of appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising two claims that are not presented in this action. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions in an unpublished opinion. People v. Gardner, No. 308501, 2014 WL 198719 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 16, 2014). Petitioner did not file an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court.

         Petitioner then returned to the trial court and filed a motion for relief from judgment, raising the following claims:

I. The prosecutor [sic] improper conduct operated to deny defendant appellant Gardner a fair trial pursuant to U.S. Const. Amendment Fourteen.
II. Defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the judge not giving a jury instruction as to the elements of not being charged with a gun, but the discussion of a gun being present at the ...

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