United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1), (2) DECLINING TO ISSUE CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY, AND (3) GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Deondra Terrell Williams (“Williams”) is a state
prisoner confined at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in
Kincheloe, Michigan. On February 18, 2014, Williams filed a
petition in this Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the
“Petition”). (See ECF #1.) In the
Petition, Williams challenges his state-court convictions for
first-degree felony murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to
commit armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony (felony-firearm). For the reasons
stated below, the Petition is DENIED.
December 16, 2010, following a bench trial in the Genesee
County Circuit Court, Judge Richard B. Yuille found
Petitioner guilty of first-degree felony murder, M.C.L.
§ 750.316(1)(b), armed robbery, M.C.L. § 750.529,
conspiracy to commit armed robbery, M.C.L. §§
750.157a and 750.529, and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony (felony-firearm), M.C.L. §
750.227b. (See 12/16/2010 Trial Tr., ECF #10-14.)
The Michigan Court of Appeals recited the relevant facts of
the charged offenses as follows:
On September 21, 2008, Saba's Mini Mart was robbed and
the clerk, Monir Alyatim, was shot and killed. The
surveillance footage presented to the jury shows three men
entering the store shortly after 11:00 p.m. The first subject
to appear is wearing dark pants and a dark hooded sweatshirt
with the hood up. Shortly thereafter, a second subject is
seen running up to the front counter. The second subject
jumps on the counter, puts his arm over the bulletproof
glass, and points a handgun in the direction of the clerk.
While the second subject is on the counter, a third subject
is seen inside the store holding a pistol grip shotgun. The
clerk is seen emptying the registers and handing the money to
the second subject. After taking the money, the second
subject shoots the clerk and flees the scene with the other
subjects. [Petitioner], [co-defendant Geoffrey] Lawson, and
[co-defendant Cortez] Bailey were eventually identified as
being involved in the robbery and murder. Lawson was
identified as the person who shot the clerk, while
[Petitioner] was identified as the suspect holding the pistol
People v. Williams, 2012 WL 2402027, at *1 (Mich.
Ct. App. June 26, 2012). The Michigan Court of Appeals
affirmed Petitioner's conviction, and the Michigan
Supreme Court denied Petitioner leave to appeal. See
id.; lv. den., 822 N.W.2d 779 (Mich. 2012).
now seeks habeas relief on three grounds: he insists that the
Michigan Court of Appeals unreasonably rejected his arguments
that (1) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of
felony murder, (2) he was denied a fair trial based on
alleged misconduct of the state-court prosecutor, and (3) he
was denied the effective assistance of counsel. (See
Petition at 3, ECF #1 at Pg. ID 3.)
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), as amended by The Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”),
limits a federal court's review of constitutional claims
raised by a state prisoner in a habeas action where the
claims were adjudicated on the merits by the state courts.
Pursuant to Section 2254(d)(1), relief is barred unless the
state court adjudication was “contrary to” or
resulted in an “unreasonable application of”
clearly established federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . .
clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court
cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from
[this] precedent.'” Mitchell v. Esparza,
540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)).
‘unreasonable application' prong of [Section
2254(d)(1)] permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant
the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing
legal principle from [the Supreme] Court but unreasonably
applies that principle to the facts' of petitioner's
case.” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520
(2003) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413). “A
state court's determination that a claim lacks merit
precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded
jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state
court's decision.” Harrington v. Richter,
562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough v.
Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)).
2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a guard
against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice
systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction
through appeal. . . . As a condition for obtaining habeas
corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that
the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in
federal court was so lacking in justification that there was
an error well understood and comprehended in existing law
beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 103.