United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS AND GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
J. Tarnow, Senior United States District Judge
Sebastian Williams has filed a pro se petition for a
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Williams
challenges his convictions for first-degree premeditated
murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony. Respondent, through the Attorney
General's Office, has filed a Motion for Dismissal of
Petition for Habeas Corpus on the ground that the petition
was not timely filed. The Court finds that the petition was
not timely filed and that Williams is not entitled to
equitable tolling of the limitations period. Respondent's
motion is granted.
convictions arise from the killing of Tommie Lee Blanchard at
his home in the City of Detroit. The Michigan Court of
Appeals summarized the circumstances leading to Williams'
convictions as follows:
Nelson and Tommie Lee Blanchard were at
Blanchard's house in March of 1990, when the door was
suddenly kicked in. Five men entered the residence, some of
whom wore ski masks. Nelson was ordered to lay on the floor,
and his hands were taped behind his back. At some point
during the ordeal Nelson lost consciousness. Upon regaining
consciousness, Nelson realized that his wallet and pinkie
ring were missing. Blanchard was found dead in an upstairs
bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head.
At trial Nelson testified that he recognized one of the
intruder's voices as belonging to defendant Williams.
Additionally, Sammy Woods, who admitted to being
“high” on drugs and alcohol on the date in
question, testified that he saw defendants Williams and
[co-defendant] Marcelis on Blanchard's porch with three
other men. Moreover, Woods stated that he saw Marcelis kick
the door in. Blanchard's brother, Leroy, who was at the
residence following his brother's death, testified that
he received a phone call from a person identifying himself as
“Kango.” The caller informed Leroy that
“we'll put on in you too.” Leroy recognized
the voice as belonging to defendant Williams.
People v. Williams, No. 141626 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr.
13, 1995) (ECF No. 11-5, Pg. ID 368-69).
was convicted by a jury in Recorder's Court for the City
of Detroit of felony murder, first-degree premeditated
murder, armed robbery, and felony firearm. On September 21,
1991, Williams was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of
the murder convictions and the armed robbery conviction, and
two years imprisonment for the felony-firearm conviction.
filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals,
arguing that his convictions for first-degree premeditated
and felony murder violated double jeopardy, insufficient
evidence was presented to show premeditation and deliberation
or to establish Williams' identity as one of the men who
entered the victim's home, the trial court erred in
failing to sua sponte provide the jury with an
identification instruction and improperly instructed the jury
on reasonable doubt. The Michigan Court of Appeals vacated
Williams' conviction and sentence for felony murder and
affirmed the convictions in all other respects. People v.
Williams, No. 141626 (Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 1995) (ECF
No. 11-5). The Michigan Supreme Court denied Williams'
application for leave to appeal. People v. Williams,
450 Mich. 960 (Mich. Dec. 27, 1995).
March 12, 2013, Williams filed a motion for relief from
judgment in the trial court raising these claims: (i) actual
innocence; (ii) ineffective assistance of trial counsel;
(iii) prosecutorial misconduct; (iv) due process denied by
the cumulative effect of the trial court errors; and (v)
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The trial court
denied the motion. 6/24/14 Opinion (ECF No. 11-8, Pg. ID
732-38). Williams filed a delayed application for leave to
appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, which denied leave
to appeal. People v. Williams, No. 325280 (Mich. Ct.
App. Feb. 26, 2015) (ECF No. 11-8, Pg. ID 664). The Michigan
Supreme Court also denied Williams' application for leave
to appeal. People v. Williams, 498 Mich. 949 (Mich.
Dec. 22, 2015).
filed the pending habeas petition on December 11, 2015. He
raises these claims:
I. Actual innocence.
II. Prosecutorial ...