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Williams v. Jackson

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

March 6, 2017

SEBASTIAN WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
SHANE JACKSON, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Arthur J. Tarnow, Senior United States District Judge

         Petitioner 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.

         I. Background

         Williams' 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:

         Andre 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).

         Williams 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.

         Williams 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).

         On 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).

         Williams filed the pending habeas petition on December 11, 2015. He raises these claims:

I. Actual innocence.
II. Prosecutorial ...

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