United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
K. Majzoub United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marie King (“Petitioner”), filed for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In her
application, filed pro se, Petitioner challenges her
conviction for first-degree felony murder, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.316(1)(b), first degree criminal sexual conduct
(CSC), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(a), and
first-degree child abuse, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.136b(2). The trial court sentenced Petitioner to
mandatory life imprisonment for the murder conviction and to
concurrent prison terms of 30 to 50 years for the
first-degree CSC conviction and 86 to 180 months for the
first-degree child abuse conviction. For the reasons stated
below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
was convicted following a jury trial in the Macomb County
Circuit Court. This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts
relied upon 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):
The jury found that defendant killed her two-year-old
stepdaughter, LFW. Defendant was home alone with LFW. A few
hours later, after a 911 call, emergency personnel arrived at
defendant's house and discovered that the child was dead.
Medical evidence indicated that the child had multiple
contusions about her body, including at least 20 different
areas of bruising to the head. She also had a serious injury
to her vagina and perineum. The medical examiner determined
that the child died from cardiorespiratory arrest as a result
of the head injuries and classified the death as a homicide.
Defendant claimed that the child's injuries were
inflicted accidentally when defendant was holding her and
dropped her, or when defendant fell while holding her, or
People v. King, No. 309974, 2014 WL 1320155, *1
(Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 1, 2014). Petitioner's conviction
was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. 497 Mich. 903,
856 N.W.2d 45 (2014).
seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:
I. The trial court violated appellant's due process
rights by allowing the prosecutor to introduce unfairly
prejudicial evidence of an alleged incident involving the
decedent, not tending to show motive, intent, or absence of
II. The police violated appellant's due process rights by
failing to scrupulously honor appellant's demand for a
lawyer and to stop the custodial interrogation at the
hospital; alternatively, defense trial counsel was
constitutionally ineffective in failing to call one of
appellant's treating doctors to establish that appellant
was in custody and not free to leave the hospital at the time
III. The trial court was required to score and consider the
sentencing guidelines for first-degree criminal sexual
conduct and first-degree child abuse, which were the highest
crime class felony convictions because there is no crime
class for first-degree felony murder.
Dkt. No. 1, pp. 14-19 (Pg. ID 14-19).
Standard of Review
U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), imposes the
following standard of review for habeas cases:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the adjudication of the claim-
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
decision of a state court is “contrary to”
clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at
a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on
a question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially
indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An “unreasonable
application” occurs when “a state court decision
unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the
facts of a prisoner's case.” Id. at 409. A
federal habeas court may not “issue the writ simply
because that court concludes in its independent judgment that
the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established
federal law erroneously or incorrectly.” Id.
at 410-11. “[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)
(citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664
in order to obtain habeas relief in federal court, a state
prisoner is required to show that the state court's
rejection of her claim “was so lacking in justification
that there was an error well understood and comprehended in
existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded
disagreement.” Id. at 103. A habeas petitioner
should be denied relief as long as it is within the
“realm of possibility” that fairminded jurists
could find the state court decision to be reasonable. See
Woods v. Etherton, 136 S.Ct. 1149, 1152 (2016).
Claim # 1: The other acts evidence claim.
alleges that her due process rights were violated when the
trial court allowed the prosecutor to introduce prejudicial
evidence of an alleged incident involving the victim that did
not tend to show motive, intent, or the absence of accident.
Dkt. No. 1, pp. 14-15 (Pg. ID 14-15).
“not the province of a federal habeas court to
reexamine state-court determinations on state-court
questions.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62,
67-68 (1991). A federal court is limited in federal habeas
review to deciding whether a state court conviction violates
the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
Id. Errors in the application of state law,
especially rulings regarding the admissibility of evidence,
are usually not questioned by a federal habeas court.
Seymour v. Walker, 224 F.3d 542, 552 (6th Cir.
2000); see also Regan v. Hoffner, 209 F.Supp.2d 703,
714 (E.D. Mich. 2002).
claim that the state court violated Michigan Rule of Evidence
404(b) or any other provision of state law by admitting
evidence of her prior acts of child abuse against the victim
is non-cognizable on habeas review. See Bey v.
Bagley, 500 F.3d 514, 519 (6th Cir. 2007);
Estelle, 502 U.S. at 72 (“Nor do our habeas
powers allow us to reverse [Petitioner's] conviction
based on a belief that the trial judge incorrectly
interpreted the [State] Evidence Code in ruling that the
prior injury evidence was admissible as bad acts evidence in
admission of this “prior bad acts” or
“other acts” evidence against Petitioner at her
state trial does not entitle her to habeas relief, because
there is no clearly established Supreme Court precedent
holding that a state violates a habeas petitioner's due
process rights by admitting propensity evidence in the form
of “prior bad acts” evidence. See Bugh v.