United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS, (2) DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND
(3) DENYING PERMISSION TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Corbett O'Meara United States District Judge.
a habeas case filed by a Michigan prisoner under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Petitioner Reginald Price was convicted after he
pled guilty in the Wayne Circuit Court to one count of second
degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317. Petitioner
was sentenced to 32½ to 60 years imprisonment. The
petition raises a single claim: Petitioner's plea was
involuntarily entered when he expressed confusion at the plea
hearing and his trial attorney told him he would receive life
in prison if he stood trial. The Court finds that
Petitioner's claim is without merit. Therefore, the
petition will be denied. The Court will also deny Petitioner
a certificate of appealability and deny permission to proceed
on appeal in forma pauperis.
was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the
beating death of Kimani Hicks. The incident was recorded on a
gas station's surveillance video system, and it showed
Petitioner beating the victim in the head with a baseball bat
in the parking lot.
Petitioner's preliminary examination, Hakima Hicks
testified that she was Kimani's sister. On May 9, 2012,
after receiving a call that her brother was hurt, she went to
a gas station in Detroit. When she arrived she saw her
brother being loaded into an ambulance. She visited him for
the three days he was at the hospital until his death, but
Kimani was never able to communicate with her. Dkt. 9-2, at
attendant at the gas station, Sattir Al-Mayali, testified he
was working on the date of the incident. Id., at 10.
Earlier in the day he saw Petitioner holding a baseball bat,
and he was angry. Id., at 10-11. Al-Mayali
identified Petitioner as the person holding the bat in the
videotape taken from the store's surveillance camera.
Id., at 11-12.
Police Officer Barron Townsend testified that on the evening
in question he was called to a gas station on a reported
assault and battery. Id., at 13-14. He found the
victim lying in the parking lot. Id., at 15. He was
bleeding profusely from the back of his head. Id.
The victim was alive, but he was unable to communicate.
Id., at 16.
Police Officer Brandon Smith testified that he worked for the
homicide section. Id., at 18. He interviewed
Petitioner on May 23, 2012. Id. Petitioner was
advised of his rights prior to the interview, and Petitioner
waived them and agreed to make a statement. Id., at
18-19. Petitioner described the incident as follows:
I was inside the gas station and I saw Kato through the
window. I went outside to confront him about stealing my bike
from me and pulling a gun on me at Palmer Park. I told him
what he and Cash did to me was wrong. I said give me my $15
back. He told me to go on somewhere before I get shot in the
head. It's going to be later tonight or tomorrow.
Then he put his fist up to fight me. That's when I hit
him the first time. He fell down then I kept hitting him in
his head. I walked away to Six Mile and Third and dropped the
Then I walked up to Urban Cutts at Six Mile and Second and
sat outside the shop. The police in a blue and white car
stopped me and talked to me. I told them I got into a fight.
They wrote down my name and let me go.
Id., at 21-22.
claimed that the victim had a gun on his hip when the
incident occurred. Id., at 22. No weapon was found
on the victim's body, however. Id., at 28.
Petitioner explained that the victim pulled a gun on him
previously, and during the incident “I must have had a
flashback of him pulling the gun.” Id., at 23.
Petitioner said that he was not trying to kill the victim,
and he “should have just hit him in the legs.”
Id. Petitioner identified himself in the videotape
assaulting the victim in the parking lot. Id.
video showed Petitioner hitting the victim in the head with
the bat. Id., at 23-24. As described by the
prosecutor: “there were first two blows which knocked
the decedent to the ground. The defendant then took the bat
way over his head and came down on the decedent. Then stepped
around the decedent, hit him two more times, then stepped
away and came back and hit him one additional time.
Id., at 28-29. The state district court bound
Petitioner over for trial in the circuit court on the charge
of first-degree murder. Id., at 30.
before trial was scheduled to begin, a plea bargain was
struck whereby Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to the
lesser charge of second-degree murder with a sentencing
agreement of 32½ to 60 years, and in exchange the
prosecutor dismissed the first-degree murder charge. Dkt.
9-3, at 2. Petitioner was place under oath, and he indicated
his desire to accept the plea bargain. Id., at 3.
Petitioner was advised that he was charged with first-degree
murder which carried a mandatory life term. Id., at
4. Petitioner was then advised of, and agreed to waive, all
of his trial rights. Id., at 4-5. Petitioner
indicated that he was entering his guilty plea of his own
free will. Id., at 5.
asked for a factual basis for the crime, Petitioner initially
stated that he threw a bottle at the victim, killing him, and
he denied hitting him with the baseball bat. Id., at
7. The Court immediately indicated that it would not accept
the plea, whereupon defense counsel stated to Petitioner,
“You know there's a baseball bat in the video that
they're going to play. . . . what do you want me to
do?” Id. The Court also asked Petitioner how
he wished to proceed, and Petitioner indicated,
“I'll plead guilty to it.” Id., at
Petitioner then testified to the following factual basis:
Court: Did you hit him with a baseball bat?
Petitioner: (No response)
Court: Yes or no?
Court: And as a result of you hitting him with the baseball
bat, to his head, he ...