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Jones v. Bauman

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

April 28, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [docket entry 1]. Petitioner challenges his convictions for five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(a), and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520c(1)(a). He seeks habeas corpus relief on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Respondent has filed an answer arguing that petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim is meritless. The Court denies the petition and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner's convictions arise from the sexual assaults of J.R., who was only nine-years old when petitioner began abusing her. The Michigan Court of Appeals summarized the circumstances leading to petitioner's convictions as follows:

The victim, 12 years old at the time of trial, lived with her mother. Defendant, a friend of the victim's older brother, began caring for the victim when her mother was away and practically lived in the home. When the victim was nine years old, she became involved in a sexual relationship with defendant. Their first sexual encounter occurred when they went upstairs to a bedroom and defendant rubbed his penis against her vagina. After this initial encounter, the victim and defendant would have sex almost every other day, including oral and anal sex.
One particular occasion occurred in September 2010, when the victim and defendant were engaged in vaginal intercourse in the living room. One of the victim's brothers and his friend looked through the window and saw defendant and the victim. Defendant told the victim to leave the house and that he would tell her brother it was a different girl. However, the victim's brother testified that he saw the victim and defendant having sex. The friend also testified that he saw defendant having sex with a girl, but he could not see the girl's face. Both the brother and his friend testified that defendant told them not to tell anyone and that he was with a different girl.
The victim admitted that she had been suspended from school on numerous occasions and that she had been placed on a tether. She also indicated that she had been sent to a mental hospital. The victim's mother testified that the victim had some truancy problems that worsened over time, and that the victim was admitted to Hawthorne, a psychiatric hospital, after refusing to go to school.
According to the victim, her mother paid for two cellular phones with which the victim and defendant would exchange text messages. Defendant referred to the victim as “baby babe” or “wifey” in some of the text messages. The victim also claimed that she told a school counselor that she was having sex with defendant. The counselor, however, testified that the victim said she was having sex with a male classmate, although the counselor did not believe her. The counselor contacted child protective services and the victim's mother, communicating suspicions that the victim might be pregnant.
The victim also recalled one time when she was 11 years old and her friend was spending the night. While the victim and defendant were having sex, the friend walked into the bedroom. The friend testified to seeing the victim's vagina in defendant's mouth, and that defendant said he would kill himself if they told anyone about the relationship. The victim then sent a message to her friend's mother, confessing that she was having sex with defendant. The victim's parents were notified, and they took the victim to the hospital for a physical examination.
Because the victim recently had sex with defendant, nurses took a number of samples including a swab of the victim's neck because defendant would suck on and kiss her neck. A certified sexual assault nurse examiner testified that the victim stated that she had sex with defendant and he threatened to kill himself if she refused. The nurse testified that the vaginal examination was consistent with the victim's reported history.[1]
An expert in forensic biology and DNA analysis testified that DNA from the victim's neck was consistent with defendant's DNA. The expert explained that the sample was more consistent with direct contact, not a secondary transfer that would occur if the victim touched a surface with defendant's body fluid and then touched her neck. Another person's DNA, not belonging to the victim or defendant, was detected but the sample was too small to be used as a match.
After reporting the sexual relationship, the victim participated in two Kids Talk interviews.[2] Before the first Kids Talk interview, defendant told the victim that they could get out of the situation and be together if she denied that they had sex. Accordingly, the victim denied having sex with defendant and reported that she had sex with two boys at school. Before her second interview with Kids Talk, the victim smoked marijuana and had sex with defendant. She claimed that during this second interview, she told the truth about having sex with defendant.
The victim and defendant continued their sexual relationship even after the second Kids Talk interview. The victim testified that she last had sex with defendant in a car parked at the West Chester Towers, he lost his cellular phone, and he was arrested when they returned home. Defendant, however, testified that he was looking for his cellular phone in the car and the victim came out to apologize to him and tell him that she would fix the situation. The arresting police officer testified that he saw defendant leaning outside of a parked car and saw a female exit the car and go into a nearby house.
At trial, defendant testified to a much different version of events. He claimed that he considered the victim to be like a sibling and that he did not look at her in a sexual way. He denied using her mother's cellular phone for text messages. He claimed that he had sex in the house with girlfriends, and that when the victim's brother and friend saw him in living room, he was having sex with one of his girlfriends. Defendant also testified that the victim was out of control and that she hung out with boyfriends all the time. According to defendant, the victim was involved in a sexual relationship with her friend's brother, ...

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