United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
WILLIE C. BASSETT, JR., Petitioner,
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
HONORABLE JOHN CORBETT O'MEARA UNITED STATES DISTRICT
C. Bassett, Jr., (“Petitioner”), confined at the
Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, seeks
the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. In his pro se application, petitioner
challenges his conviction for first degree felony murder,
M.C.L.A. 750.316(1)(b); first-degree child abuse, M.C.L.A.
750.136b(2); and second-degree child abuse, M.C.L.A.
750.136b(3). For the reasons stated below, the application
for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
was convicted by a jury in the Wayne 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.
Defendant's convictions arise from the death of his
three-month-old infant daughter, BB. According to the
testimony of medical experts, BB died from non-accidental
head trauma. During the day preceding BB's admission to
the hospital and her subsequent death, the child was in
defendant's sole care.
People v. Bassett, No. 315568, 2014 WL 6602427, at
*1 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 20, 2014).
conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. 498
Mich. 871, 868 N.W.2d 887 (2015); reconsideration
den. 499 Mich. 859, 873 N.W.2d 554 (2016).
seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:
I. The trial judge violated defendant's constitutional
due process right to a fair trial.
II. Defendant was denied his constitutional right to the
effective assistance of counsel.
III. Defendant was denied his constitutional due process
right to a fair trial when the trial court allowed the
introduction of prior acts of domestic violence that were
irrelevant and prejudicial.
IV. Defendant was denied his constitutional due process right
to a fair trial when the trial court admitted evidence of
defendant's bad character, the mother's good
character, and prior injuries to the baby. The
prosecutor's urging the jury to convict on that basis
qualifies as misconduct.
V. The trial court reversibly erred in overruling the defense
objection to a jury instruction when the evidence did not
support any claim that the defendant was an accessory after
VI. The verdict is against the great weight of the evidence.
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 (2004)). Therefore, in order to obtain habeas relief in
federal court, a state prisoner is required to show that the
state court's rejection of his claim “was so
lacking in justification that there was an error well
understood and ...