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Love v. Klee

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

September 7, 2017

MENDO LOVE, Petitioner,
PAUL KLEE, Respondent.



         Petitioner, Mendo Love, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is incarcerated at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan. He challenges his convictions for first-degree premeditated murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (“felony-firearm”), claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Respondent, through the Attorney General's Office, has filed an answer in opposition to the petition, arguing that Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim is meritless. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the petition and denies a certificate of appealability.


         Petitioner's convictions arise from a December 3, 2010 shooting on Winthrop Street in Detroit, Michigan, which resulted in the death of Raymond Singleton, II.

         Raymond Singleton, II had two brothers: Dontae and Sir Lawrence Nance. In December 2010, Sir Lawrence Nance was dating Petitioner's sister, Mercedes. On December 3, 2010, Raymond, Dontae, and Sir Lawrence were at their family home, located at 14337 Winthrop, when Petitioner arrived with his cousin, Marquise. When the cousins arrived, Sir Lawrence was standing on the front porch and observed a white Cadillac parked outside his father's home. He also noted that Petitioner was wearing a baseball cap, but could not remember what it looked like. Dontae specified that it was a Michigan baseball cap. Raymond, Dontae, Petitioner, and Marquise sat in the basement, talking for ten to fifteen minutes before Petitioner and Marquise left to go to the liquor store. They came back with more liquor about twelve minutes later.

         When the cousins returned, the conversation turned to an argument between Mercedes' mother and Sir Lawrence that had occurred earlier in the day that had upset Petitioner's mother. Despite the discussion of the earlier argument, the mood in the basement was calm. The cousins stayed at the home for about thirty minutes and then left for the second time, saying they were going to the liquor store and would return shortly. Raymond accompanied them, but Dontae and Sir Lawrence stayed home. Mr. Singleton's family learned at about 8:00 that evening that Raymond had been shot.

         On the night of the shooting, Karl Long was at his cousin Earnest Johnson's house on Winthrop, and heard gunshots while sitting in the front room. They went out to the front porch and Mr. Long saw someone lying on the ground to the left of the house. He also observed a cream colored Cadillac and saw a person running toward it. When the individual reached the Cadillac, Mr. Long overheard him say “I got that mother fucker. He dead.” (ECF No. 5-7 at 77.) The individual then ran away through the yard, dropping his hat, and the driver of the Cadillac did a u-turn and drove away. Mr. Long approached the victim on the ground to see if he knew who it was, but he did not know Mr. Singleton.

         City of Detroit Police Officer Eric Carter was called out to 14011Winthrop on December 3, 2010. He and his partner, both plain clothes officers, were the first police on the scene of the shooting. After clearing a crowd of people away from the scene, Officer Carter went to assist Mr. Singleton, who was on his side on the ground. Mr. Singleton was bleeding and screaming that he had been shot and was going to die. When Officer Carter asked who had shot him, Mr. Singleton replied loudly that it was “Mendo Love.” (ECF No. 5-7 at 44.) He repeated the name at least three times. EMS arrived to transport Mr. Singleton to the hospital, and Officer Carter and his partner canvassed the neighborhood. About three houses south of where Mr. Singleton was lying on the ground, Officer Carter observed several shell casings and a discarded hat. He ordered a canine officer to see if the hat could be used for tracking.

         Officer Salisbury, a canine handler with the City of Detroit Police, arrived at the scene on December 3, 2010 with his tracking dog. The canine was able to use the hat for tracking purposes, continuing northbound from where the hat was found and through an alley, until reaching the Big V Liquor Store (“Liquor Store”) at 13963 Greenfield. The dog stopped tracking near the pay phone in the parking lot of the Liquor Store. Officer Carter obtained the store's surveillance video.

         Ron Gibson, a sergeant with the Detroit Police Department and expert in the area of forensic video extraction, was then called to the Liquor Store to extract the surveillance video. The video showed a light colored Cadillac parked between the curb and sidewalk in front of the store at 8:10 p.m. on December 3, 2010. An individual walked from the Cadillac to the store and then back to the car seven minutes later, at 8:17 p.m. The Cadillac pulled away from the curb onto Greenfield Avenue at 8:18 p.m., returned to nearly the same spot at 8:32 p.m., and pulled away three minutes later. The video then showed a canine officer's dog tracking to the building and entering at 8:56 p.m.

         Eugene Fitzhugh, a Detroit Police Officer assigned to the crime scene services unit, was called to 14011 Winthrop on December 3, 2010, where he was tasked with photographing the scene, as well as documenting and collecting evidence. He completed a four-page scene report, including a sketch of the area. He found two 40-caliber shell casings and a cell phone battery at the scene. In the driveway between 13944 and 13934 Winthrop, he found a baseball cap with the letter “M” on the front.

         Andrea Halvorson works in the biology unit of the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, and is an expert in DNA analysis. In the instant matter, she received swabs of a baseball hat, a known blood sample from Mr. Singleton, and a known buccal sample from Mr. Love. Ms. Halvorson found at least two donors associated with the baseball hat sample. The major donor was an unidentified male and she was unable to make a determination as to whether the minor donor was Mr. Love.

         Amanda Crocker is a latent fingerprint expert with the Department of State Police. She processed the cell phone battery that was found at the scene of the shooting for latent prints, but found none of comparison value.

         After a three-day trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, the jury deliberated for approximately one hour. At one point during the deliberation, the jury requested, among other things, the transcripts of the testimony of Mr. Singleton's brothers. The Court informed the jury that there were no transcripts and that they would need to use their “collective memories” to recollect the testimony. (ECF No. 5-8 at 74.) Both counsel agreed to this plan. After about 25 more minutes of jury deliberation, Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder and felony-firearm. ...

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