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Jackson v. Palmer

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

September 22, 2017

CHARLES JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
CARMEN PALMER, Respondent,

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING (1) THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, (2) A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND (3), LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          PAUL D. BORMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Charles Jackson, (“petitioner”), incarcerated at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia, 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.CL.A. § 750.316(1)(b); armed robbery, M.CL.A. § 750.529; and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, M.CL.A. § 750.157a(a). For the reasons stated below, the application for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED

         WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court.

         Petitioner and several women, including his girlfriend, conspired to rob the victim. The plan called for petitioner's girlfriend and her best friend to engage in a three-way sex act with the victim. Petitioner entered the victim's house and struck the victim on the back of the head with a tree branch. When the victim fell, petitioner struck him again to prevent the victim from getting up. Petitioner hit the victim for a third time on the head, in order to render him unconscious. Petitioner and his accomplices subsequently searched the victim's home for money and stole some laptop computers. The victim died as a result of the attack.

         On the evening of July 11, 2012, Iashia Knox, Kristan Holmes, Zelda Taylor, and others were at Taylor's house drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Petitioner, who was Taylor's boyfriend, was also present. (Tr. 10/22/13, pp. 30-34, 56, 114, 130, 156; Tr. 10/23/13, p. 12). The people assembled at the house talked about “turning a trick” with the victim, Hassan Jaber, meaning they wanted to have sex with him in exchange for money. (Tr. 10/22/13, p. 57). The co-defendants agreed that Taylor and Knox would engage in a “threesome” with the victim at his home. (Id., p. 36). The plan called for one of the women to leave the door open during the sex act so that petitioner could come inside, “knock him [the victim] out, ” and search the house for money. (Id., pp. 36, 137; Tr. 10/23/13, p. 20). The group traveled to the victim's home. Taylor and Knox went inside, while Holmes and petitioner remained inside a car in front of the victim's house. (Tr. 10/22/13, pp. 64-65, 69). Taylor, Knox, and the victim went into a bedroom and took their clothes off and began kissing each other. (Id., pp. 66, 68, 70, 141). During this time, Taylor sent a text message to Holmes, which said, “Now.” (Id., p. 69). After receiving the text message, Holmes informed petitioner. Petitioner grabbed a tree branch, entered the house, and hit the victim on the back of the head with the branch three times. (Tr. 10/24/13, pp. 18-20).

         Petitioner admitted that he went to the victim's house after discovering that the women planned to rob the victim, although petitioner testified that it was supposed to be Holmes's job to enter the house and search for money while the other two women were having sex with the victim. (Id., pp. 16-17). Petitioner testified that when Holmes received the “Now” message, they thought something was wrong inside the house. (Id., p. 18). When petitioner went into the house with the branch, he saw Taylor “shoving off [sic] saying wait a minute.” (Id., p. 19). To “stop [Jaber] from whatever he was doing, ” petitioner struck him on the back of the head. (Id., pp. 19-20). The victim fell and the two women ran out of the room. Taylor told petitioner “just make sure he doesn't get up.” Petitioner testified that he hit the victim again “[be]cause he was trying to get back up, ” and struck him a third time “to make sure that [he] could try to knock him unconscious.” (Id., p. 20). Taylor then searched the house for money and told petitioner to take two laptops off of the table “because she said they were hers anyway.” (Id., p. 21).

         After the group got into the car to leave, petitioner told the others that he left something. The group returned to the victim's house and petitioner retrieved the tree branch. (Tr. 10/23/13, pp. 31-32; Tr. 10/24/13, p. 21). After returning to Taylor's house, petitioner threw the branch away in a vacant lot next to the house. (Tr. 10/23/13, pp. 33, 99-101).

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Jackson, No. 319254, 2015 WL 1313654 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 24, 2015); lv. den. 498 Mich. 906, 870 N.W.2d 905 (2015).

Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following grounds:
I. The trial court committed reversible error, when it obtained Petitioner's conviction by violating Petitioner's state and federal constitutional rights to a fair trial by an impartial and properly instructed jury, contrary to the protections of the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and Constitution 1963, article 1, section 17, and section 20, where the court refused to instruct the jury on the supported defense of defense of others.
II. The trial court violated Petitioner's constitutional right, when it obtained Petitioner's conviction by denying a fair trial and a full opportunity to confront the evidence against him, contrary to the protections guaranteed him by the Sixth Amendment and Const. 1963, article 1, section 20, and also a full opportunity to present his defense under due process guarantees secured by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and Const. 1963, art 1, section 17, when the trial court allowed one forensic scientist to testify about DNA results obtained by another, absent forensic scientist.
III. The trial court violated the Petitioner's due process right to a fair trial when it obtained his conviction by allowing photographs into evidence which were so unfairly prejudicial that their admission was more prejudicial than probative.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         28 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; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented ...

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