United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Elizabeth A. Stafford Mag. Judge
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
E. LEVY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
prisoner Johnny Lerue Davis, Jr. (“Petitioner”)
filed this habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. Petitioner was convicted of second-degree murder, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.317, two counts of assault with intent
to murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83, discharging a
firearm in or at a building, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.234b, and possession of a firearm during the commission
of a felony (felony-firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.227b, following a jury trial with co-defendant Andrew Lee
Ursery. Petitioner was sentenced to 30 to 50 years
imprisonment for second-degree murder, 15 to 30 years
imprisonment for each of the assault with intent to murder
convictions, two to four years imprisonment for discharging a
firearm in or at a building and two years imprisonment for
felony-firearm. The petition raises two claims: (1) the trial
court improperly admitted autopsy photographs and photographs
of a memorial to the victim; and (2) insufficient evidence
supported the convictions.
reasons that follow, the Court denies the petition for a writ
of habeas corpus. The Court also denies a certificate of
convictions arise from a shooting outside a club in Ecorse,
Michigan on October 7, 2012. The shooting resulted in the
death of one woman and injuries to two men. The Michigan
Court of Appeals summarized the evidence adduced at trial
leading to Petitioner's convictions as follows:
This appeal arises from the death of Chanel Weddington and
gunshot wounds Damond Williams and Billy Parker sustained
outside of an after-hours club known as “The Place,
” in the city of Ecorse, during the early morning hours
of October 7, 2012. Diamond Pitts brought defendants, Patrice
Jackson (“Patrice”), and a man identified at
trial only as “Davonte” to The Place, and parked
on the grass in a field across the street from the club.
Defendants went to the club because they had a
“beef” with people there. According to the
testimony at trial, defendants had earlier stated that they
had guns, and Ursery had shown a silver gun to the group.
Regardless, a security guard and the club owner's husband
(Patrick Wheeler) both testified that everyone is patted down
when they enter and turned away if weapons are found.
Later, the security guard and Wheeler observed an altercation
on the dance floor involving both women and men, including
defendants. The security guard testified that defendants were
escorted outside for five minutes, and then allowed to
reenter. Wheeler also testified that, when the same men got
into another argument, he closed the club and escorted
patrons outside. At that time, the security guard heard
people saying that the men involved in the fight were about
to start shooting. Shaquetta King saw her cousin, Parker,
throw a punch at Davonte, and she also saw Joseph Elias
standing in the street with his shirt off and a gun in his
hand. The security guard testified that he saw defendants
walk across the street toward the field. King testified that
Davonte also walked there.
As two patrons, Raphael Reed and Vick Bullard, were leaving
and walking to their car parked on a street slightly south of
the field, Reed saw Davis and Ursery standing near a white
car in the field. Reed testified that, as he started to put
his key in his car door, he dropped it, bent over to pick it
up, and, at the same time, heard gunshots. Reed recalled that
he took cover by a truck, but looked toward the field ten
feet away. Reed testified that he saw Davis and Ursery, who
he had known before, along with another man, shooting toward
the front door of the club. Reed testified that he also saw
Ursery fire toward a man running down Francis Street.
Williams testified that he was talking to Weddington outside
on the sidewalk in front of the club when he was shot in the
stomach. Williams did not see who shot him, but stated that
the gunshots came from the field across the street from the
club and he saw the flashes from the muzzles of two guns.
Williams testified that he watched Weddington suffer the
fatal shot to her chest while she was standing right next to
him with her back toward the field.
Parker testified that patrons were exiting the club when he
arrived at the scene and that he had walked to the middle of
12th Street when the shooting began. Although he ducked
behind a car, he was shot in the stomach and hip. Parker
testified that he saw more than one shooter, but could not
Roy Miller, a River Rouge police officer, estimated that 40
gunshots were fired. Dean Molner, a Detective Sergeant with
the Michigan State Police Department and a firearms and tool
marks expert, identified four different groups of casings
found, and concluded that there was a possible maximum of
four guns used to fire the bullets, but it was also possible
that less than four weapons were used. Bullet fragments were
recovered in front of The Place and in a car parked in front
of the club, and bullet holes were observed in three vacant
homes down the street.
People v. Davis, Jr., No. 316645, 2014 WL 4495219,
*1-2 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 11, 2014).
convictions were affirmed on appeal. Id. The
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v.
Davis, 497 Mich. 984 (2015).
now seeks a writ of habeas corpus on these grounds:
I. The trial court violated the defendant's due process
rights to a fair trial and abused its discretion by its
consistent rulings as it regarded the admission of
photographs into evidence, which collectively were so
unfairly gruesome and damaging that the admission was more
prejudicial than probative.
II. The evidence presented by the prosecutor was insufficient
to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was
guilty of the crimes ...