United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Donald Randolph Taylor was convicted by jury in the Wayne
Circuit Court of first-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.316; two counts of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.529; and possession of a firearm during the commission of
a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. The trial court
sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment for the murder
conviction, 60-to-100 years for the armed robbery
convictions, and a consecutive 2-year term for the
felony-firearm conviction. He now petitions this court for a
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. #1.)
petition raises two claims: (1) there was insufficient
evidence presented at trial to establish beyond a reasonable
doubt Petitioner's identity as the perpetrator of the
crimes, and (2) the trial court erroneously sentenced
Petitioner to 60-to-100 years for the armed robbery
convictions. The court will deny the petition because
Petitioner's claims are without merit. The court will
also deny a certificate of appealability.
charges against Petitioner stem from the robbery and shooting
death of Demetri Green.
Petitioner's trial, Cazaraza Archer testified that on the
evening of January 4, 2013, he and Green parked their vehicle
near a store at the intersection of East Warren and
Nottingham in Detroit. An SUV pulled up; a person Archer
later identified as Petitioner exited the passenger side.
Petitioner pulled out an assault rifle and told the two men
to lie down. Green complied, but Archer ran across the street
when he saw the gun. Archer reached the other side of the
street, and when he turned around he saw Petitioner fire the
rifle at Green's head. Archer returned fire with his own
9mm handgun, but Petitioner escaped in the SUV. Three days
after the shooting, Archer went to the police station and
identified Petitioner from an array of photographs.
Police Officers dispatched to the scene found Green lying
dead in a pool of blood and loose cash. The officers spoke to
Archer and took his handgun. A police evidence technician
recovered a fired casing found near the location of the body.
The medical examiner subsequently determined that the victim
died from a single perforating gunshot wound that passed
through his brain and exited his cheek.
days after the murder, another Detroit Police Officer was
assigned to apprehend Petitioner. When the officer located
Petitioner, he attempted to run away. The officer saw
Petitioner remove an assault rifle from his pants leg and
throw it over a fence as he ran. The weapon was recovered,
and Petitioner was caught and arrested.
Michigan State Police firearm expert testified that the rifle
recovered during the chase was the weapon that discharged the
casing found near Green's body. Expert testimony also
indicated that the bullet hole found on the left side of
Green's hood was likely caused by a shot fired from four
feet away or less.
Adams, Petitioner's aunt, testified against him at trial.
Adams testified that in January of 2013, Petitioner came to
her house and asked her if she had watched the news because
he may have shot someone. They later saw a woman on
television talking about her son's murder. Petitioner
told Adams that he and another man were robbing two men, and
that he would not have shot the victim if he had not been
running his mouth. Petitioner also told Adams that he enjoyed
seeing people begging for their lives and taking their last
breath. After Petitioner left, Adams contacted the Detroit
Police Homicide unit.
testified in his own defense. Petitioner claimed that on the
date of his arrest he was with two other men. It was one of
these other men and not Petitioner who threw the rifle over
the fence. Petitioner ran because he was being chased. He
denied telling his aunt that he was involved in the shooting.
Petitioner claimed that he was drunk at the time, and that it
was his friend Darnell who killed Green.
jury found Petitioner guilty as charged, and he was
subsequently sentenced as indicated above. Following his
conviction and sentence, Petitioner filed an application for
leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising the
following two claims:
I. The prosecution failed to produce legally sufficient
evidence to identify Appellant as the perpetrator or prove
his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
II. The trial court abused its discretion in imposing
sentences of 60 to 100 years imprisonment for armed robbery
which exceeded the sentencing guidelines range of 135 to 255
months without acknowledging it was departing above the
guidelines or articulating any ...