United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
FREDERICK A. MATTHEWS, Petitioner,
SHANE JACKSON,  Respondent,
OPINION AND ORDER (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, AND (2)
DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Matthews, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Carson
City Correctional Facility in Carson City, 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 home invasion,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), and possession of a
firearm in the commission of a felony [felony-firearm], Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.227b.
Court finds that there was insufficient evidence to sustain
Petitioner's convictions for first-degree home invasion
and felony-firearm. The Court grants the writ in part,
vacates Petitioner's felony-firearm conviction and
remands the case to the state court to vacate
Petitioner's first degree home invasion conviction and
enter a judgment of guilt on the lesser included offense of
second-degree home invasion and re-sentence Petitioner on
this offense. The petition is DENIED with respect to
Petitioner's remaining claims.
was convicted following a jury trial in the Allegan County
Circuit Court. This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts
regarding Petitioner's conviction from the Michigan Court
of Appeals' opinion affirming his conviction, 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. 2009):
The record supports that defendant and his accomplice were
involved in a home invasion in the late morning of June 29,
2011. The homeowner returned home during the home invasion
and noticed an unfamiliar Chevy Impala parked in his driveway
with the engine running but nobody inside the vehicle. As the
homeowner was investigating the Impala, he saw
defendant's accomplice walk out of the garage that was
attached to the house. The homeowner confronted the
accomplice and told him to wait for the police to arrive.
About five minutes after confronting the accomplice, the
homeowner saw defendant run through his backyard away from
his house. Defendant ran into the cornfield that was located
beyond the homeowner's backyard. Employees at an
industrial gravel pit bordering the cornfield saw defendant
emerge from the cornfield soon after he fled the house. The
police apprehended defendant at the gravel pit and brought
him to the homeowner's house, where he identified
defendant with 85 percent certainty as the man who fled
through his backyard. Meanwhile, the police apprehended
defendant's accomplice who had fled in the Impala. The
police recovered items from the Impala that belonged to the
homeowner and also found a pair of gloves outside the house
next to a crowbar or chisel.
At trial, the homeowner testified that he was
“positive” that defendant was the man who fled
through his backyard on the day in question. A DNA expert
testified that she tested the gloves found at the house and
determined that the DNA recovered from the gloves matched
defendant's DNA. The homeowner and his wife each
testified that they did not give anyone permission to enter
their house on the day in question. They further testified
that when they searched their house after the home invasion,
they observed that the sliding door that opened to the
backyard had been unlocked and left open. The homeowners also
testified that several items were missing and other items
were relocated within the house. A camera, iPod, and laptop
computer had been gathered into a beach bag and moved into
the closet of their guest bedroom. The bag was found on top
of a handgun that had been in the master bedroom.
People v. Matthews, No. 313021, 2014 WL 129327, at *
1 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2014).
conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. 496
Mich. 865, 849 N.W.2d 358 (2014).
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, which was held in abeyance to permit
Petitioner to return to the state courts to exhaust
additional claims. Matthews v. Winn, No. 15-12264,
2016 WL 3213458, at *1 (E.D. Mich. June 10, 2016).
filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment,
which was denied. People v. Matthews, No.
11-17298-FH (Allegan Cty.Cir.Ct., Apr. 30, 2015). The
Michigan appellate courts denied Petitioner leave to appeal.
People v. Matthews, No. 329994 (Mich.Ct.App. Jan. 6,
2016); lv. den. 500 Mich. 895, 887 N.W.2d 204
Court subsequently reopened the case to the Court's
active docket and permitted Petitioner to amend his habeas
petition. Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following
claims: (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict, (2)
Petitioner was denied his right to counsel of his choice, (3)
Petitioner was denied his right to enter into a sentence
agreement with the trial court pursuant to People v.
Cobbs, (4) prosecutorial misconduct denied Petitioner a
fair trial, (5) Petitioner was denied a fair trial because of
defective jury instructions; trial counsel was ineffective
for failing to object, (6) Petitioner was denied a jury drawn
from a fair cross-section of the community; trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to object, and (7) ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel.
U.S.C. § 2254(d) provides that:
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
Claim # 1. There was insufficient evidence to convict
Petitioner of first-degree home invasion and felony-firearm
but there was sufficient evidence to convict Petitioner of
the lesser offense of second-degree home invasion either as a
principal or as an accessory.
first contends that there was insufficient evidence to
convict him. The Court agrees in part.
Court notes that “the Due Process Clause protects the
accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a
reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the
crime with which he is charged.” In Re
Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). But the crucial
question when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to
support a criminal conviction is, “whether the record
evidence could reasonably support a finding of guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 318 (1979). This inquiry, however, does not require
a court to “ask itself whether it believes
that the evidence at the trial established guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt.” Instead, the relevant question is
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of
fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 318-19 (internal
citation and footnote omitted) (emphasis in the original).
considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to
convict, the reviewing court must give circumstantial
evidence the same weight as direct evidence. See United
States v. Farley, 2 F.3d 645, 650 (6th Cir. 1993).
“Circumstantial evidence alone is sufficient to sustain
a conviction and such evidence need not remove every
reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt.” United
States v. Kelley, 461 F.3d 817, 825 (6th Cir. 2006)
(internal quotation omitted); See also Saxton v.
Sheets, 547 F.3d 597, 606 (6th Cir. 2008) (“A
conviction may be sustained based on nothing more than
federal habeas court may not overturn a state court decision
that rejects a sufficiency of the evidence claim merely
because the federal court disagrees with the state
court's resolution of that claim. Instead, a federal
court may grant habeas relief only if the state court
decision was an objectively unreasonable application of the
Jackson standard, that is, “whether the record
evidence could reasonably support a finding of guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 318 (1979); see also Cavazos v. Smith, 565
U.S. 1, 2 (2011).
initially contends that there was insufficient evidence to
prove that he participated in the home invasion, either as a
principal or as an aider and abettor. The Michigan Court of
Appeals rejected Petitioner's claim:
Here, the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to
the prosecution, supports the reasonable inference that
defendant helped procure the vehicle used for the home
invasion and that he and his accomplice drove to the house
and entered it without permission with the intent to steal
items of value. The prosecution presented evidence that
defendant's girlfriend rented the Impala two days before
the crime; the Impala was left in the driveway with its
engine running during the home invasion; gloves containing
defendant's DNA were found outside the house next to
break-in tools; items of value were relocated within the
house or taken from the house, and both defendant and his
accomplice fled the scene after the homeowner arrived home
unexpectedly. The evidence also established that the back
sliding door was left ajar after the home invasion; and the
homeowner who interrupted the home invasion testified that
defendant ran through the backyard away from the house soon
after his accomplice exited the garage door on the side of
the house. This evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to
the prosecution and making all reasonable inferences in favor
of the jury verdict, supports that defendant entered the
house without permission and with the intent to commit
larceny therein or intentionally and knowingly assisted
another to commit those acts.
People v. Matthews, 2014 WL 129327, at *2 (Mich. Ct.
App. Jan. 14, 2014).
Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2) states that:
A person who breaks and enters a dwelling with intent to
commit a felony or a larceny in the dwelling or a person who
enters a dwelling without permission with intent to commit a
felony or a larceny in the dwelling is guilty of home
invasion in the first degree if at any time while the person
is entering, ...