United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RECO N. SIMMONS, Petitioner,
ERICA HUSS, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS, (2) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY,
AND (3) GRANTING PERMISSION TO APPEAL IN FORMA
GEORGE CARAM STEEH, JUDGE
Simmons, (“Petitioner”), a Michigan prisoner,
filed this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner was
convicted after a jury trial in the Wayne Circuit Court of
second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317, armed
robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, first-degree home
invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), and possession
of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.227b. Petitioner was sentenced to a term of
450 months to 80 years for the murder conviction to be served
consecutively to a term of 140 months to 20 years for the
home invasion conviction and a 2-year term for the firearm
conviction. Petitioner was sentenced to a concurrent term of
285 months to 50 years for the armed robbery conviction.
petition raises one claim: Petitioner was denied the
effective assistance of counsel when his trial attorney
conceded during closing argument that Petitioner was guilty
of second-degree murder. The Court will deny the petition
because the Michigan Court of Appeals reasonably rejected the
claim on the merits during Petitioner's direct appeal.
The Court will also deny Petitioner a certificate of
appealability, but it will grant permission to appeal in
Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied upon by the
Michigan Court of Appeals, 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.
On August 8, 2012, Michael Montgomery (Montgomery) concocted
a plan to rob the home of Melissa Villneff (Melissa). He
enlisted the help of Reco and Aquire. These two sought out
four additional men to help: Fredrick, Michael Evans (Evans),
Felando Hunter (Felando), and Brandon Crawford (Brandon).
That evening, Evans drove the group in his Explorer to
Melissa's home. When the group first arrived, they
noticed a group of young children playing outside, and
decided against going forward with their plan at that time.
But a short time later, armed with an SK assault rifle,
revolvers, and a baseball bat, the men executed their plan.
Evans stayed behind as the getaway driver. Montgomery, who
knew that Patrick Villneff was at the house, lured him away
by going for a walk with him and Patrick's dog. Fredrick,
Felando, Reco, and Aquire entered the house. Apparently to
their surprise, Terrance Villneff (Terrance) was inside,
playing a video game. One of the men struck him in the face.
Armed with the rifle, Felando ordered Terrance to a bedroom
in the back of the house. There, Aquire beat him with the
baseball bat at Felando's direction. The other men
searched the home. Eventually, the men left. But as they did,
they noticed that Melissa's father and next-door
neighbor, John Villneff, was standing on his porch and
calling 911. John had been alerted to the robbery by one of
the children, who had seen the men enter Melissa's home.
Reco fired a few shots from his revolver toward John, and
Felando fired several more with the assault rifle. John was
struck by one of these bullets and died shortly after.
People v. Simmons, 2016 WL 1039553, at *1 (Mich. Ct.
App. Mar. 14, 2016).
his conviction Petitioner filed a claim of appeal in the
Michigan Court of Appeals. His brief on appeal raised one
I. Mr. Simmons was denied his constitutionally guaranteed
rights to the effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth
Amendment and Const. 1963, art. 1, § 20, where counsel-
without notice to Mr. Simmons-expressly admitted guilt.
Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's
convictions in an unpublished opinion. Id.
Petitioner subsequently filed an application for leave to
appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claim
that he raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan
Supreme Court denied the application because it was not
persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed.
People v. Simmons, 891 N.W.2d 865 (Mich. 2017)
Standard of Review
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) curtails a federal court's
review of constitutional claims raised by a state prisoner in
a habeas action if the claims were adjudicated on the merits
by the state courts. Relief is barred under this section
unless the state court adjudication was “contrary
to” or resulted in an “unreasonable application
of” clearly established Supreme Court law.
state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . .
clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court
cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from
[this] precedent.'” Mitchell ...