United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
WILLIAM D. THOMAS, Petitioner,
ERICK BALCARCEL, Warden, Respondent.
Elizabeth A. Stafford Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
J. MICHELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
March 2012, a woman was raped by a man who was, for most of
the encounter, masked. At one point during their
investigation into the crime, the police called the victim to
the station. There, a police captain informed the victim that
an arrest warrant was out for someone whose DNA matched DNA
found on clothing worn by her assailant and recovered from
the crime scene. Then, when the captain had to leave to take
a phone call, the victim saw a photo on the captain's
computer screen. The photo was of William Deshiree Thomas.
Later, at Thomas' preliminary examination and at trial,
the victim identified Thomas as her attacker. At trial,
Thomas put on an alibi defense. Consistent with Michigan law,
Thomas disclosed to the prosecution his list of alibi
witnesses. Although the same Michigan statute required the
prosecution to reciprocate, i.e., tell Thomas its rebuttal
alibi witnesses, the prosecution did not provide Thomas with
any such list. But, at trial, the prosecution was allowed to
call in its case-and-chief a witness who testified contrary
to Thomas' alibi.
believes that these two issues-the hint given to the victim
at the police station and the surprise rebuttal alibi
witness-warrant a writ of habeas corpus from this Court. For
the reasons that follow, the Court will not grant the writ.
March 17, 2012 (St. Patrick's Day), a woman “heard
a noise in her home and discovered a man in her
kitchen.” People v. Thomas, No. 321822, 2015
WL 6955182, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2015). The
intruder “wore a white mask over his mouth and a white
‘do-rag' on his head and was armed with a
knife.” Id. After a struggle, the intruder
forced the woman into the shower and compelled her to wash.
Id. He then ordered her to remove her clothing and
raped her. Id. The intruder then “sprayed her
with bleach and ordered her into the shower.”
Id. “The victim waited a few moments and
peeked around the shower curtain. She testified that she saw
the man-without his mask on-frantically searching through the
contents of a wastebasket he had overturned. He looked up and
ordered her back into the shower. She waited several more
minutes and then crept from the shower and called the police
department.” Id. Later, police recovered the
intruder's do-rag. Id.
State of Michigan charged Thomas with the crimes. The
evidence at Thomas' criminal trial included the
victim's identification of Thomas, expert testimony
indicating that Thomas' cellphone (or one he was using)
was in the general vicinity of the victim's house around
the time of the attack, and evidence that Thomas' DNA was
found on the do-rag recovered from the victim's house.
Thomas' defense was that whoever the intruder was, it was
not him. While his DNA was on the do-rag, it also contained
the DNA of two others. And Thomas presented an alibi. In
particular, Thomas' girlfriend testified that she and
Thomas were dropping off her infant daughter at a
babysitter's house at the time of the attack. Having
heard the evidence, the jury convicted Thomas of first-degree
criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520b(1)(e), and first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.110a(2).
appealed without success. See People v. Thomas, No.
321822, 2015 WL 6955182 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2015). And
the Michigan Supreme Court was not “persuaded” to
hear Thomas' case. See People v. Thomas, 878
N.W.2d 875 (Mich. 2016).
now seeks a writ of habeas corpus from this Court.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA)-28
U.S.C. § 2254 in particular-“confirm[s] that state
courts are the principal forum for asserting constitutional
challenges to state convictions.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011); see also Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 182 (2011). Thus, if a claim
was “adjudicated on the merits in State court
proceedings, ” this Court cannot grant habeas corpus
relief on the basis of that claim “unless the
adjudication of the claim . . . resulted in a decision”
(1) “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) “that was based on an unreasonable determination
of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State
court proceeding.” See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d). But if the state courts did not adjudicate a claim
“on the merits, ” this “‘AEDPA
deference' does not apply and [this Court] will review
the claim de novo.” Bies v. Sheldon, 775 F.3d
386, 395 (6th Cir. 2014).
has two grounds for habeas corpus relief. He asserts that the
victim was able to identify him as her attacker because of
the suggestion given by police when she came to the station
and because she saw him on the news. He also asserts that the
introduction of testimony that rebutted his alibi was
first claim is that the victim was only able to identify him
because she was given a strong hint (or ...