United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
state prisoner Darnell Miller filed a habeas petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner, who is presently
incarcerated at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in
Ionia, Michigan, challenges his convictions for two counts of
first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520(b); two counts of second-degree criminal sexual
conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83, one count of
unlawful imprisonment, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349b, one
count of felonious assault, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82,
and one count of possession of under 25 grams of a controlled
substance, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7403(2)(a)(v).
Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the ground that the trial
court violated his right to present a defense by excluding
certain testimony. For the reasons explained below, the Court
denies the petition. The Court also denies a certificate of
convictions arise from the sexual assault of his
then-26-year-old daughter, DH. D.H. testified that, on the
evening of September 14, 2013, she received a call from her
stepmother, Jannie Mae Miller, informing D.H. that Petitioner
(Mrs. Miller’s husband) had stolen two televisions from
the home the couple shared. D.H. arrived at the Miller home
shortly after receiving the call. The police were at the
home, having been summoned by Mrs. Miller. Port Huron Police
Officer Eric Rossow informed Mrs. Miller that he could not
take any action because Petitioner and Mrs. Miller were
married and shared the home.
testified that, at Officer Rossow’s suggestion, she
called Petitioner to see if he would return the televisions.
Petitioner agreed to meet D.H. a short distance away from the
home to return the televisions in exchange for $20. He told
D.H. not to bring anyone with her when she met him. D.H.
walked up the street to meet her father. Family friend Lori
Woodyard followed behind. At the agreed upon meeting place,
D.H. entered Petitioner’s car. Petitioner sped off when
he saw Woodyard had followed D.H.
drove to a nearby church parking lot. He said he was not
going to go back to D.H.’s stepmother and that D.H.
should take the car and televisions back home. Petitioner
exited the car to smoke crack cocaine. When he was done, D.H.
exited the car to hug her father. When she hugged him, D.H.
felt a knife pressed against her back. Petitioner ordered her
not to run and that if she tried to do so he would stab her
ordered D.H. to take her clothes off as he pushed her into
nearby bushes. He told her he planned to rape her “a
little bit.” Tr. at 225-26, ECF No. 9-11, Pg. ID
425-26. D.H. testified that her father then proceeded to
penetrate her vagina and anus with his fingers, and then
penetrated her with his penis. Petitioner became distracted
by a noise in the bushes and D.H. ran away as quickly as she
could. D.H., who was naked from the waist down, ran to a
nearby home. There, Julie Ann Launstein-Bevins’
assisted her and called 911. Police took D.H. to a hospital
for a rape kit. Forensic testing found the presence of a
single sperm cell taken from a vaginal swab, and saliva from
a rectal swab.
could not be excluded as the source of the DNA extracted from
later recovered a knife and D.H.’s pants, underwear,
and glasses from the woods near the church parking lot.
Huron police detective Karen Brisby testified that, on
September 18, 2013, Petitioner’s wife appeared at the
police station and requested to speak with Detective Brisby.
Mrs. Miller told Detective Brisby that Petitioner confessed
to her the day after the assault. Mrs. Miller said that
Detective confessed that he had touched D.H. because he was
tired of her disrespecting him. Initially, he intended to
kill her, but God intervened, convincing him to
“degrade” D.H. instead. 5/16/14 Tr. at 15 (ECF
No. 9-13, Pg. ID 736). Petitioner then told Mrs. Miller, in
detail, what he had done to D.H.
trial, Mrs. Miller denied making most of these statements to
Detective Brisby. Mrs. Miller acknowledged that she did tell
Detective Brisby that Petitioner had confessed, but denied
providing Detective Brisby any other details told to her by
Petitioner. Mrs. Miller testified that Petitioner did not
confess to her. Instead, she fabricated the story because
Petitioner was addicted to crack cocaine and she hoped that
if she told police this story he would be taken off the
was convicted by a jury in St. Clair County Circuit Court and
sentenced to 30 to 50 years’ imprisonment for the
criminal sexual conduct and unlawful imprisonment
convictions, and 10 to 15 years for the felonious assault and
drug possession convictions, all to be served concurrently.
filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals
challenging the trial court’s exclusion of evidence.
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner’s
convictions. People v. Miller, No. 322711, 2015 WL
6965103 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2015). The Michigan Supreme
Court denied ...