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Henderson v. Maclaren

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 9, 2019

KEITH HENDERSON, # 629788, Petitioner,
v.
DUNCAN MACLAREN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          ROBERT H. CLELAND UNITED, STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Michigan prisoner Keith Henderson (“Petitioner”) filed this habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner, who is proceeding pro se, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(a), and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. He raises five claims for habeas corpus relief related to the alleged ineffectiveness of his trial and appellate counsel, failure to preserve exculpatory evidence, and sufficiency of the evidence. For the reasons explained in this order, these claims lack merit, and the court will deny the petition.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner's convictions arise from the shooting death of sixteen-year-old James Hudson in Detroit on July 21, 2010. The shooting occurred near the intersection of Garfield Avenue and Leroy Avenue in Detroit, during a melee involving dozens of people. Cordaryl Massey, Petitioner's cousin, was originally charged along with Petitioner for first-degree murder. Massey testified pursuant to a plea agreement which allowed him to plead guilty to manslaughter. Massey testified that on the afternoon of July 21, 2010, he and his friend, Cornelius Barnes, went to Barnes' aunt's house near the intersection where the shooting occurred. When they arrived, a large group of people was arguing in the street. About 20 minutes later, the argument escalated into a fight. Massey described the scene this way: “Everybody was running everywhere, throwing bricks, swinging poles and fightin'.” (ECF No. 10-3, PageID 382.) Someone then pulled out a shotgun and started shooting, and Massey ran behind a house and called his cousin, Petitioner. Massey told Petitioner “Come to Glenfield and Leroy. They over here shootin' at me.” (Id. at 385.) Petitioner replied that he was on his way. According to Massey, Petitioner arrived about 10 minutes later and asked: “Who shootin' at my cousin?” (Id. at 387.) Massey and a few other people pointed toward the crowd and Petitioner began shooting. After firing shots into the crowd, Petitioner fled the scene in his vehicle. Several witnesses testified at trial and gave similar versions of these events.

         Randall Hall was present at the time of the shooting and testified that he saw a man with a gun exit a vehicle and ask “who shootin' at my cousins”. (ECF No. 10-4, PageID 545.) Ciera Brown testified that she saw Petitioner jump out of a car carrying a gun, look around for a minute, then start firing down the street toward a group of people. Joshua Hudson, the victim's brother, testified that he saw a green car stop and Petitioner exit the car. Hudson stated that Petitioner started shooting in his direction and that his brother, the victim, was struck by a bullet when the two tried to run away.

         Petitioner did not testify in his own defense.

         Following a jury trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The court sentenced him to life in prison without parole for the first-degree murder conviction and two years for the felony-firearm conviction.

         Petitioner filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals raising a single claim based on the sufficiently of the evidence used to sustain the first-degree premeditated murder conviction. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions. People v. Henderson, No. 309460, 2013 WL 1223206, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2013). Petitioner's application for leave to appeal was denied by the Michigan Supreme Court. People v. Henderson, 835 N.W.2d 583 (Mich. 2013).

         Petitioner then filed a motion for relief from judgment in the trial court. He raised six claims in this motion: (i) ineffective assistance of counsel in advising Petitioner to reject a plea offer; (ii) ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to object to the admission of evidence offered in violation of the Confrontation Clause; (iii) failure of the police to preserve known exculpatory evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to file a motion to dismiss on this basis; (iv) insufficiency of the evidence to support the premeditation element of first-degree murder; (v) imposition of improper court costs against Petitioner; and (vi) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The trial court denied each claim on the merits. (ECF No. 10-10.) The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal, as did the Michigan Supreme Court. (ECF Nos. 10-11, 10-12.)

         Petitioner then filed the pending habeas petition which raises the following claims:

I. Ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's advice that Petitioner should reject the offered plea.
II. Ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's failure to object to testimony referencing the autopsy report offered in violation of the Confrontation Clause.
III. Violation of Petitioner's due process rights based on the police's failure to preserve exculpatory evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to move for dismissal on this basis.
IV. Insufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction for premeditated, first-degree murder.
V. Ineffective assistance of appellate in failing to raise certain arguments on appeal.

         III. ...


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