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Thomas v. Parish

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

August 13, 2019

KORBIN TYLER LAVERN THOMAS, Petitioner,
v.
LEE PARISH, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff, United States District Judge.

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Korbin Tyler Lavern Thomas is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Michigan. On September 9, 2015, Petitioner pleaded guilty in the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court to second-degree murder, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317. On October 5, 2015, the court sentenced Petitioner to a prison term of 15 to 50 years.

         At Petitioner's plea hearing, he testified that, on January 11, 2015, in Kalamazoo County, he came into contact with Jazmyne Gibson; shortly thereafter, he caused her death; and, he caused her death by shooting her. (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 5, PageID.112.) Petitioner acknowledged that when he shot Ms. Gibson he knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm by pointing a gun at her that “turned out to be loaded” and pulling the trigger. (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 1-2, PageID.35.) At Petitioner's sentencing hearing, his counsel posited that Petitioner was teasing and toying when he pointed the rifle at his girlfriend and pulled the trigger negligently, or perhaps recklessly, unaware that there was a bullet in the chamber. (Sentencing Hr'g, ECF No. 1-3, PageID.62.)

         Before taking Petitioner's plea, the trial court reviewed the terms of the plea bargain:

[THE PROSECUTOR] MR. WILLIAMS: Your Honor, it's my understanding we have a resolution to this matter.
THE COURT: All right. What would it be?
MR. WILLIAMS: I've advised [defendant's counsel] Mr. Sappanos that if Mr. Thomas pleads guilty to the included offense in count one of second degree murder the People would dismiss count two, felony firearm and we have come to a sentencing agreement that the Court will have discretion to sentence the Defendant between 8 and 15 years.
THE COURT: At the minimum of the-at the minimum?
MR. WILLIAMS: The Court-the Court can choose a sentence anywhere between 8 and 15 years Your Honor. That's-we calculate that to be between the guidelines of manslaughter and second degree murder so we would have a sentencing agreement of a sentence of no less than 8 years, no more than 15 years, we'll leave it to Your Honor's discretion to fashion appropriate sentence between those numbers.
THE COURT: And there is no agreement on what the maximum would be?
MR. WILLIAMS: That's correct, Your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. And this is a Killebrew agreement and if I decided to go outside of that, Mr. Sappanos and his client would have absolute right to withdraw, is that your understanding?
MR . WILLIAMS: That is correct; it is a Killebrew Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Sappanos, is this your agreement?
MR. SAPPANOS: It is, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Most importantly, Mr. Thomas, is this your understanding?
MR. THOMAS: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Has anyone promised you anything else or threatened you to ...

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