United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge
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
Christopher Oros is incarcerated with the Michigan Department
of Corrections at the St. Louis Correctional Facility (SLF)
in St. Louis, Michigan.. Following a six-day jury trial in
the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted
of first-degree premeditated murder in violation of Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(a), first-degree felony murder
in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(b),
first-degree arson in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.72, second-degree home invasion in violation of Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.110a(3), and escape while awaiting
trial in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.197(2). On
August 24, 2015, the court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual
offender-second offense, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.10, to
respective prison terms of life without the possibility of
parole for the murder convictions, 25 to 40 years for the
arson conviction, 10 years to 22 years, 6 months for the home
invasion conviction, and 2 to 6 years for the escape
3, 2019, Petitioner timely filed his habeas corpus petition
raising three grounds for relief, as follows:
I. The prosecution failed to produce legally sufficient
evidence of premeditation and deliberation and malice.
II. Mitigating circumstances reduced Petitioner's
culpability for the victim's death.
III. The felony-murder instruction was erroneous in that it
instructed the jury that “false pretenses” could
serve as the felony to support a felony murder conviction.
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.5, 7-8.)
facts underlying Petitioner's prosecution were summarized
by the Michigan Court of Appeals as follows:
On November 22, 2014, emergency personnel responded to a fire
at the apartment complex of the victim, Marie McMillan, in
Kalamazoo, Michigan. The responders extinguished the fire and
discovered the victim's body on a bed in her bedroom.
Testimony from first responders indicated that someone had
piled items over her body and set them on fire. An autopsy
determined that the victim had died before the fire was set
as a result of multiple stab wounds.
Police officers learned that a man had been knocking on the
apartment doors of the apartments of the victim's
neighbors throughout the day of the fire and using a fake
story to solicit money. He told the residents that his
girlfriend had left with his car, debit card, and cell phone.
He then asked to use the person's phone, and, if allowed
to do so, he made a call that went unanswered. After the
“unsuccessful” call, he would directly or
indirectly solicited [sic] money from the resident.
determined that the number this man called from the
residents' phones was associated with defendant. They
also learned that a call had been made to that number from
the victim's phone. The officers tracked defendant down
at the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Robin Wiley,
Battle Creek, Michigan. When officers arrived, defendant
unsuccessfully attempted to flee. After defendant was
arrested, he was interrogated. During the interrogation,
defendant admitted that he had gotten the victim to let him
into her apartment and that he used her phone. He claimed
that she then attacked him without provocation by hitting him
on the head with a coffee mug and that she sat on top of him
with a “huge knife in her hand.” He said that he
and the victim struggled for control of the knife and he
gained control of it. Defendant then began stabbing the
victim, first in the stomach, and then, after getting on the
victim's back, in the neck and other parts of her body.
There were 29 stab wounds in all.
Defendant was charged with both first-degree premeditated
murder and felony murder. At trial, defendant argued that he
was not guilty of murder because he killed the victim in
self-defense. In the alternative, he argued that there were
mitigating circumstances that reduced his culpability for her
death. The jury rejected his defenses and found him guilty .
. . .
People v. Oros, 904 N.W.2d 209, 213 (Mich. Ct. App.
appealed his convictions and sentences to the Michigan Court
of Appeals raising seven issues including each of his habeas
issues. The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with Petitioner
that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation and
deliberation and, therefore, Petitioner's first-degree
premeditated murder conviction was properly reduced to
second-degree murder. The Michigan Court of Appeals also
agreed with Petitioner regarding the felony murder
instruction-false pretenses was not a proper foundation for a
felony murder conviction. The appellate court reversed that
conviction and remanded for retrial on the felony murder
charge. The court's decision afforded Petitioner some
relief as to each of the issues he raises in his habeas
prosecutor filed an application for leave to appeal the court
of appeals' decision in the Michigan Supreme Court. The
supreme court heard oral argument on the application and, in
lieu of granting leave to appeal, a five-justice majority
concluded the court of appeals had erred with regard to the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting the first-degree
premeditated murder conviction. By opinion issued July 5,
2018, the supreme court reversed that part of the court of
appeals' opinion and reinstated Petitioner's
first-degree premeditated murder conviction. People v.
Oros, 917 N.W.2d 229 Mich. (2018). This petition