United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING “PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS” AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Erik Beauchamp filed a pro se petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner
challenges his Wexford County Circuit Court jury trial
conviction for second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.317, for which he received a sentence of thirty-seven
years, six months to sixty years' imprisonment. The
petition raises two claims: (1) that the trial court erred in
failing to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of
voluntary manslaughter; and (2) that the prosecutor committed
multiple instances of misconduct during closing argument. For
the reasons provided below, the court will deny the petition.
The court will also deny a certificate of appealability.
conviction arises from the August 8, 2014 shooting death of
Lindsey Morgan. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Petitioner's second-degree murder conviction. People
v. Beauchamp, 2016 WL 3421405 (Mich. Ct. App. June 21,
2016). Its description of trial testimony is summarized
below. That court's factual findings are presumed correct
on habeas review. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wagner v.
Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009).
and Morgan, both alcoholics, had two children together and an
on-again, off-again relationship. Beauchamp, 2016 WL
3421405, at *1. Morgan occasionally left Petitioner for
another man, their neighbor Joseph Traylor. Two days before
Petitioner shot and killed Morgan, they had a fight.
Id. The next day, Petitioner saw Morgan “put
the children into her mother's van and leave.”
Id. Shortly thereafter, on the phone, Morgan taunted
Petitioner about losing his children. Id. She also
texted him to say, “I'm sorry, but I am
next day, Petitioner went to work, but left because he was
unable to focus due to being upset. Id. at *2. After
returning home, he told his mother “he loved her and
was sorry he had to kill himself.” Id. He went
into the woods behind his property with a few bottles of
beer, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .22 caliber pistol.
Id. His mother called police. Officer Daniel Johnson
arrived and spoke to Petitioner on the phone. Id.
When Petitioner “refused to come out of the woods to
talk[, ]” the officer decided he could take no action
because Petitioner had not committed a crime. Id.
testified at trial that he both “wanted to die”
but also wanted to confront Morgan. Id. His sister
said he called her, saying he was going to kill both Morgan
and Traylor, the neighbor. Id. Morgan's mother
also testified that Morgan told her that Petitioner had
called Morgan and had said he was coming to kill her.
friend driving to Traylor's house to meet Morgan saw
Petitioner “walking toward the house with a
shotgun.” Id. When Petitioner reached the
house, he broke in, and “began beating the door”
of the bathroom where Morgan had taken the children.
Id. at *3. “Morgan came out and the two began
struggling over the shotgun[.]” Id. The fight
continued through the house with Petitioner repeatedly
punching Morgan. Id. Morgan also hit Petitioner
“a couple of times in the head with the shotgun they
were both holding.” Id. The shotgun went off,
“Morgan got ahold of [it]” and ran out of the
house. Id. Outside the house, Petitioner shot Morgan
three times with his pistol, twice in the head, and also beat
her with the pistol. Id. “Morgan died as a
result of the gunshot wounds.” Id.
jury acquitted Petitioner on the first-degree murder charge
but convicted him of second-degree murder. Id. He
raised two issues on direct appeal: (1) that the trial court
erred in denying his request for a jury instruction on the
lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter; and (2)
that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during closing
Michigan Court of Appeals rejected both issues and affirmed
the conviction. Id. The Michigan Supreme Court
denied Petitioner leave to appeal in a standard form order.
People v. Beauchamp, 500 Mich. 925, 888 N.W.2d 105
(2017). Petitioner's timely pro se habeas
petition followed, in which he presents the same two issues
raised before the state appellate courts.
U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No.
104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, imposes the following standard of
review for habeas cases:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the ...