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Davis v. King

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

February 10, 2014

MICHAEL EUGENE DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
RONALD KING and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL P. MILLS, Chief District Judge.

Petitioner Michael Eugene Davis, Mississippi prisoner no. 164121, has filed a pro se federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 challenging his State court conviction for armed robbery. Having considered the submission of the parties, the State court record, and the law applicable to Davis' claims, the Court finds that the petition should be denied, for the reasons that follow.

Background Facts and Procedural History

The night clerk at the Ramada Inn in Horn Lake, Mississippi, was robbed on October 10, 2006. The robber used a BB gun that resembled a semi-automatic weapon during the commission of the crime. (SCR vol. 5, 210). The victim was able to provide police with a description of the robber, along with a partial license plate and a description of the vehicle the robber was using. ( Id. at 192). Based on this information, law enforcement issued a "Be On the Lookout" ("B.O.L.O.") for the suspect using photographs from the hotel surveillance video. ( Id. at 193). On October 17, 2006, the Memphis Police Department informed the Horn Lake Police Department that the Memphis police had a suspect was in custody that matched the B.O.L.O. ( Id. at 197). Horn Lake law enforcement officials were also informed by the Memphis Police Department that the suspect was driving a vehicle that matched the one described as being connected with the robbery at the time he was taken into custody. ( Id. at 197). The suspect was Davis.

Based on the fact that a suspect was in custody, a six-photograph array was compiled and shown to the victim, who identified Davis as the robber. ( Id. at 198, 201). Horn Lake Police Detective Roger Hutchins then went to Memphis and interrogated Davis for approximately twelve minutes, during which time Davis provided a statement implicating himself in the robbery. ( Id. 202-03). In his statement, Davis was able to accurately describe the victim, and he stated that he recalled going in and using the hotel bathroom before he came out of the bathroom with a gun and told the clerk to "gimme the money[.]" ( Id. at 205; Answer, Ex. H, pp. 6, 13).

Davis was subsequently indicted in the Circuit Court of DeSoto County, Mississippi, and a jury found him guilty of armed robbery. (SCR vol. 1, 99; SCR vol. 5, 275). He was sentenced as an habitual offender to serve a term of life imprisonment in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. (SCR vol. 1, 122; SCR vol. 5, 309).

Davis appealed his conviction and sentence to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which assigned the matter to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The sole issue raised in Davis' appeal was whether the trial court erred in failing to grant his suppression motion. The appellate court affirmed Davis' conviction and sentence on June 26, 2012. ( See Answer, Ex. A); see also Davis v. State, 2012 WL 2384134 (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (Cause No. 2010-KA-02097-COA). Davis' motion for rehearing was denied on November 7, 2012. ( See Answer, Ex. B). Davis did not seek certiorari review of his appeal with the Mississippi Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court.

Davis subsequently sought permission from the Mississippi Supreme Court to proceed in the trial court with a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. He raised the following issues, as paraphrased by the Court:

I. Violation of speedy trial rights
II. Improper sentencing as an habitual offender
III. Ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel
A. Speedy trial issue
B. Failure to object to Davis' sentence as an habitual offender
C. Appellate counsel's failure to properly challenge trial counsel's effectiveness regarding the speedy trial issue

The Mississippi Supreme Court denied his application, finding his claims without merit. ( See Answer, Ex. C).[1]

On or about October 21, 2013, Davis filed the instant federal habeas petition raising the following grounds for relief:

I. Violation of speedy trial rights
II. Improper sentencing as an habitual offender
III. Ineffective assistance of counsel
A. Failing to move for a directed verdict
B. Failing to investigate the facts of the robbery, the victim's background, the photo line-up, and any mental or drug abuse history
C. Failing to investigate or analyze similar vehicles with similar license plate numbers in the area at the time
D. Allowing evidence of prior bad acts to be presented to the jury
E. Failing to provide Davis with discovery
F. Failing to question the victim regarding the weapon used
G. Failing to call witnesses for the defense
H. Failing to question the validity of the State's witnesses
I. Failing to object to Davis' sentence as an ...

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