Mario Evans v. Raymond Booker
OPINION filed : AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Eugene E. Siler , Jr., Circuit Judge; David W. McKeague, Circuit Judge and Jane Branstetter Stranch, AUTHORING Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0145n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Petitioner - Appellant,
Respondent - Appellee.
Feb 07, 2012
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Before: SILER, McKEAGUE, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge. Petitioner-Appellant Mario Evans appeals the district
court’s denial of his petition for habeas corpus, arguing that his trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance by failing to object to the admission of an inculpatory statement made after Evans was in
custody for approximately ninety-three hours. Because this case lacks any critical distinctions from
one previously decided by this Court regarding a statement Evans made eight hours earlier
concerning a different crime, we AFFIRM the district court’s denial of Evans’s habeas petition.
In the early morning of March 1, 2001, Petitioner-Appellant Mario Evans was taken into
custody for questioning regarding the murder of Jackie Williams several months earlier. He was
advised of his rights by Detroit Police Sergeant Felix Kirk, though Evans was not actually questioned
at that time as Kirk was near the end of his shift. Over the next few days, Evans remained in custody
Mario Evans v. Raymond Booker
while police questioned him about an unrelated murder, resulting in an inculpatory statement which
itself formed the basis of an appeal already considered by this Court. The facts surrounding that case
were summarized as follows:
Early on the morning of March 1, 2001, Detroit police arrested Evans for his
suspected involvement in a recent homicide. Over the next three and a half days,
Evans was held incommunicado at Detroit police headquarters without any probable
cause determination. During that time, police interrogated Evans on four separate
occasions. Police informed Evans of his Constitutional rights prior to each
interrogation session, and Evans signed and initialed multiple “Constitutional Rights
Certificate[s] of Notification.” Substantial periods of time passed between each
interrogation session, and each session was apparently relatively brief. At the fourth
interrogation session, more than 85 hours after his arrest, Evans confessed to
murdering Kirk DeBerry on Lappin Street in Detroit.
Evans v. Booker, 379 F. App’x 518, 519 (6th Cir. 2010) (citations to the record omitted).
At around 10:45 a.m. on March 4, Evans was placed in a live suspect line-up for the Williams
murder, in which he was positively identified as the shooter by a witness. Evans was asked about
both murders by Investigator Isaiah Smith four hours later. The record contains a signed transcript
of Evans’s confession to the DeBerry murder during that interrogation but no indication of what he
was asked or said about the Williams murder. At 11:30 p.m. that day—approximately ninety-three
hours after Evans was initially detained and eight hours after the DeBerry confession—Evans was
asked about the Williams murder by Sergeant Kirk. Before the questioning, Kirk again advised
Evans of his rights and observed him to be “awake and alert.” After a request to “tell me about a
shooting on Seven Mile and Hayes from last year,” Evans gave a lengthy statement asserting that he
helped a man named Fred Bishop obtain a shotgun to shoot a man with whom Evans “had some
Evans v. Booker
words with a week before.” Evans was later convicted by a jury of first-degree premeditated murder
based almost entirely on this statement and an eyewitness identification.1
Evans filed a timely habeas petition alleging, among other things, that his trial attorney was
ineffective in failing to move to suppress the lineup identification testimony and Evans’s custodial
After the district court rejected the petition, this Court granted a Certificate of
Appealability on those issues. Evans, who is represented by counsel on appeal, argues only
ineffective assistance regarding the custodial statement.
“This Court reviews a district court’s dismissal of a petition brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 de novo.” Thompson v. Bell, 580 F.3d 423, 433 (6th Cir. 2009). Under § 2254(d), a federal
court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the
merits in state court unless 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
Supreme Court of the United States” or (2) “resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.”
In reviewing a habeas claim, the decision this Court considers is that of “the last state court
to issue a reasoned opinion on the issue.” Payne v. Bell, 418 F.3d 644, 660 (6th Cir. 2005). The
state court’s factual findings must be treated as presumptively correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A
Evans obviously could not have been both the shooter (as the eyewitness testified) and an
accomplice (as Evans told police). However, he would be equally responsible for the murder under
Michigan’s aiding and abetting statute. Mich. Comp. Laws § 767.39.
Evans v. Booker
petitioner may overcome this presumption only with clear and convincing evidence. Id. Although
the voluntariness of a confession is a legal question that falls outside the scope of this presumption,
Miller v. Fenton, 474 U.S. 104, 115 (1985), “subsidiary factual questions,” including a state court’s
credibility determinations at a judicial hearing, are entitled to the § 2254(e)(1) presumption. See id.
at 112; Ramonez v. Berghuis, 490 F.3d 482, 490 (6th Cir. 2007).
Evans’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel requires him to show that his attorney’s
performance was constitutionally deficient and he was prejudiced as a result. Foust v. Houk, 655
F.3d 524, 533 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). Our
review of a state court’s ineffective assistance determination is “doubly deferential” because of the
combined effect of Strickland and § 2254(d). Id. (quoting Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. 1388,
1403 (2011)). In order to succeed on the prejudice prong, Evans “must show a reasonable
probability that . . . [his] motion to suppress would have succeeded had it been timely filed.”
McCalvin v. Yukins, 444 F.3d 713, 722 (6th Cir. 2006).
Under current Supreme Court jurisprudence, a confession is inadmissible if obtained through
means incompatible with due process. Miller, 474 U.S. at 116. The ultimate test of whether a
confession accords with due process is “the test of voluntariness.” Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S.
568, 602 (1961). The question in each case is “whether a defendant’s will was overborne at the time
he confessed.” Reck v. Pate, 367 U.S. 433, 440 (1961). To determine whether a defendant’s will
was overborne, a court must examine “the totality of all the surrounding circumstances—both the
characteristics of the accused and the details of the interrogation.” Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412
U.S. 218, 226 (1973). Relevant factors include: (1) the duration and conditions of detention; (2) the
Evans v. Booker
repeated and prolonged nature of the questioning; (3) the use of physical punishment; (4) the
defendant’s physical and mental state; (5) the youth of the defendant; (6) the defendant’s lack of
education or low intelligence; and (7) the lack of any advice to the defendant on his constitutional
rights. Withrow v. Williams, 507 U.S. 680, 693-94 (1993); Bustamonte, 412 U.S. at 226.
The Sixth Circuit previously denied habeas relief in Evans’s other case stemming from his
statement regarding the DeBerry murder that was made during the same custodial detention but
approximately eight hours earlier than the statement at issue here. In the DeBerry murder case, we
held that the Michigan Court of Appeals correctly identified and applied the principals of Withrow
“by examining all of the circumstances surrounding Evans’s confession to determine whether his
will was overborne.” Evans, 379 F. App’x at 521 (citing People v. Evans, No. 240357, 2004 WL
547232, *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar.18, 2004)).2 Specifically, this Court stated:
The [Michigan] court observed that, although Evans was held for over 85 hours
without arraignment, the police repeatedly advised Evans of his rights, did not
subject him to continuous or prolonged interrogation, and did not engage in abusive
or intimidating behavior. Further, the court highlighted police testimony that Evans
was alert and did not complain of fatigue. Finally, the court noted that Evans was
twenty-one years old, could read and write, and had prior contact with the police,
including arrests. Based on all of these factors, the Michigan Court of Appeals found
that Evans’s will was not overborne.
Id. (internal citations removed); see also Davis v. Jones, 306 F. App’x 232, 237-38 (6th Cir. 2009)
(denying habeas relief when counsel failed to object to voluntariness of statement given after three
Evans had the same attorney in both cases, Ira Harris. Harris did attempt to have the
inculpatory statement excluded from his other trial in a hearing that was held a few months before
the trial for the Williams murder. Transcript of Hearing, 5/4/01, Evans v. Booker, No.
2:05-cv-74130-NGE-VMM (E.D. Mich. May 16, 2006), ECF No. 13. The motion was denied.
Evans v. Booker
days in custody and during a ninety-six hour pre-arraignment delay). A comparison between Evans’s
two Michigan Court of Appeals decisions—which were issued on the same day—reveals that the
state court’s analysis in this case was actually more thorough than the one previously examined by
this Court. See People v. Evans, No. 238184, 2004 WL 547229, *3 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar.18, 2004).
In particular, the state court in this case observed that Evans “never expressed any hesitation about
talking about the shooting and did not request to speak with a lawyer” and that “there is no evidence
that he was subjected to continuous interrogation or to intimidating police conduct.” Id.
Evans acknowledges that “certain aspects of [his] pre-arraignment detention were at issue”
in the earlier Sixth Circuit case and correctly observes that the decision “does not dictate any
conclusion in this case.” However, this Court may certainly consider the earlier case to the extent
that there are similarities between the cases, just as it would with any other prior decision. See Hall
v. City of Clarksville, 276 F. App’x 457, 463-64 (6th Cir. 2008) (Title VII case comparing prior
Sixth Circuit decision with different plaintiff but same employer and “several overlapping facts”).
Evans suggests that a comparison would be inappropriate because the district court found that “the
circumstances were sufficiently distinct” when it denied consolidation of Evans’s habeas petitions.
However, the order reveals that the court denied consolidation solely because the “petitions
challenge convictions arising from unrelated occurrences.” Moreover, the petitions challenged issues
beyond the voluntariness of either statement, such as a lineup identification which related only to this
There are no differences between Evans’s two cases for most of the factors in the
voluntariness test, including the use of physical punishment, Evans’s mental state, age, and
Evans v. Booker
education, and advice on his constitutional rights. All of these factors support a finding of
voluntariness. Where differences exist, the relevant factors must be considered as part of the totality
of the circumstances of this case. Weighing in Evans’s favor is the fact that the inculpatory
statement here occurred approximately eight hours after the statement considered in the other case.
However, there is nothing in the record to suggest that this additional time—or any events that may
have occurred therein—would have had any significant impact on the voluntariness of Evans’s
Weighing against Evans is the fact that the nature of the questioning regarding the Williams
murder was less “repeated and prolonged.” Although Evans faced four interrogations and gave
multiple statements about the DeBerry murder, it appears that he was only questioned twice about
the Williams murder and gave the inculpatory statement without hesitation after being questioned
by Sergeant Kirk. See McCalvin, 444 F.3d at 720 (finding of coercion would be supported by fact
that “the detectives repeated the same questions several times until McCalvin confessed”); cf. Davie
v. Mitchell, 547 F.3d 297, 331 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Michigan v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96, 102-06
(1975)) (questioning about “entirely different crime” is a “new interrogation” for Miranda purposes).
A comparison of the facts surrounding the inculpatory statements in both cases reveals no significant
distinctions that could justify a different result here.
We join the prior panel of this Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals in condemning
Evans’s “troubling” and “unreasonable” extended, incommunicado detention by the Detroit Police
Department. Evans, 379 F. App’x at 522; Evans, 2004 WL 547232, at *2. However, a review of
Evans v. Booker
the totality of the circumstances does not suggest that Evans’s will was overborne at the time he
made the inculpatory statements about the Williams murder. Evans cannot meet the prejudice prong
of Strickland because a motion to suppress his inculpatory statements would not have succeeded had
one been filed. McCalvin, 444 F.3d at 772. We AFFIRM the district court’s denial of Evans’s
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