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Williams v. Bowersox

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 20, 2017

ANTHONY SCOTT WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL BOWERSOX, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NOELLE C. COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the petition of Anthony Williams for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). After reviewing the case file, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to relief. Therefore, the petition is denied.

         Background

         Petitioner was charged, by way of Information in Lieu of Indictment, with one count of attempted robbery in the first degree, one count of murder in the second degree, and two counts of armed criminal action. Resp't Ex. B, 20-21. After a jury trial, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to an aggregate term of thirty years' imprisonment. Id. at 67-71.

         The facts of this case, as set forth by the Missouri Court of Appeals, are as follows:

On or about March 22, 2010, Earl Bush (Victim) and Ebonyi Blakely (Witness) went to the Nico Terrance Apartments in St. Louis County. As they were leaving the complex, [Williams] told them that “Sed” wanted him to stop Victim. Victim parked the car and waited for [Williams] to get Sed.
When [Williams] came back outside and told Victim that Sed would be out in a minute, Victim said he could not wait, and gave [Williams] his phone number. As Victim began to pull away, [Williams] pulled out a gun and said, “give it up” or “give me what you got.” When Victim continued to drive away, [Williams] shot and killed Victim.
After following “rumors, suspects, and innuendos”, the lead investigator of Victim's homicide, Detective Bob Vogel (Detective Vogel), developed two lineups to show Witness. After Witness identified [Williams] from the second lineup, Detective Vogel arrested and interrogated [Williams]. Although [Williams] initially denied being at the apartment complex the night of the murder, he eventually admitted that he shot Victim. [Williams] explained that because Victim had robbed him at gunpoint earlier in the evening, he shot Victim while trying to get his money back. When left alone in the interview room, the police recorded [Williams] saying to himself, “I can't believe I did that. I fucked my whole life up” and he couldn't believe his friend “snitched” on him. When Detective Vogel returned to the room, however, [Williams] said he had lied earlier, and that he did not shoot Victim.
At trial, [Williams] testified in his own defense that he did not shoot Victim, and that he was not present during the alleged shooting. During the State's closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury:
Now, the investigation led to [Williams]. Detective Vogel didn't just pull his name out of a hat. They had his name before [Witness] ever identified him. That's why they knew who to show her.
After defense counsel objected claiming that the prosecutor misstated the evidence, the trial court told the jury to “ignore the last statement.” Afterwards, the prosecutor continued:
They got [Williams's] name before [Witness] ever identified him. That's how [Detective Vogel] knew what pictures to show her, what picture to put in the lineup to show her. They had his name.
Defense counsel did not object to this statement.
Following the close of all evidence and arguments by both sides, the jury found [Williams] guilty of one count of attempted robbery in the first degree, one count of murder in the second degree, and two counts of armed criminal action.

Resp't Ex. E, 2-4.

         On direct appeal, Petitioner argued that the trial court plainly erred in failing to sua sponte declare a mistrial during the prosecutor's closing argument because the prosecutor made improper statements. Resp't Ex. C, 9. Specifically, Petitioner argued that the prosecutor's statement, “They got [Williams's] name before [Witness] ever identified him. That's how [Detective Vogel] knew what pictures to show her, what picture to put in the lineup to show her. They had his name, ” injected matters improper for consideration into the minds of the jurors and inflamed their passions and prejudices. Id.

         The Missouri Court of Appeals reviewed Petitioner's claim for plain error because he failed to preserve it for appeal. Id. The court affirmed, finding that the prosecutor's remarks were supported by the evidence. Id. at 10-11. The court also found that the remarks did not prejudice Petitioner because the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. Id. at 11. The judgment was entered on April 9, 2013, and the mandate issued on May 1, 2013. Id. at 1, 4-5.

         On November 12, 2013, Petitioner filed a Rule 29.15 motion for postconviction relief. Williams v. Missouri, No. 13SL-CC04045 (St. Louis County). The government moved to dismiss the motion as untimely, and on May 2, 2014, the court granted the government's motion and dismissed the case. Id.; Resp't Ex. F, 1-2. Petitioner did not appeal.

         Grounds ...


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