Argued: August 3, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:15-cv-11843-Gerald E.
Rosen, District Judge.
R. Shimkus, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing,
Michigan, for Appellant.
S. Sauer, BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS LLP, Nashville,
Tennessee, for Appellee.
M. Christensen-Brown, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY
GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellant.
S. Sauer, Jessica Jernigan-Johnson, Brian R. Epling, Kimberly
M. Ingram, BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS LLP, Nashville,
Tennessee, for Appellee.
Before: SUTTON, McKEAGUE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, Circuit Judge.
this habeas case, Larry Stewart claims that a Confrontation
Clause violation and prosecutorial misconduct undermined the
fairness of his murder trial. But because the state court did
not unreasonably reject these claims, we must reject his
petition. We reverse the district court's contrary
morning of December 19, 2011, Kevin Brown arrived at an
apartment to pick up Reynatta Hamilton for what he thought
was a date. Unbeknownst to Brown, Hamilton's boyfriend,
Larry Stewart, was waiting for him. A struggle ensued. Shots
were fired. The two men grappled with each other down a
stairwell and out the door of the apartment complex. At the
end of a trail of blood, Brown lay dead on the grass with
several gunshot wounds in his chest. Stewart was gone.
charged Stewart and Hamilton with felony murder, felon in
possession of a firearm, armed robbery, and conspiracy to
commit armed robbery. The court held a joint trial.
evidence at trial showed that Stewart and Hamilton planned to
rob Brown. Hamilton, who had met Brown while she was working
at a McDonald's drive-through, would call Brown to her
cousin's apartment for a supposed date. Stewart would
wait with a gun to demand Brown's money. Witnesses
testified that Stewart was with Hamilton at the apartment the
night before the murder; that Stewart brandished a gun,
asserted it was his, said he was "going to rob somebody,
" and invited others to help him that night, R. 8-8 at
35; that Hamilton warned Stewart to hide the gun from her
cousin and then put it in her purse; that Stewart was going
in and out of the apartment in the early morning; that
Stewart left the apartment for good just five minutes before
scuffling and gunshots were heard in the hallway; and that,
after she'd been hit by a stray bullet, the first person
Hamilton called was Stewart.
phone records, as well as statements she made to police,
corroborated the witnesses' testimony. In the two days
leading up to the shooting, Hamilton's phone made 127
different contacts with Stewart's phone and 28 contacts
with Brown's. In the last minutes before the murder,
Hamilton was on the phone with both men. Brown called
Hamilton at 8:30 AM and hung up five minutes later. But
Stewart connected to Hamilton's line at 8:31 AM. For
nearly all of Brown's call, Stewart and Hamilton were
connected via call waiting. Hamilton admitted reaching out to