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Perreault v. Smith

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 27, 2017

Scott David Perreault, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Willie Smith, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued: October 3, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:14-cv-11022-Marianne O. Battani, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Edward F. Roche, ROPES & GRAY LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Andrea M. Christensen-Brown, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Edward F. Roche, Jonathan S. Klarfeld, ROPES & GRAY LLP, Washington, D.C., Alexandra L. Roth, ROPES & GRAY LLP, New York, New York, Justin G. Florence, ROPES & GRAY LLP, Boston, Massachusetts, for Appellant.

          Andrea M. Christensen-Brown, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: CLAY, ROGERS, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          SUTTON, Circuit Judge.

         In 2009, a Michigan jury convicted Scott Perreault of murdering his four-month-old daughter. He filed a habeas petition in federal court claiming that police failed to honor his request for counsel and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. The district court denied his petition. Because the state courts did not unreasonably apply the Supreme Court's teachings in either area, we affirm.

         I.

         Perreault lived with his fiancée Jamie Newman and their four-month-old daughter Jenna Perreault. On the morning of September 2, 2008, Newman left Jenna at home with Perreault. At about 10:00 a.m., Perreault called 911 to report that Jenna had been injured. Police and paramedics arrived on the scene and found that Jenna had suffered a blunt-force trauma to the head. They rushed her to the hospital, where she died from her injuries two days later.

         Perreault was indicted for first-degree felony murder and two counts of felony child abuse. At trial, he claimed that he had dropped Jenna while holding her in the kitchen, that he had fallen on top of her, and that she may have hit her head on an object in the kitchen as the two fell together. The State disputed this account, relying in part on the testimony of the emergency room doctor who treated Jenna, Dr. Matthew Deibel. Dr. Deibel testified that Jenna's injuries could have been caused only by a narrow range of high-impact events, such as a high-speed car accident, a fall from several stories, or "a baseball bat to the head." Based on this and other evidence, the State argued that Jenna's injuries were caused ...


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