United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MICHAEL D. ELLINGTON, Petitioner,
SHAWN PHILLIPS, Warden, Respondent.
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael D. Ellington, a Tennessee inmate proceeding pro se,
has filed a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 challenging his Tennessee conviction for
first-degree murder. Having considered the submissions of the
parties, the State-court record, and the law applicable to
Ellington's claims, the Court finds that the petition
should be denied.
SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
D. Ellington shot and killed his girlfriend, Julia Kinsey, on
March 17, 2009 [See, e.g., Doc. 6-1 p. 3-4]. He was
indicted by a Monroe County Grand Jury with first-degree
premeditated murder a few months later [See id.].
Following a jury trial where he claimed self-defense,
Ellington was convicted as charged and was sentenced to life
imprisonment [Id. at 6-7; see also Doc. 6-4
p. 59-66]. Ellington's conviction and sentence were
affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
(“TCCA”) on direct appeal. State v.
Ellington, No. 2012-00908-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 5718184, at
* 1 (Tenn. Crim App. Aug. 13, 2013) perm. app.
denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2014) (“Ellington
I”). The Tennessee Supreme Court denied
Ellington's application for permission to appeal [Doc.
6-10]. Ellington did not petition the United States Supreme
Court for a writ of certiorari [See Doc. 1 p. 2].
Ellington filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief
[Doc. 6-11 p. 3-17]. The post-conviction court subsequently
appointed Ellington counsel who filed two amended petitions
raising a claim that the State failed to disclose evidence
favorable to the defense, along with numerous claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel [Id. at 21-50].
Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court
denied the petition [Id. at 74-92]. Ellington
appealed the post-conviction court's decision to the
TCCA, raising as a single issue whether the State failed to
provide him with evidence to impeach the crime scene
detective, and/or that counsel rendered ineffective
assistance in failing to use the available impeachment
evidence [See Doc. 6-18 p. 6-22]. The TCCA affirmed
the denial of post-conviction relief. Ellington v.
State, 2016 WL 7011578, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 1,
2016) (“Ellington II”). Ellington did
not file an application for permission to appeal to the
Tennessee Supreme Court.
about June 19, 2017, Ellington filed the instant petition for
federal habeas relief, raising the following claims, as
paraphrased by Respondent:
1. Trial counsel was ineffective “by failing to put on
any facts or counter-evidence which challenged the underlying
facts asserted at trial by the State that the killing of the
victim was” premeditated.
2. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to suppress
Petitioner's statement to police.
3. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object to
prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.
4. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to effectively
cross-examine the crime scene detective and to use
impeachment evidence to attack his credibility.
5. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object to the
testimony of the medical examiner.
6. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to put on proof
of Petitioner's mental state as to the required mens
rea for first-degree murder.
7. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to raise facts
sufficient to support a defense of self-defense.
8. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to pursue and
preserve for appeal in a motion for new trial the trial
court's denial of trial counsel's motion to continue
and the trial court's failure to rule on a motion to
9. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to raise numerous
Brady claims in the motion for new trial, thereby
waiving the issue on appeal.
10. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to obtain the
services of a firearm expert to testify that it was not
possible for ...