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Davis v. Cain

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

August 24, 2018


          JUDGE FOOTE




         A Caddo Parish jury convicted Charles Ray Davis (“Petitioner”) of three counts of molestation of a juvenile. He was adjudicated a second-felony habitual offender on one of the counts, and he received concurrent sentences of 10, 25, and 58 years. His convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal. State v. Davis, 108 S.3d 833 (La.App. 2d Cir. 2013), writ denied, 123 So.3d 163 (La.). He also pursued a post-conviction application in state court. Petitioner now seeks federal habeas relief on the basis of insufficient evidence, denial of the right to present a defense, and four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that his petition be denied.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         A. Relevant Facts

         1. Introduction

         A Shreveport hospital called the Shreveport Police Department to report the sexual assault of a child. Detective Deondre Belle with the Sex Crimes Unit conducted an investigation, which resulted in Petitioner's arrest for the molestation of 14-year-old MoT, 13-year-old MG, and 11-year-old MyT. Petitioner is MG's uncle, and he was in a relationship with the mother of MyT and MoT, who are sisters. Each of the three girls was interviewed at the Gingerbread House, a local advocacy center with employees who are trained to conduct forensic interviews of children. Sarah Jose testified about how she conducted the interviews, and audio-video recordings of the interviews were introduced into evidence. As discussed below, the three girls each testified live at the trial, and their video-taped interviews were played for the jury. DVD recordings and transcripts of the interviews are in the record at Docs. 23 and 25.

         2. Bobbie Jean Burns

         Bobbie Jean Burns testified that she attended the 13th birthday party for her granddaughter, MG. There was talk at the gathering that a young boy said he had sex with MG. Ms. Burns asked MG to tell her the truth about what happened. The girl denied having any relationship with the boy, but she burst out crying and said, “Granny, it was not him.” MG continued, “It's not him. It was Dolla.” Ms. Burns explained that Dolla is a nickname for Petitioner, who is MG's uncle (half-brother to MG's mother). Ms. Burns summoned MG's mother and told her that the child had said that it was Dolla and not the boy. MG also told her grandmother that she had written on the wall in her bedroom to note what happened.

         Ms. Burns took MG to the hospital the next morning. On the way, MG was still crying, and she said it was the truth but no one would believe her. The prosecutor asked Ms. Burns if MG explained to her what it meant when she said Dolla did it. Ms. Burns said she had: “That they had sex.” Ms. Burns said the child did not tell her how many times they had sex, but Burns later testified that MG told her, “Granny, it's the truth. He did. He was in my room one night. He did, Granny.” MG also told Ms. Burns that Dolla had sex with one of her friends, MyT. Tr. 250-64.

         3. MG

         MG, who was 14 at the time of trial, watched her video interview and testified that her statements in that interview were true. MG stated in the recorded Gingerbread House interview that she was then 13 and in the seventh grade. She said that she was there “because of my uncle, ” and she described the incidents with him. The first time, he came to her room and “told me to give him five minutes.” She asked, “For what?” Petitioner then “started feeling on me and stuff, ” and MG asked him to move. She said he “started rubbing on my belly and my legs” on top of her clothes. He then “took off his clothes” and “forced hisself on me.” When asked to explain what that meant, MG said, “He pushed hisself inside of me.” The examiner later showed MG drawings of male and female bodies and asked her to explain what happened when Petitioner forced himself inside of her. She marked the drawings and said that Petitioner used his “private part” and forced it inside of her “private part.”

         MG described another incident when Petitioner “walked in and he started feeling on me again.” Petitioner stopped when MG's brother walked in the house. When asked to explain what happened during the incident, she said, “He eased up under my shirt” and touched her on her belly.

         MG described another time when she was with her cousin MyT. The girls were in a bed playing when Petitioner entered the room “and he started feeling on her.” She said that Petitioner started rubbing or feeling on both girls' legs. When asked to elaborate where he was feeling on MyT, she said, “All between her legs.” MG was not sure if it was on top of or below MyT's clothes because Petitioner's hand was under the cover. MyT scooted down in the bed. “And as she was scooting in the bed, he was getting closer on the bed.” MG said that when Petitioner felt on her on that occasion it was on her legs, stomach, and belly “under my clothes.”

         In the courtroom, MG identified photographs of what she had written on the wall in her bedroom. One writing was dated October 6, 2010 and said, “Dolla drunk, touched me and did something he had no business.” The other writings were dated 2010 without more specification. They said, “Dolla is wrong for what he did, ” “Dolla touch me in the wrong spot, ” “Dolla did it again, ” and “Dolla touch My-My (a nickname for MyT).” Tr. 278-303.

         4. MyT

         MyT, who was 13 at the time of trial, testified about the incidents and confirmed her statements made in her recorded interview. She described Dolla/Petitioner as her mother's boyfriend, who sometimes stayed in their home. She said that she sometimes slept over at MG's house.

         MyT told the Gingerbread House examiner that she was then 11 and in the sixth grade. She described the several members of her household and said that she knew she was at the Gingerbread House “because of Dolla and what he did to my cousin.” The examiner asked her if Dolla ever touched her, and she said, “Yeah, sometimes.” The examiner asked MyT to describe what had happened. MyT said that when she stayed with her cousin (MG) Petitioner “will come up over there and, like, touching on us.” When asked where he had touched MyT, she said, “Like, right here (uses her right hand to touch her breast area) and down here (uses her right hand to point between her legs).” She said he had done that two or three times on top of her clothes. When asked if he ever touched her under her clothes, she shook her head no. MyT talked about getting ready for school one day when Petitioner “tried to feel on me.”

         MyT was also asked to describe what she had seen Petitioner do to MG. She said that she had seen Petitioner touch MG on top of her clothes but not underneath them. She said that Petitioner would “just, like, touch on her, ” and MG would ask him to move, or she would move around the room.

         The examiner showed MyT drawings of bodies and asked her to circle the parts where Petitioner had touched her. The child did so as she said, “Right here and here.” The examiner asked MyT what she called those parts of her body, and she answered, “Breasts and private.”

         MyT testified at trial that Petitioner never touched her when they were at her house. She said Petitioner did not threaten her. He did give her money on the same day he touched her, but she did not think it was for that reason. Tr. 312-23.

         5. MoT

         MoT, who was 15 at the time of trial, testified live and confirmed the truth of the statements in her recorded interview. MoT told the Gingerbread House examiner that she was then 14 and in the seventh grade. She is MyT's sister and lives with several other family members. She said that she was at the interview because Petitioner “be touching me and stuff.”

         She said that when Petitioner would spend the night, “He be touching me right here and stuff and I be telling him to stop.” As she said that, she used her right hand to circle and point to her breasts. She said she had clothes on during such touching, which happened more than one time. She also said that she had seen him touching MyT (on top of her clothes) and touching her cousin. Describing the touching of MyT, she said, “That he be touching her (indicating) like -- that he be touching her (indicating) like right --.” As she said that, she used her right hand to twice point to her breasts.

         MoT testified that she told two older brothers about Petitioner touching her, but she was not sure when she told them. Petitioner did not threaten her or give her anything when he touched her, and he did not tell her not to tell anyone. She said that she and MyT did talk to each other about Petitioner touching them. Tr. 324-33.

         6. ...

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