United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, contesting his conviction on one count of
manslaughter in the Louisiana 12th Judicial District Court in
Avoyelles Parish. (Docs. 1, 10, 28). Johnson was sentenced to
life imprisonment as a habitual offender. (Doc. 1).
State v. Johnson, 2006-1263 (La.App. 3d Cir.
2/7/07), 948 So.2d 1229, 1230-31, writs den., 2007-0467,
2007-0509 (La. 10/12/07), 965 So.2d 398-99, the Louisiana
Third Circuit Court of Appeal made the following findings of
facts in this case:
The victim, Willous Johnson, went to Defendant's
apartment, located in Hessmer, Louisiana, around eleven
o'clock at night on December 2, 2004. An altercation
occurred between the victim and Defendant at the door when
the victim tried to force his way into the apartment.
Defendant stabbed the victim in the neck with a kitchen
knife. The victim left the doorway, but collapsed and died in
the parking lot of the apartment complex. Defendant put the
victim's body into the trunk of his live-in
girlfriend's car and with her and two children he drove
to Baton Rouge where he disposed of the body in a ditch along
a country road. The next morning, he sent his girlfriend
home. When she arrived back in Hessmer, she contacted the
police and led them to the body. Defendant fled to
California. He was apprehended ten months later.
convicted Johnson of second-degree murder, and he was
sentenced to life imprisonment. See Johnson, 948
So.3d at 1230. On direct appeal of his conviction, the
Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the
conviction, finding the State had failed to prove Johnson had
the specific intent to kill the victim, who had been trying
to force his way into Johnson's house. See
Johnson, 948 So.3d at 1237-38. The Court of Appeal found
“the jury abused its vast discretion in finding that
Defendant committed second degree murder, ” and entered
a conviction on the lesser and included offense of
manslaughter. See Johnson, 948 So.3d at 1238.
remand for resentencing, the District Attorney filed a
habitual offender bill and Johnson was re-sentenced to life
imprisonment as a fourth felony offender. See State v.
Johnson, 2008-0494 (La.App. 3d Cir. 11/5/08), 996 So.
32d 1235, 1236, writ den., 2008-2844 (La. 9/25/09), 18 So.3d
raises the following grounds for habeas relief (Docs. 1, 10,
1. The evidence was insufficient to support the amended
verdict of manslaughter.
2. Johnson had ineffective assistance of counsel because: (1)
counsel failed to object when the prosecution presented a
different coroner to testify about the victim's autopsy
instead of the coroner who authored the report; (2) counsel
failed to present a forensic pathologist to rebut the
coroner's testimony; (3) counsel erroneously stipulated
to the quantity of drugs and alcohol, marijuana and cocaine
in the victim's system without further investigation; (4)
counsel failed to investigate the crime scene and thereafter
subpoena an expert in the field of decomposition and blood
splatter; (5) counsel failed to investigate and call Kevin
Jacob as a witness to corroborate the defense that the victim
had a gun when Johnson attempted to force his way inside the
apartment; and (6) counsel told the jury during his opening
statement that petitioner was going to testify, but then
failed to place him on the stand.
3. The trial court denied Johnson due process when it refused
to grant his request for funding to hire expert witnesses to
explain the damage decomposition and insect infestation on
the victim's body, and the blood splatter.
answered the petition and admits Johnson has exhausted his
administrative remedies and that his petition is timely ...