United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
E. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Davis was charged in Wisconsin state court with recklessly
causing great bodily harm to his three-month-old daughter,
convicted by a jury, and sentenced to fifteen years'
imprisonment. He filed a post-conviction motion, arguing that
his trial lawyer erred when he failed to impeach the
baby's mother with her prior criminal convictions. The
state courts rejected Mr. Davis's claim, finding that he
had not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his
counsel's alleged error. Mr. Davis is currently serving
his sentence at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution in
2017, Mr. Davis filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that he is in
custody in violation of the United States Constitution
because his trial lawyer provided ineffective assistance of
counsel. The respondent maintains that Mr. Davis has not
satisfied his burden of proving that his claim merits relief
under the deferential standards set forth in § 2254. The
Court agrees. Because the state court's decision denying
Mr. Davis's ineffective-assistance claim is not
objectively unreasonable, Davis is not entitled to relief
under § 2254. The Court therefore will deny his habeas
14, 2013, Lakiesha Bowie took her three-month-old daughter,
LD, to Children's Hospital after LD woke up with bruising
around her face and red spots in her eyes. See
Exhibit 1 to Answer to Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
2, ECF No. 13-1. After being examined by Angela Rabbitt, a
pediatric child-abuse specialist, it was determined that LD
had suffered bruising and hemorrhages to her eyes; fractures
to her left tibia, left fibula, and both femurs; and a tear
to the tissue connecting her upper lip to her gums. Ex. 1, at
2-3. Dr. Rabbitt told Milwaukee police that LD's injuries
were consistent with child abuse. Ex. 1, at 3-4.
Amy Stolowski interviewed Ms. Bowie at the hospital during
the early morning hours of May 15, 2013. Ms. Bowie told
Officer Stolowski that she had taken LD to the hospital five
times in the last month, as LD had been very fussy. She also
reported noticing similar bruising around LD's left eye
within the last month. But Ms. Bowie had no explanation as to
a potential cause for LD's broken bones. According to Ms.
Bowie, she and LD's father, Anthony Davis, were LD's
only caregivers. Ex. 1, at 2.
police also interviewed Mr. Davis at the hospital. He
confirmed that he lived with Ms. Bowie and LD. However, Mr.
Davis did not have any explanation for LD's injuries or
what caused them. Ex. 1, at 2.
Davis was nevertheless taken into custody on suspicion of
child abuse and interviewed by Detective Marilynn Francis. At
first, he denied knowing how LD broke her legs. But he
eventually admitted to hearing a popping sound a few days
prior when he had LD stand up while holding onto his finger.
Mr. Davis also admitted to playing too rough with LD and that
Ms. Bowie had told him to be gentle with her. When Mr. Davis
demonstrated on a doll how he changed LD's diaper, he
spread the doll's legs extremely wide and pushed the legs
to its chest. Mr. Davis stated that LD often cried when he
changed her diaper. Ex. 1, at 2-3.
Circuit Court proceedings
18, 2013, Mr. Davis was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit
Court with one count of physical abuse of a child by
recklessly causing great bodily harm. See Exhibit 8
to Answer ¶ 1 n.1, ECF No. 13-8; see also State v.
Davis, 885 N.W.2d 807 (Wis. Ct. App. 2016). A second
child-abuse charge was added a few days later after it was
discovered that LD also had six broken ribs. See Ex.
1. Mr. Davis was appointed counsel through the state public
defender's office. See Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 By a Person
in State Custody 11, ECF No. 1. Prior to trial, the parties
stipulated that Ms. Bowie, a State witness, would admit to
eight prior convictions; if he testified, Mr. Davis, would
admit to five prior convictions. Ex. 8, ¶ 2.
witnesses testified at trial. Officer Stolowski indicated
that she interviewed Mr. Davis at the hospital and that he
had no explanation for LD's injuries. Ex. 8, ¶ 3.
Detective Francis stated that Mr. Davis also initially denied
having any knowledge about the source of LD's injuries
during his custodial interview. Ex. 8, ¶ 4. But
eventually Mr. Davis admitted that LD had fallen off a bed
and a rocker, that he had heard a popping sound while walking
with LD the day before her hospital visit, and that Ms. Bowie
had complained about him being too rough with LD. The Francis
interview was recorded, and portions of it were played for
Bowie testified that she had taken LD to the hospital several
times during the month prior to the May hospitalization. Ex.
8, ¶ 5. She further testified that she and Mr. Davis
were LD's sole caregivers. Ms. Bowie claimed that she was
confused about the cause of LD's injuries and that she
told doctors that she rolled over LD while co-sleeping one
time. According to Ms. Bowie, Mr. Davis was also at the
hospital that day, and he never mentioned that he could have
caused LD's injuries. Ms. Bowie also identified Mr.
Davis's voice in several jail calls in which Mr. Davis
admitted to using drugs and sitting on LD. However, Ms. Bowie
claimed that she was unaware that Mr. Davis used drugs. Ms.
Bowie was not asked about her prior convictions. See
Exhibit 14 to Answer 36:25-83:3, ECF No. 13-14.
Rabbitt described LD's injuries and opined that they were
likely caused by child abuse. Ex. 8, ¶ 6. She explained
that the injuries were rare for a non-mobile infant, that the
hemorrhages and bruising could be indicative of blunt-force
trauma, and that the broken legs were consistent with them
being pulled and twisted or shaken violently. According to
Dr. Rabbitt, LD's injuries could not have been caused by
Ms. Bowie rolling onto her while sleeping.
Davis testified in his own defense. After acknowledging that
he had five prior convictions, see Exhibit 15 to
Answer 44:10-15, Mr. Davis told the jury that he never
squeezed, shook, or pulled LD, see Ex. 8, ¶ 7.
He did, however, admit that a few days prior to the May
hospitalization he used cocaine and accidentally sat on LD
for “a couple of seconds” inside a motel room
where the family was staying; Mr. Davis claimed that he
weighed 315 pounds at the time. Mr. Davis also admitted that
he had told the police that Ms. Bowie was a wonderful mother.
jury ultimately found Mr. Davis guilty of both charges. Ex.
8, ¶ 1. He was sentenced to ten years of initial
confinement and five years of extended supervision on each
charge; the sentences were ...