from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Ohio at Toledo. No. 3:12-cv-00014-James S. Gwin,
Matthew M. O'Rourke, MILLER JOHNSON, Grand Rapids,
Michigan, for Appellant.
Jonathan R. Khouri, OFFICE OF THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL,
Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.
Before: SUTTON, DONALD, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.
BERNICE BOUIE DONALD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Robert Wilson appeals the district court's dismissal of
his petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, we
AFFIRM the district court's denial of
was convicted of murdering Brenda Navarre in 2008 and
sentenced to 15 years to life. Navarre, a confidential
informant for the Toledo Police Department's
("TPD") Vice Narcotics Unit, was found unresponsive
and bleeding from the head on December 1, 1993. A bloody,
110-pound boulder was found near her body. Navarre died
several days later. Autopsy results showed that Navarre died
of blunt force trauma to the head.
misclassified the offense as a felonious assault, rather than
a homicide after Navarre died from her injuries, and as a
result destroyed the relevant evidence from the scene once
the statute of limitation for felonious assault had expired.
The case remained unsolved and was eventually classified as a
decade later in 2005, Janet Wilson, Wilson's wife, met
with TPD to discuss Wilson's possible involvement in
Navarre's murder. Sergeant Lou Vasquez of the TPD was
investigating a robbery involving Ms. Wilson's grandson,
and after the investigation concluded, Ms. Wilson contacted
Sergeant Vasquez to discuss Navarre's murder. Following
multiple conversations, Ms. Wilson made a formal statement in
August 2006. Subsequently, Detective Bart Beavers, of the
TPD's Cold Case Unit, reopened Navarre's case.
Detective Beavers spoke with Ms. Wilson seven or eight times
about the case. Detective Beavers discovered that
Navarre's murder had been misclassified as a felonious
assault and never properly categorized as murder after she
died from her injuries. As a result of the miscategorization,
the evidence found at the scene had been destroyed.
Wilson testified against Wilson at trial, but owing to
Wilson's assertion of spousal privilege, her testimony
was limited to acts and communications by Wilson in the
presence of a third party. Ms. Wilson's son, Alfonso
Davis, also testified, specifically about the night of the
murder, during which Wilson made comments about confidential
informants. Davis testified that Wilson told him that
"snitch bitches die, " and "he had to kill the
snitch bitch, " and finally, that he had "dropped a
brick on her head." Sergeant Vasquez and Detective
Beavers both testified that Ms. Wilson's statements had
been consistent during the investigation and at trial, but
neither testified to the specific content of her comments to
four-day jury trial, Wilson was convicted of murder and
sentenced to fifteen years to life. On October 23, 2008,
Wilson appealed his conviction to the Ohio Court of Appeals,
arguing that the State had violated his due-process rights by
failing to retain incriminating physical evidence. The court
affirmed his conviction and concluded that the physical
evidence, including the bloody boulder, was not
"materially exculpatory." State v. Wilson,
No. L-08-1380, 2010 WL 2025521, at *6 (Ohio Ct. App. May 21,
2010). Wilson appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which
declined jurisdiction. State v. Wilson, 126 Ohio
St.3d 1598 (Ohio 2010) (table).
November 18, 2009, while Wilson's appeal was pending,
Wilson filed a "motion to vacate or set aside judgment
of conviction or sentence" in the trial court. State
v. Wilson, No. L-13-1210, 2014 WL 1343694, at *2 (Ohio
Ct. App. Mar. 28, 2014). Wilson argued that the state failed
to adhere to discovery obligations under Ohio Crim. R. 16(D)
which deprived him of a fair trial as a result of the police
department's destruction of physical evidence.
Id. On April 29, 2011, the trial court denied
Wilson's motion for post-conviction relief as untimely.
Wilson's direct appeal was pending, he also filed an
application to re-open his appeal under Ohio Appellate Rule
26(B)(1), in which he argued ineffective assistance of
counsel. The Ohio Court of Appeals denied his application,
and the Supreme Court of Ohio dismissed his subsequent
appeal. Wilson v. Sheldon, No. 3:12-cv-14, 2016 WL
4225571, at *1 (N.D. Ohio Aug. 11, 2016).
filed his habeas petition on January 4, 2012, raising ten
grounds for relief. Id. at *2. The Respondent filed
a Return of Writ on March 6, 2015. On June 1, 2016, the
magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation
("R&R"), in which he recommended dismissing
three grounds for relief as procedurally defaulted and
denying six grounds of relief because the state appellate
court "did not unreasonably apply clearly established