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149479 - People v Ackley (Leo)

The People of the State of Michigan,
 
Marc Crotteau
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Calhoun – Kingsley, J.)
 
Leo Duwayne Ackley, a/k/a Leo Duane Ackley, Jr., and Leo Duwayne Ackley II,
 
Andrew J. Rodenhouse
 
Defendant-Appellant.
 

Summary

On April 18, 2012, a jury convicted Leo Ackley of felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of the 3 1/2 year old child of his live-in girlfriend. On May 7, 2012, he was sentenced to serve a term of life without the possibility of parole. Ackley appealed raising the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel.  He argued that his attorney failed to obtain expert testimony regarding the child’s injuries to support the theory that her death was accidental, and not the result of child abuse. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing. The Court of Appeals ordered the trial court to make rulings of fact, law, and determine whether Ackley was entitled to a new trial. The trial court held that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel, and granted Ackley’s motion for a new trial. Specifically, the court found that defense counsel failed to contact two experts who defense counsel had been informed might support the defense theory that the child’s injuries were caused by a short fall rather than by child abuse.
 
The prosecution appealed. In an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted Ackley a new trial.  Defense counsel acted reasonably, held the panel, and it was not likely that the outcome would have been affected if a different expert had been consulted. 
 
Ackley sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. On November 26, 2014, the Supreme Court ordered oral argument on whether to grant the application or take other action. The parties were instructed to address whether the defendant was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on the trial counsel’s failure to adequately investigate the possibility of obtaining expert testimony in support of the defense.