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02/22/89 the People of the State of v. Jimerson

February 22, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE

v.

VERNEAL JIMERSON, APPELLANT



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

535 N.E.2d 889, 127 Ill. 2d 12, 129 Ill. Dec. 124 1989.IL.210

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Will Gierach, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CALVO took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. JUSTICE CLARK, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MILLER

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant, Verneal Jimerson, was convicted of the murder of two persons. The defendant waived his right to a jury for purposes of a death penalty hearing, and the trial Judge sentenced the defendant to death for the offenses. The defendant's execution was stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 107 Ill. 2d Rules 603, 609(a).

The defendant's convictions and death sentence are the result of his participation in the murders of Larry Lionberg and Carol Schmal on May 11, 1978. The victims were abducted from the service station where Lionberg was employed, located in an unincorporated area of Homewood, and were taken to a vacant townhouse in East Chicago Heights. There, Carol was raped by the defendant and three other men and was shot and killed by one of the attackers. Larry was then led outside to a nearby field, where he was shot and killed.

The victims' bodies were discovered the next day, May 12. Larry was found lying face down on the ground, near a creek. The autoptic evidence established that Larry had been shot two times in the head and once in the back. The cause of his death was a bullet wound to the head, in association with a bullet wound to the heart. Carol's body was found in an upstairs room of the townhouse building; she was lying face down on the floor, and some of her clothing had been removed. Carol had been shot two times in the head at close range, and the cause of death was a bullet wound to the head.

The defendant was initially arrested in connection with these offenses in 1978. The defendant was released from custody, however, following a preliminary hearing when one of the State's witnesses, Paula Gray, recanted her earlier statements implicating him in the crimes. Gray, who was present during the attack on the victims, was the only witness to connect the defendant to the offenses, and the preliminary hearing Judge found that without her testimony there was no probable cause to hold the defendant. There was sufficient evidence, however, to hold the three other male defendants -- Dennis Williams, Willie Rainge, and Kenneth Adams -- and they, as well as Gray, were tried for the offenses later that year in simultaneous proceedings. Williams was convicted of murder, aggravated kidnapping, and rape and was sentenced to death for the murder convictions. Rainge was convicted of murder, aggravated kidnapping, and rape, and he was sentenced to concurrent terms of natural life imprisonment for the murder convictions and to extended terms of imprisonment for the other offenses. Adams was convicted of murder and rape and was sentenced to extended prison terms. Paula Gray was convicted of murder, rape, and perjury; she was sentenced to extended prison terms for the murder and rape convictions and to a 10-year prison term for the perjury conviction.

This court reversed Williams' convictions and death sentence and granted him a new trial because of the ineffective assistance rendered by trial counsel, Archie Weston. (People v. Williams (1982), 93 Ill. 2d 309.) Weston had also represented Rainge, and the appellate court, relying on the decision in Williams, granted Rainge a new trial; the appellate court affirmed the convictions and sentences of Adams, who had been represented by a different attorney at trial. People v. Rainge (1983), 112 Ill. App. 3d 396.

The appellate court affirmed Paula Gray's convictions and sentences. (People v. Gray (1980), 87 Ill. App. 3d 142.) Gray later filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. The district court dismissed her petition, but the court of appeals reversed. (United States ex rel. Gray v. Director, Department of Corrections (7th Cir. 1983), 721 F.2d 586.) The court of appeals held that an actual conflict of interest existed between Paula and codefendant Dennis Williams and that their representation by the same attorney, Weston, had resulted in a denial of her constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. The court found that trial counsel had failed to follow any one of a variety of courses of action that an "independent, conflict-free, competent attorney" would have asserted in Paula's behalf, and that the failure to do so had been to codefendant Williams' advantage. (Gray, 721 F.2d at 596.) The court of appeals therefore reversed the district court's dismissal of Paula's habeas corpus petition and instructed the lower court to enter an order that would effect her release from custody unless the State chose to retry her.

Following the reversal of Gray's convictions in the habeas corpus proceeding, she agreed to testify in the State's behalf against the defendant. In December 1984 the defendant was indicted on the offenses in this case, and he was charged with four counts of murder; it appears that the defendant was not also charged with rape because prosecution for that offense was, by that time, barred by the statute of limitations. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 3-5(b).

The State presented the following evidence at the defendant's trial, which began in late October 1985. Clemente Mireles, the manager of the service station where Larry worked, testified that he arrived at the station around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, 1978, and found it unattended. The building had been ransacked, and inventory worth about $300 was missing. Mireles notified the police. Investigators from the Cook County sheriff's police department found Carol's car at the service station. Her purse, containing her driver's license and other personal effects, was on the front seat. According to the testimony of family members, Carol and Larry were engaged to be married, and Carol, who also worked a night shift, would visit Larry at work on her holidays.

The State's principal trial witness was Paula Gray. In May 1978 Gray was 17 years old and lived with her family at 1525 Hammond Lane in East Chicago Heights. At that time she had known the defendant, Williams, Rainge, and Adams, who was her boyfriend, for one or two months. Paula testified that sometime after midnight on May 11, she and Adams were sitting in his car in front of her home. After a while Paula went inside, and Adams left. Paula testified that while she was getting ready to go to bed she heard a noise, such as that made by a car stuck in mud. Paula went outside to investigate, and she saw Williams with five other persons. Williams noticed Paula and came over and got her, pulling her to where his car was parked. There she saw the defendant, Rainge, Adams, and two white persons, a man and a woman, whom she did not know. The group entered a vacant townhouse located at 1528 Cannon Lane.

While the defendant held Larry downstairs, Williams, Rainge, and Adams led Carol upstairs. There, Williams ordered Carol to remove her clothing. Williams, Rainge, and Adams then raped Carol in succession. Rainge replaced the defendant downstairs, and the defendant then raped Carol and returned downstairs. Williams and Rainge raped Carol again. Adams did not do so, when Paula told him not to. Rainge went downstairs and the defendant came upstairs, and he raped Carol again. The defendant then went back downstairs and Rainge returned. Throughout Carol's ordeal, Paula held a disposable lighter that Williams had provided her with.

Paula testified that Williams ordered Carol to turn over, and he then shot her twice in the head. Williams, Rainge, Adams, and Paula then went downstairs. Williams, Rainge, and the defendant took Larry outside to the banks of a creek running through a nearby field; Paula was also with them, but Adams had gone home. Williams told Larry to lie down. Using the same gun with which he had killed the woman, Williams then shot Larry in the head twice, and Rainge shot him in the back once. The defendant then left the scene. According to Paula, Williams threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about what had occurred.

Paula also said that she spoke to police officers following the crimes and that she testified before a grand jury. In June 1978 she testified at the defendant's preliminary hearing. Paula said that before testifying on that occasion she spoke with Archie Weston, who at that time was representing both the defendant and Rainge. Later that summer Paula was charged with murder, rape, and perjury; the perjury count was based on her testimony at the preliminary hearing. She was convicted of those charges. Paula said that her trial attorney was Weston, who was then also representing Williams and Rainge; she testified several times at her own trial, and later at Williams' sentencing hearing.

On cross-examination at the defendant's trial, defense counsel impeached Paula with portions of her testimony at the June 19, 1978, preliminary hearing, when she recanted her original statement implicating the defendant and the others in the offenses. At the preliminary hearing Paula insisted that she knew nothing about the offenses. In the main, Paula's responses on cross-examination were that she did not now recall the particular questions and answers she was being asked about.

The State also introduced evidence that Paula had provided, on an earlier occasion, an account that was consistent with her testimony at the defendant's trial. The earlier statement was presented through the testimony of Patrick Pastirik, an investigator with the Cook County sheriff's police department who had interviewed Paula around 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 1978, at the sheriff's police station in Homewood. Pastirik said that Paula was indicted in 1978 for murder, rape, and perjury, and that the perjury charge was based on variances in her statements.

Recounting Paula's prior consistent statement, Pastirik testified that Paula said that in the early morning hours of May 11 she was at home, sitting in a car with Kenny Adams. Later, as she was getting ready to go to bed, she heard a noise, and she saw a red Toyota stuck in the mud between two townhouses. Paula went outside and saw Williams, Rainge, Adams, and the defendant; she also saw two white persons, a man and a woman, in the back seat of the red car. Williams noticed Paula and walked over to her and grabbed her by the wrists. Williams led Paula to where the others were standing, and the group entered the townhouse at 1528 Cannon Lane.

According to Pastirik, Paula said that Larry was kept downstairs in the townhouse and Carol was taken upstairs. Williams pushed Carol to the floor and removed some of her clothing. Williams, Rainge, and the defendant raped Carol twice, and Adams raped her once. Williams then removed a gun from his trousers, turned Carol face down on the floor, put the gun to the back of her head, and shot her twice. Larry was taken outside to a field. There, Williams pushed Larry to the ground and, from a standing position, fired two shots into his head. Williams handed the gun to Rainge, who fired a shot into Larry's back. Williams then threw the gun into a nearby creek. According to Pastirik, Paula said that Williams grabbed her and threatened to kill her and her family if she said anything to the police.

Also testifying in the State's behalf was Charles McCraney, a resident of the neighborhood where the murders occurred. In May 1978 McCraney lived at 1533 Hammond Lane with his wife and four children; the family had lived at that location for about two weeks before May 11. McCraney testified that he often saw the defendant, Williams, Rainge, and Adams at the Grays' residence, which was several doors away from his own, and McCraney was familiar with the cars driven by Williams, Rainge, and Adams. McCraney testified that in the early morning hours of May 11 he was practicing his guitar, and that from time to time he would go to the window to check on his car, which was parked outside. At one point that morning McCraney saw a red Toyota drive up. A yellow Vega then pulled in next to the red Toyota, and the two drivers talked. The red car's driver, whom McCraney identified as Dennis Williams, got out of his car and threw a rock at a street light, breaking the bulb. The driver of the Vega, whom McCraney identified as Willie Rainge, then got in Williams' car, and they drove off.

Sometime later, around 3 or 3:15 a.m., McCraney heard the sound of a car stuck in mud. McCraney's building, on Hammond Lane, was separated by a courtyard from the building behind it, which was on Cannon Lane. Williams' car was stalled in the courtyard, and from his upstairs windows McCraney was able to see three or four persons exit from a beige Toyota, which McCraney identified as belonging to Adams, and run from the street to the courtyard area, where they helped free Williams' car. They pushed the car to a position in front of the doorway of the townhouse at 1528 Cannon Lane, and six to eight persons then rushed into the building. About an hour later, McCraney heard the sound of a gunshot.

McCraney testified that he had not been able to see whether the defendant was among the group that entered the townhouse on Cannon Lane, or whether any of those persons were white. McCraney testified that he had seen the defendant in the neighborhood earlier that night, between 10 p.m. and midnight. McCraney said that later that morning, on May 11, he saw Williams stop his car by the street light on Hammond Lane and clear away the broken glass. Williams then entered the Grays' residence.

The next morning, Friday, May 12, McCraney learned that a body had been found in a nearby field. The authorities were notified, and a crowd gathered. McCraney saw Williams in the group, joking with others. Later, the second body was discovered in the townhouse at 1528 Cannon Lane, and McCraney recalled that he had seen Williams' car next to that building. McCraney called the Cook County sheriff's police department, reporting that "the people" responsible for the homicides were present in the crowd and providing descriptions of the red and beige Toyotas he had seen the previous day.

David Capelli, an investigator with the Cook County sheriff's police department, was summoned to the crime scene on Friday, May 12, following the discovery of Larry's body. Around one o'clock that afternoon Capelli received a radio dispatch relating the substance of McCraney's tip. As the officers moved toward the group of onlookers, Capelli noticed two black males break from the crowd and walk briskly away. Capelli and his partner followed the two men, who looked over their shoulders at the officers and speeded up; they were walking toward a red Toyota. The officers caught up with the two men at the car. One of the men, whom Capelli identified as Dennis Williams, was standing on the driver's side and had a set of keys in his hand; the other man, whom Capelli identified as the defendant, was on the passenger's side. The defendant told the officers that he had gone to the car to retrieve his sunglasses. The defendant and Williams were placed under arrest.

In addition to the autoptic evidence, which we have already summarized, the State introduced at trial the results of certain scientific tests performed on physical evidence in this case. Bullets recovered from the bodies of the victims were examined by Walter Sherk, a firearm evidence specialist with the Illinois Department of State Police. Sherk testified that the bullets had been fired from the same gun. Sherk based that Conclusion on a comparison of the bullets' rifling characteristics and striations, or scratches. Rifling characteristics and striations, Sherk explained, are imparted to a projectile as it passes through a gun barrel.

Dennis Williams' car was processed for evidence on Sunday, May 14, 1978. Michael Podlecki, a specialist in forensic serology and microtomy with the Illinois Department of State Police, compared hairs found in the interior of the car with head hair standards of the victims. Podlecki testified that a hair found in the back seat of the car was consistent with Larry's hair, and that hairs found in the trunk and rear floorboard of the car were consistent with Carol's hair. Podlecki also examined oral, vaginal, and rectal swabs taken of Carol at the time of the autopsy. Seminal fluid was found on the vaginal smear, and it was tested for the presence of certain antigens, indicators of blood type secreted by 80% of the population in their bodily fluids. Both blood types A and O were present. Podlecki said that the victim had type O blood but that it could not be determined whether she was a secretor. Tests on the saliva and blood of the defendant, Williams, Rainge, and Adams established that all four were secretors, that Williams and Adams had type A blood, and that the defendant and Rainge had type O blood. Podlecki concluded that the defendant could not be eliminated as a source of the semen. According to the testimony, type O blood is found in 47% of the population.

At trial the defendant presented an alibi defense. The defendant testified that in May 1978 he and his family lived on the north side of Chicago and that he was employed at a car wash in Park Forest South. The defendant said that he did not own a car. The defendant knew Williams and Adams and, less well, Rainge. The defendant also knew the Grays, but he said that he never socialized at their home. The defendant testified that on May 10, 1978, he left work between 6:45 and 7 p.m. and got a ride to East Chicago Heights with his brother-in-law. He went to the home of James and Vanessa Jones; the defendant was married to Vanessa Jones' sister. The house was a block away from Hammond Lane. Jones was unable to drive the defendant and his family home, so the defendant then asked Dennis Williams for a ride; Williams lived across the street from the Joneses. The defendant testified that he had known Williams for several years but that they did not socialize, and that he had not previously asked Williams for a ride. Williams agreed to do it, and they left between 8:30 and 8:45 that evening. The defendant testified that Williams stayed at the defendant's apartment in Chicago for about an hour.

The defendant testified that on Friday morning, May 12, he went to work at the car wash. Following a power failure, the manager permitted the employees to leave. The defendant said that he went to his brother's house in East Chicago Heights, and while he was there he heard that bodies had been discovered in the Cannon Lane neighborhood. The defendant went to the scene, where he saw Dennis Williams. The defendant asked Williams whether he could get his sunglasses from Williams' car. Williams gave the keys to the defendant, who then "trotted" over to the car, opened it, and got his sunglasses. According to the defendant, a law enforcement officer then asked the defendant whose car it was, and the defendant called Williams over. The defendant said that he and Williams were then arrested.

The defendant testified that after his arrest he was taken to the Cook County sheriff's police station in Homewood, where he was questioned and eventually released. The defendant said that he returned to the police station early the next morning, when investigators called him at a relative's home in East Chicago Heights and asked him to come in for further questioning. There he saw Paula Gray talking to an investigator. The defendant testified that the door to the interview room was closed but that he was able to overhear Paula tell the officers that he had not been present during the commission of the crimes. According to the defendant, the officers then told Paula about a $2,500 reward, and Paula responded, "'Yes, he were [ sic ] there . . . if I am going to get the reward.'"

The defendant testified that he was originally charged with these offenses in 1978, that later he was released from custody, and that he was reindicted for the same offenses in December 1984. The defendant stated that he lived in East Chicago Heights from 1979 until 1984. The defendant insisted that he was at his home in Chicago when the offenses were committed. He denied having any part in the commission of the crimes, and he denied that he was with Williams, Rainge, and Adams late in the evening of May 10 and early in the morning of May 11.

The defendant's wife, Nezzie Jimerson, and his sister-in-law, Vanessa Jones, corroborated various parts of the defendant's testimony. Mrs. Jimerson testified that in May 1978 she, the defendant, and their three children had been living on the north side of Chicago. Mrs. Jimerson said that around 8 or 9 o'clock during the evening of May 10, 1978, she and her family were at the home of her sister, Vanessa Jones, in East Chicago Heights. According to Mrs. Jimerson, Dennis Williams gave the family a ride to Chicago later that evening, and they arrived home around 9:30 or 10. Williams stayed there for about half an hour, and she believed that he left before midnight. Mrs. Jimerson testified that the defendant remained at home until he left for work the next morning. Mrs. Jimerson said that the family did not own a car at that time and that one of their neighbors frequently had given them rides to the East Chicago Heights area.

Also testifying in the defendant's behalf was Vanessa Jones, sister of defendant's wife. Mrs. Jones testified that on May 10, 1978, the defendant and his family were at her home. According to Mrs. Jones, her husband was unable to drive the Jimersons to Chicago, and later that evening Dennis Williams gave the family a ride home.

The jury returned verdicts finding the defendant guilty of the murders of Larry Lionberg and Carol Schmal. The State then requested a hearing for purposes of determining whether the defendant should be sentenced to death. The defendant waived his right to a jury, and the hearing was conducted before the trial Judge on December 9, 1985. The parties stipulated that the testimony of the trial witnesses would be the same if called to testify at the sentencing hearing. The parties also stipulated that the defendant was 18 years or older at the time of the offenses. The trial Judge found that the defendant was eligible for the death penalty under the multiple-murder aggravating circumstance, section 9-1(b)(3) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(3)).

At the second stage of the sentencing hearing, the parties again stipulated that the trial witnesses would provide the same testimony if called to testify. The State did not present any further aggravating evidence. The defendant then presented a witness in mitigation, the Reverend Charles Nelson, pastor of a church located in East Chicago Heights. Pastor Nelson testified that he had known the defendant and his family for about 20 years, and he said that the defendant had done maintenance work at the church, without charge. Pastor Nelson said that he found the defendant to be reliable and trustworthy. No further evidence in mitigation was presented. Allowed an opportunity for allocution after the parties' arguments, the defendant declared that he was innocent of the offenses and asserted that the trial jury had been prejudiced against him. The trial Judge ruled that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty and sentenced the defendant to death.

The defendant first contends that his trial counsel was incompetent for failing to impeach Paula Gray more extensively and for failing to offer her prior inconsistent testimony as substantive evidence, as counsel could have done under section 115-10.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 115-10.1). The defendant makes similar contentions with respect to Charles McCraney's testimony, asserting that counsel should have impeached McCraney with several inconsistent statements, and that he should also have used them substantively.

We consider first Paula Gray's testimony. On four earlier occasions Paula had given testimony inconsistent with the testimony she gave at the defendant's trial. Those proceedings in which Paula made inconsistent statements were a preliminary hearing, held in June 1978; a hearing on the motion to suppress her inculpatory statements, in October 1978; her own trial, also in October 1978; and the capital sentencing hearing of co-defendants Williams and Rainge, in January 1979. On each of those occasions Paula testified that she knew nothing about the offenses in this case. She denied having any part in the commission of the crimes, denied having any knowledge about the involvement of Williams, Rainge, Adams, and the defendant, and asserted that she and the four others were innocent. She also declared that her original statements inculpating herself and the others were "lies" that the authorities had concocted and forced her to tell. At the defendant's trial, defense counsel attempted to impeach Paula only with material from the June 1978 preliminary hearing. On cross-examination, Paula replied that she did not remember a number of statements she made at the preliminary hearing, including the statements that she had not seen any white persons on May 11, that the police had made her tell a lie, that her testimony to the grand jury in May 1978 was a lie, that she did not hear a noise after Adams left, and that she did not know anything.

The applicable standard governing our assessment of counsel's performance is set out in Strickland v. Washington (1984), 466 U.S. 668, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 104 S. Ct. 2052; see People v. Albanese (1984), 104 Ill. 2d 504, 526-27 (adopting the Strickland standard for use in Illinois). In Strickland the Court explained:

"A convicted defendant's claim that counsel's assistance was so defective as to require reversal of a conviction or death sentence has two components. First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable. Unless a defendant makes both showings, it cannot be said that the conviction or death sentence resulted from a breakdown in the adversary process that renders the result unreliable." (Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 693, 104 S. Ct. at 2064.)

With respect to the performance prong of the Strickland test, it must be noted that in matters of trial strategy, "strategic choices made after thorough investigation of law and facts relevant to plausible options are virtually unchallengeable; and strategic choices made after less than complete investigation are reasonable precisely to the extent that reasonable professional judgments support the limitations on investigation." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690-91, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 695, 104 S. Ct. at 2066.

In this case, defense counsel was aware that Paula had testified at a number of earlier proceedings in a manner inconsistent with her testimony in the present trial. Nonetheless, counsel chose to attempt to impeach Paula only with her testimony from the June 1978 preliminary hearing. On cross-examination, Paula replied that she could not remember making those statements. Counsel did not make any further efforts to impeach the witness, nor did counsel introduce further evidence showing that the statements had in fact been made.

The value of the potentially impeaching material must be placed in perspective. In her earlier, inconsistent testimony Paula did not exculpate the defendant while inculpating others. At no time in the four earlier proceedings did Paula declare that the defendant was innocent while others were guilty, or even indicate that she knew anything about the offenses. Rather, in her earlier testimony Paula simply maintained that she knew nothing about the offenses in this case, that she, Williams, Rainge, Adams, and the defendant in this case were innocent, and that her original statements inculpating both herself and the four others were "lies." Efforts to impeach Paula with the full range of her prior testimony could well have invited the jury to conclude that her testimony in this case was believable precisely because of the unbelievable character of her earlier assertions that she knew nothing about the crimes and that she, Williams, Rainge, Adams, and the defendant in this case were all innocent of the charges. Not only had Paula, Williams, Rainge, and Adams been convicted, but there was no explanation of how Paula could know that the others were innocent if she herself knew nothing about the offenses. Counsel could well have concluded that further attempts to impeach Paula would not have added significantly to whatever damage had already been done to the State's case.

Similarly, we do not believe that counsel was deficient for failing to make substantive use of any of Paula's prior inconsistent statements, as counsel could have done under section 115-10.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 115-10.1). Paula's prior assertions that she knew nothing about the crimes and that she, Williams, Rainge, Adams, and the defendant in this case were innocent of the offenses would not have provided any greater benefit to the defendant as substantive evidence than as impeachment.

To prevail on a claim alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must establish that he was prejudiced as a result of counsel's errors. Assuming that trial counsel was deficient for failing to impeach Paula Gray more fully and to offer her prior inconsistent testimony as substantive evidence, we do not believe that the defendant was prejudiced. With respect to the prejudice prong of the ineffective-assistance standard, the court in Strickland said:

"The defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." (Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 698, 104 S. Ct. at 2068.)

Counsel's performance in this case does not undermine our confidence in the outcome of the trial. As we have indicated, the impeachment and substantive value of Paula's inconsistent testimony was not great. Her prior statements exculpating herself, the defendant in this case, and Williams, Rainge, and Adams had been rejected by the jury in her own case, and apparently by the sentencing jury in the case of Williams and Rainge. Moreover, as we shall discuss later, the physical and forensic evidence and the testimony of Charles McCraney corroborated much of Paula's testimony at the defendant's trial, and therefore contradicted her earlier inconsistent statements. On the record before us, we are unable to conclude that the defendant was prejudiced as a result of counsel's conduct.

The defendant makes the related contention that counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce evidence of Paula's earlier claims regarding police coercion. In her earlier testimony, she had said that the authorities hit her, threatened her, and made her tell lies. Again, defense counsel could simply have believed that an attempt to obtain a recitation of the witness' prior testimony in that regard would not have been worth the inquiry, opening the door to extensive police testimony regarding their treatment of Paula and the circumstances of her arrest, including her mother's advice to her to tell the truth.

The defendant also argues that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to impeach Charles McCraney with several inconsistent statements he had made in an earlier trial arising from these offenses, and for failing to ...


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