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UNITED STATES EX REL. LASH v. COOPER

December 19, 1996

United States of America ex rel. ANTHONY LASH, Petitioner,
v.
Warden KEITH COOPER and Attorney General of the State of Illinois JIM RYAN, Respondents.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

 Petitioner Anthony Lash, an inmate at the state prison in Joliet, Illinois, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254, naming Warden Keith Cooper and Illinois Attorney General Ryan as respondents. *fn1" After careful review, the Court finds that Lash's petition must be denied.

 RELEVANT FACTS

 On November 16, 1990, a Illinois state jury convicted petitioner Anthony Lash of murder. After Lash's conviction, he was sentenced to 34 years in jail. Lash appealed his conviction directly to the Illinois appellate court, which affirmed his conviction on February 22, 1993. Lash then petitioned for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. His petition was denied in an order dated May 10, 1993. The following facts are taken from the order of the Illinois appellate court that affirmed Lash's conviction. *fn2"

 At about 10:15 p.m. on July 2, 1989, James Towns was fatally shot. Detective Kill of the Chicago Police Department had Detective Fred McKinley bring Lash in for questioning about the murder on September 14, 1989. Kill was familiar with Lash because he had interviewed Lash earlier about an unrelated attempted murder. Lash, who was then 16 years old, was being held in the Audy Home as a suspect in that attempted murder.

 At the interview, Kill reintroduced himself and introduced McKinley and Balcitis, and read Lash Miranda warnings from an FOP handbook. Lash, who had been read the same warnings during a July 19 interview regarding the attempted murder charge, indicated that he understood each right. Kill also told Lash that the nature of the charges allowed him to be charged as an adult. Lash indicated that he understood and that he wished to make a statement about the Towns murder.

 Kill testified at trial that Lash made an oral statement in which he confessed that on July 2, he and some friends drove past Towns' house several times in a brown station wagon, and then parked near the house. Lash noticed that Towns' car windows were open and expected that Towns would come out to roll them up. When Towns did so, Lash approached Towns, fired four shots at him, and then drove off in the brown station wagon. Lash later gave the gun to someone else who in turn sold it. The police eventually obtained the gun and it was introduced as evidence at trial.

 Lash contends that he never made any statement, but that the police were "asking me questions in force as if putting words in my mouth" and were telling him what happened. Lash's statement was not reduced to writing or signed. At the suppression hearing, Lash testified that he was frightened during the interview because he thought he would be beaten. *fn3" After hearing the evidence, the trial court found that Lash had not asked for an attorney, had received a proper warning of his rights, had had previous experience with custodial interrogations, had not been physically abused, and that the interrogation had lasted about a half hour. On the basis of these findings, the court held that the confession was voluntary and denied Lash's motion to suppress.

 At trial, the evidence against Lash came primarily from his confession and from eyewitness testimony from Eugene Hammond, a neighbor of Towns. Hammond testified that he lived four houses down from Towns. He was in his front yard talking with a friend at about 10 p.m. on July 2, 1989, when he noticed a brown station wagon with four people in it. He had seen the same car drive by earlier that day. About that time, Towns came out of his house and went to his car to roll up the windows. The brown station wagon stopped and Lash got out and walked down the sidewalk toward Towns, passing about ten to fifteen feet from Hammond as he did so. The street lights were on, and Hammond saw Lash's face when Lash looked at him. Towns turned and saw Lash and began yelling for help. Lash shot Towns from a short distance away and then ran. About four minutes later, Hammond saw the brown station wagon drive by the murder scene.

 In August 1989, the police showed Hammond a photograph of Lash, which he later identified in court. In September 1989, Hammond viewed a lineup at the police station and identified Lash. At trial, Hammond identified a photograph of the lineup and identified Lash in that picture.

 Lash testified at his trial, denying any involvement with Towns' murder, and claiming that the police fabricated his confession.

 Before trial, Lash obtained a motion in limine precluding the State from referring to his prior juvenile record or his open charge of attempted murder. The trial court also ruled that unless the jury requested to see the photographs from which he was identified, i.e., mug shots, the pictures would not be shown.

 At trial, the prosecutor asked Kill about the photographs shown to witnesses:

 
Q: What did those pictures show?
 
A: They were what are commonly called mug shots, identification photographs taken by the Chicago Police Department ...

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