had been recently convicted of murder. Juror Williams Means had been convicted of disorderly conduct and had a friend who was convicted of armed robbery. Finally, the fourth juror, Victor Williams, was not even challenged by the state, but was excused for cause by the trial court. Based on these facts, I cannot hold that the state court's decision involved an unreasonable application of federal law. This claim is denied.
Fourth Amendment Claim
Mr. Rice claims that the trial court should have suppressed the inculpatory statement he made to the authorities for lack of probable cause to arrest him. He contends that he was under arrest before he made an oral inculpatory statement but that the police did not have probable cause to arrest him for the murder at that time.
Under Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1067, 96 S. Ct. 3037 (1976), federal courts may only entertain Fourth Amendment challenges on habeas corpus review if the petitioner has not been afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claim in state court. A petitioner has been provided a full and fair opportunity to litigate when (1) he has clearly informed the state court of the factual basis for the claim and has argued that those facts constituted a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, (2) the state court has carefully and thoroughly analyzed the facts, and (3) applied the proper constitutional case law to the facts. Weber v. Murphy, 15 F.3d 691, 694 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1097, 128 L. Ed. 2d 486, 114 S. Ct. 1865 (1994).
Mr. Rice informed the state court of the factual basis for this Fourth Amendment claim. He claims that the police explicitly told him that he was under arrest before he made any inculpatory statements; therefore, the subsequent confession to the murder was the fruit of the illegal arrest. He had a full suppression hearing on the Fourth Amendment claim and raised it again on direct appeal.
The appellate court thoroughly analyzed the facts and found that Mr. Rice was not under arrest until after he made his first oral incriminating statement. Two police officers testified that Mr. Rice was not under arrest until he made the statement. Mr. Rice voluntarily accompanied the detectives from his home to the stationhouse to discuss the murder. He then voluntarily agreed to undergo a polygraph examination. Following the polygraph test, he agreed to return to the stationhouse to continue his cooperation in the police investigation of the murder. Upon their arrival at the stationhouse, Mr. Rice waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak to the detectives. He was given food and drink, and was not handcuffed prior to his first oral incriminating statement. He never expressed a desire to leave the stationhouse before he made his oral inculpatory statement to the officers. Based on these facts, the appellate court did not disturb the trial court's finding that Mr. Rice's account of the events was "generally completely incredible."
Finally, the appellate court applied correct constitutional law. A person is seized, or under arrest, if in view of all the circumstances, a reasonable person would believe that he was not free to leave. Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 439, 115 L. Ed. 2d 389, 111 S. Ct. 2382 (1991). The appellate court analyzed the facts under this standard and found that Mr. Rice was not under arrest prior to making his inculpatory statements, and that in fact, Mr. Rice voluntarily remained with the police.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Mr. Rice claims that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that the state's theory of the case did not make sense and that there were numerous inconsistencies between the statement he gave the police and the physical evidence.
The relevant inquiry for a federal habeas court reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim is "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 61 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 2781 (1979). The appellate court applied this constitutional standard, and therefore, it did not apply law contrary to clearly established federal law.
The appellate court's decision also did not involve an unreasonable application of federal law. Mr. Rice confessed to killing the victim. He stated that he strangled the victim in his own apartment and then concealed the body in the adjacent, abandoned building. Other state's evidence confirmed Mr. Rice's description of the incident. Thus, the appellate court found that Mr. Rice's asserted inconsistencies in his statement did not create a reasonable doubt. A rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
This claim is denied.
For the foregoing reasons, Mr. Rice's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.
Elaine E. Bucklo
United States District Judge
Dated: December 10, 1997
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