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U.S. EX REL COSBY v. WILLIAMS

July 23, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. MONICA COSBY, Petitioner,
v.
ALYSSA B. WILLIAMS, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLANCHE MANNING, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Petitioner Monica Cosby's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is before the court. For the following reasons, Cosby's petition is denied.

I. Background

  The court will presume that the state court's factual determinations are correct for the purposes of habeas review as Cosby does not challenge them and has not provided clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Todd v. Schomig, 283 F.3d 842, 846 (7th Cir. 2002). The court thus adopts the state court's recitation of the facts, and will briefly summarize the key facts which are relevant to Cosby's § 2254 petition. See People v. Cosby, No. 1-98-3770 (1st Dist. Jun. 6, 2000) (direct appeal) (unpublished order); People v. Cosby, No. 96 CR 1896 (Cir.Ct. Apr. 8, 2001) (trial court's disposition of collateral attack) (unpublished order); People v. Cosby, No. 1-01-2083 (1st Dist. May 27, 2003) (collateral appeal) (unpublished order).

  A. Bobbie King's Death

  The victim, Bobbie King, lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Rodgers Park with her young son. In late 1995, Kevin King (Bobbie's adult son), Cosby (Kevin's girlfriend), and Cosby's three children moved into Bobbie's apartment. The new arrivals caused Bobbie to give up her bedroom and sleep on the floor by her son's crib. Bobbie must not have liked the new living arrangement as she told her daughter that she wanted Kevin, Cosby, and Cosby's children to move out.

  Shortly thereafter, on December 26, 1995, Cosby and Kevin went over to a friend's apartment and Cosby consumed beer, rum, and marijuana. Later that evening after Kevin and Cosby returned to Bobbie's apartment, Bobbie told them that they would have to move out in a few days. Bobbie, Kevin, and Cosby argued. Cosby took her children into the kitchen while Kevin and his mother continued to argue. Kevin then entered the kitchen, told Cosby that everything would be all right because he had killed his mother, and led Cosby to the bathroom where she saw Bobbie's body, with a bloodied face and head, lying motionless in the doorway.

  Cosby obtained a plastic bag and placed it over Bobbie's head. Kevin secured the bag by tying an electrical cord around Bobbie's neck. Cosby and Kevin then moved the body into the bathtub, covered it with clothing, and retired to the living room to engage in sexual relations and take a nap. Several hours later, they tied Bobbie's hands and feet together, wrapped her body in a shower curtain, placed her upside-down in a shopping cart, and hid the cart in a neighbor's closet.

  Bobbie's daughter called the police when her mother was missing. The police thus visited Bobbie's apartment twice during the afternoon of December 27th. The first time, Cosby denied that she knew Bobbie. The second time, she told them that she had last seen Bobbie at approximately 5:00 a.m., just before she and Kevin had gone into the bedroom to engage in sexual relations. According to Cosby, when they emerged, Bobbie was gone. Police arrived for a third time later that day pursuant to a call from one of Cosby's friends who told the police that Cosby had shown her the body. Cosby and Kevin were subsequently arrested and charged with murder and concealment of a homicidal death.

  B. Questioning by Police

  Shortly after midnight on December 28th, while in police custody, Cosby invoked her right to remain silent. Around that time, she met with Alan Mills, a family friend and attorney. Mills also reiterated that Cosby wished to remain silent. At approximately 3:00 a.m., the police again informed Cosby of her rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 385 U.S. 436 (1966), and confronted her with a statement made by Kevin, her co-defendant. In response, Cosby stated, among other things, that "[s]he brought a plastic bag to the bathroom and put the plastic bag over Bobbie King's head."

  Later, at approximately 9:00 a.m., the police once again informed Cosby of her Miranda rights and she agreed to give a memorialized statement to an Assistant State's Attorney. In this statement, which was later introduced at trial, Cosby acknowledged that she understood her rights under Miranda, had been given water, had refused any other food or drink, and had been treated well by the police and the Assistant State's Attorney. She then stated, among other things, that after Kevin showed her Bobbie's body, she went to the kitchen to get a clear plastic bag to put over Bobbie's head and then placed the bag over Bobbie's head.

  She also told the Assistant State's Attorney that she helped Kevin move Bobbie into the bathtub and cover the body with clothing, subsequently removed Bobbie from the bathtub, cut strips off a blanket to tie her up, helped Kevin tie her hands and feet together, and placed her upside-down in a cart to "get rid of the body." She concluded by stating that she and Kevin took the cart to another apartment to hide it until they could take it out of the building safely without getting caught by the police.

  C. Direct Proceedings

  At Cosby's trial before Judge Bertina Lampkin, medical testimony indicated that Bobbie had died as a result of strangulation and that blunt force trauma to the head was a major contributing factor. It also indicated that Bobbie had suffered three separate blows to the head and that she was alive when the bag was placed over her head and when her hands and feet were tied together. Cosby's 9:00 a.m. statement was also admitted against her.

  Cosby testified and attempted to put a positive slant on her relationship with Bobbie. She also stated that she was afraid of Kevin and that she thought Bobbie was dead when she helped move her body into the bathtub. In addition, she testified that Kevin placed the bag over Bobbie's head and that she had previously told the police that she did put the bag onto Bobbie because she feared Kevin.

  Cosby was found guilty of first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death. During the sentencing hearing, the State emphasized the brutality of the crime and Cosby's callous behavior. Cosby expressed remorse and the defense presented evidence showing that Cosby was involved with several community groups and had a history of abusive relationships with men, a difficult upbringing, and no prior criminal record. Judge Lampkin found that Cosby had helped Kevin brutally murder Bobbie and knew that Bobbie was alive when the bag was placed over her head. She also stated that she believed that Cosby's trial testimony was untruthful and that her statement during the sentencing hearing was insincere. Finally, she discounted the positive statements in the letters Cosby presented and found that Kevin did not force her to act as she did. She thus sentenced Cosby to forty years for murder plus three years for concealment, to be served consecutively.

  On direct appeal, Cosby presented a battered women's defense and contended that the sentencing judge had abused her discretion by imposing an excessive sentence. The appellate court rejected this argument but found that the trial court had erred by imposing a consecutive rather ...


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