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Davis v. Ryker

June 29, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Petitioner Derrold Davis' motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is before this Court.*fn1 For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

I. FACTS*fn2

The statement of facts in this case as presented in the opinion of the Illinois Appellate Court is presumed correct for the purpose of federal habeas review. 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(1); Summer v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 547, 101 S.Ct. 764, 769 (1981). A summary of the pertinent facts follow.

On July 7, 1998, at approximately 2:30a.m., Larion Jackson was fatally wounded by a gun shot to the head. At the time, he was sitting on the porch of 512 North Laramie in the city of Chicago, with five or six friends. After the shooting occurred, the police questioned Chris Jackson, the deceased's brother, who was at the scene of the shooting. Chris Jackson said that he saw two men at the gate, one with a shotgun and one with a handgun. He was able to see the face of the man with the handgun. He did not hear a car going down the street, and did not know whether Petitioner was there that night. He later identified Petitioner's twin brother, Jerrold, as the shooter.

On July 9, 1998, Detective James Gilger of the Chicago Police Department interviewed Jamal Williams. Williams is a member of the Traveling ViceLords gang, and Gilger had used Williams before for information. Williams testified that he witnessed the shooting, and saw Petitioner's twin brother, with one other person, shooting at people on the porch of 512 North Laramie. He testified that a white car then pulled up, and the two shooters got in the car. Petitioner was alleged to be driving the car. Williams identified Jerrold in a line-up, but did not identify Petitioner himself. Williams later retracted his testimony and line-up identification, claiming he did not witness the event, could not distinguish the brothers, and was coerced into signing a written statement at the police station.

In the morning of August 10, 1998, Petitioner went to the police station to complain about an unrelated shooting. Petitioner was arrested, and questioned about both the unrelated shooting and the July 7 shooting. At approximately 9:30 p.m., Detective Richard Maher and Detective Pallohusky spoke with Petitioner for about 15-20 minutes. Maher advised Petitioner of his Miranda rights before speaking with him. When first questioned about the shooting, Petitioner denied involvement, claiming that he was with his brother, Jerrold, at his uncle's home. The next day, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Petitioner confessed to participating in the shooting during an interview with Gilger. Petitioner claims that Gilger was hostile towards him, shoved and punched him in the chest several times until he agreed to cooperate.

Gilger called Assistant State's Attorney Dan Groth. After midnight on August 12, 1998, Groth spoke with Gilger, and then Petitioner. Groth advised Petitioner of his Miranda rights, and Petitioner agreed to speak with Groth. According to Groth, after their conversation, Petitioner decided he wanted to give a handwritten statement. Groth prepared the statement as Petitioner provided the information, and the two reviewed it. Petitioner, Groth and Gilger signed each page of the statement. Petitioner claims that he signed the statement because he was afraid that Gilger would continue to beat him.

In the statement, Petitioner said that on July 7, 1998, he, Jerrold Davis, Reginald Wilberton, and a fourth person nicknamed "Boss" got in a car. There were guns wrapped in blankets in the backseat. Jerrold unwrapped a .357 revolver; Wilberton unwrapped a shotgun. Petitioner said that when he saw the guns, he knew they were going to shoot at the Undertaker ViceLords gang. Petitioner drove to Laramie and stopped the car about 1 1/2 houses away from where some Undertakers were on a porch. Jerrold, Boss and Wilberton went out and fired at the people on the porch, and then ran back to the car. Petitioner then drove to an alley where they abandoned the car.

Forensic evidence and firearm comparisons showed seven cartridge casings and two fired bullets were recovered from the scene. They were all from a .45 caliber gun and were fired from the same gun. A shotgun shell was found at the scene, and shotgun wadding was found under Larion's body.

Petitioner was tried by a jury in Cook County in 2000. Petitioner was found guilty of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated discharge of a firearm. The circuit court sentenced petitioner to the Illinois Department of Corrections for concurrent terms of twenty five years, ten years, and ten years, respectively. Petitioner was incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center, and transferred to the Lawrence Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois on August 23, 2006.

Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentences to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. On November 6, 2002, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed petitioner's convictions and sentences. Petitioner then filed a petition for leave to appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court, asserting the following claims: (1) whether Petitioner's arrest was without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (2) whether there was attenuation between Petitioner's unlawful arrest and the statement of confession, (3) whether the admission of gang testimony was fundamentally unfair, denying Petitioner of due process, (4) whether a police gang officer can provide expert opinion, and (5) whether the testimony of a sole witness who is an admitted liar and criminal was sufficient to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. The petition for leave to appeal was denied on February 5, 2003.

Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas petition on January 21, 2004, asserting the following claims: (a) petitioner was arrested without probable cause, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, (b) petitioner's confession should be suppressed because it was the product of an unlawful arrest, (c) petitioner's confession should be suppressed because it was obtained in violation of Miranda, (d) petitioner's confession was involuntary as it was the product of police coercion, (e) petitioner was denied due process by the admission of gang evidence, (f) petitioner was denied due process by the admission of expert testimony concerning gang evidence when the witness was not qualified as an expert, (g) the State's evidence was insufficient to prove ...

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