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United States ex rel Simms v. Wright

July 13, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. DARRYL SIMMS, PETITIONER,
v.
STEPHEN B. WRIGHT, WARDEN, HILL CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioner Darryl Simms has brought a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking to overturn his state conviction for murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, home invasion, and residential burglary. Respondent Stephen B. Wright, Warden of Hill Correctional Center, has filed a motion to dismiss the petition as untimely. For the reasons set forth below, respondent's motion is granted.

FACTS

On October 28, 1985, following a bench trial in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, petitioner was convicted of murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, home invasion, and residential burglary.*fn1 The State sought to impose the death penalty, and petitioner waived his right to be sentenced by a jury. The trial court found petitioner eligible for the death penalty because he was more than eighteen years old at the time of the offense and had multiple felony-murder convictions. After the trial court determined that there were no mitigating factors present sufficient to prevent the imposition of the death penalty, it sentenced petitioner to death.

Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to the Illinois Supreme Court. On January 25, 1988, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed his convictions but reversed his death sentence, finding that the State's introduction of victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing was in error pursuant to Booth v. Maryland, 482 U.S. 496 (1987) (overruled by Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991)), and it remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. On April 5, 1988, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the State's petition for rehearing.

On remand, a jury found petitioner eligible for the death penalty because he was over the age of eighteen at the time of the offense and committed the murder in the course of another felony. The jury also determined that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude sentencing petitioner to death and imposed the death penalty.

Petitioner again appealed his sentence to the Illinois Supreme Court. On April 18, 1991, the Illinois Supreme Court again reversed his sentence, finding that the sentencing jury had been improperly instructed that petitioner was eligible for the death penalty if the State established beyond a reasonable doubt that petitioner committed the murder during a residential burglary.

The instruction was erroneous because residential burglary is not a felony that renders a defendant eligible for the death penalty. The Illinois Supreme Court again remanded the case for resentencing and denied a petition for rehearing on June 3, 1991.

At petitioner's third sentencing hearing, a jury again found petitioner eligible for the death penalty. After hearing evidence in aggravation and mitigation, the jury imposed the death penalty. Once again, petitioner appealed the sentence to the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed the death sentence on November 22, 1995. Petitioner petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court denied the petition on June 24, 1996.

On November 14, 1995 (eight days before the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's death sentence), petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of DuPage County. On May 21, 1997, petitioner, assisted by counsel, filed an amended petition for post-conviction and post-judgment relief. On August 12, 1998, the trial court dismissed petitioner's post-conviction petition, which included three claims that the State knowingly introduced perjured testimony during petitioner's third sentencing hearing.

Petitioner appealed the trial court's ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. On August 10, 2000, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the trial court on petitioner's three perjury claims and remanded the case with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing on those claims. The Court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of petitioner's other claims.

On January 10, 2003, former Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted petitioner's death sentence to a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

On June 22, 2004, petitioner withdrew his three perjury claims. In his withdrawal notice, petitioner indicated his awareness that the trial court would no longer hold the evidentiary hearing on those claims ordered by the Illinois Supreme Court. Petitioner stated that he was "withdrawing these claims freely and voluntarily, and after having consulted with post-conviction counsel." On July 7, 2004, the trial court entered an order stating that petitioner's three remaining claims were withdrawn and that no other claims remained pending in the court.

On July 1, 2005, petitioner filed*fn2 a complaint for state habeas corpus relief in the Circuit Court of Randolph County. On September 1, 2005, the trial court dismissed petitioner's complaint. Petitioner appealed the judgment to the Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District, which affirmed the trial court's judgment on June 5, 2006. On July 20, 2006, petitioner filed a petition for leave ...


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