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United States ex rel Young v. McCann

October 5, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge


Pro se Petitioner James Young filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court denies Young's habeas petition. The Court also denies Young's renewed motion to stay his habeas petition.


Young does not present clear and convincing evidence challenging the statement of facts as set forth in the Illinois Appellate Court's opinion affirming the judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and thus the Court presumes those facts are correct for purposes of its habeas review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Daniels v. Knight, 476 F.3d 426, 434 (7th Cir. 2007). The Court, therefore, adopts the underlying facts as set forth by the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, in Young's direct appeal. See People v. Young, 263 Ill.App.3d 627, 200 Ill.Dec. 134, 635 N.E.2d 473 (1994). The Court begins with a brief recounting of the facts as determined by the Illinois Appellate Court. Easley v. Frey, 433 F.3d 969, 970 (7th Cir. 2006).

I. Factual Background

Evidence at trial established that a group of men, including Petitioner James Young, were involved in gang-related shootings of two men near the Stateway Gardens housing complex in Chicago, Illinois ("Stateway"), specifically, at the 3517-3519 South Federal Street building on the night of November 9, 1989.

A. Denise Brady's Testimony

At trial, a resident at Stateway, Denise Brady, testified that about 10 p.m. on November 9, 1989, she noticed two men in dark clothing and ski masks standing near an elevator in the building's open first-floor lobby. Brady went to the ground floor lobby where she saw a man she later identified as Kevin Young. Brady testified that Kevin Young was wearing dark clothes and a baseball cap. Also, Brady testified that Kevin Young yelled "come here" and then "come here, motherfucker," in the direction of one of the victims, Dan Williams, who was approaching the building from the street. Kevin Young then retrieved a gun from his coat and repeatedly fired at Williams, who began "running and weaving" towards an Illinois Institute of Technology ("IIT") research building across the street. Brady testified that Williams stumbled onto the ground and then she fled upstairs to her apartment. Further, Brady testified that when she reached the first-floor she saw two men in ski masks also shooting at Williams. When she looked down, Brady noticed two additional shooters on either side of the building.

B. Ruth Wilson's Testimony

Another Stateway resident, Ruth Wilson, who lived in an adjacent building, testified that she was in her bedroom when she heard shots coming from the 3517-19 building. She further testified that when she looked out her window, she saw at least five men walking away from the 3517-19 building and toward her building. The men were wearing dark clothing and hats or hoods. Ruth Wilson recognized two of them as Kevin Young and Thomas Carter, and saw Kevin Young put a gun under his coat. She further testified that she watched the men until they were out of sight. She then went to look for her son, Deanda Wilson, who was outside.

C. Deanda Wilson's Testimony

At trial, Deanda Wilson ("Wilson") identified all of the co-defendants as members of a particular street gang. He further testified that at the time of the 1989 shooting he was 12-years-old and that he was a member of an enemy gang. At about 10 p.m. on the night of the shooting incident, Wilson was on the first floor on the 3519 side of the building. He testified that he heard people call out "here comes [Kevin Young]", and when Wilson ran to the first-floor porch, he saw the co-defendants approaching the building dressed in black clothing. Wilson testified that Kevin Young wore a baseball cap and the other co-defendants wore knit caps pulled down just above their eyes. Further, Wilson indicated that at that point, the co-defendants' faces were uncovered, and he could see them in the light.

Moreover, Wilson testified that co-defendants James Bannister and Eric Smith arrived at the building first and waited near a janitor's closet under the 3519 side of the building. Wilson then ran to the second-floor porch and saw Michael Meyers, Kevin Young, and Thomas Carter standing below him in front of the building. Wilson also testified that he saw Petitioner James Young and Michael Johnson on the first-floor porch of the 3517 side of the building.

Wilson testified that the victim, Dan Williams, was standing near the play lot in front of the building when someone yelled "come here, motherfucker." Williams responded, "I ain't have nothing to do with it," after which Meyers, Carter, and Kevin Young stepped out from the building, retrieved guns from their coats, and fired at Williams. Further, Wilson stated that Bannister and Smith similarly stepped out from their positions and began firing, as did Petitioner James Young and Johnson. The shooting continued for about 15 seconds and Williams stumbled through the play lot towards the IIT building. Wilson further testified that Williams eventually fell between the revolving doors of the IIT building, and the co-defendants fled with their guns in their hands.

On cross-examination, Wilson admitted that he had told police after the shooting that James Young and the others had pulled their caps completely over their faces. Also, Wilson had testified before the grand jury that as he stood on the second floor porch, he knew that Bannister, James Young, and others were standing on the porch "under the building." When asked if he could actually see them, he responded that he could not, but knew they were there "because they wasn't outside the building with the rest." D. IIT Security Testimony

Security personnel in the lobby of the IIT research building testified that a group of men chased Dan Williams towards the IIT building. The testimony also revealed that while these men directed multiple shots at Williams, a bullet struck and killed Thomas Kaufman, a security guard stationed inside IIT's front doors.

E. A.W.'s Testimony

The State's theory at trial was that the co-defendants killed Dan Williams in a case of mistaken identity to avenge the sexual assault of Kevin Young's girlfriend, A.W. At trial, A.W. testified that two days prior to the shooting, rival gang members harassed, kicked, and threw objects at her. She further testified that the rival gang members took her to an apartment and sexually assaulted her. After the police arrived, the rival gang members fled the building. A.W. also testified that during the assault, "Williams" repeatedly demanded to know where Kevin Young was and threatened A.W. with a gun. Furthermore, A.W. testified that a few hours prior to the shooting, a meeting was arranged between she and Kevin Young at the apartment of Lisa Tolbert, a friend in Stateway. At Young's request, A.W. identified the participants in the sexual assault. Kevin Young and Carter subsequently left the apartment, returning later with Johnson, Meyers, and James Young. According to A.W., the five men left the apartment at approximately 10 p.m. on November 9, 1989. A.W. further testified that each man was dressed in black and carrying a gun. Further, A.W. stated that when the men returned approximately 20 minutes later, they were wearing ski masks or stocking caps over their faces. A.W. also testified that Kevin Young took the guns the men were carrying and placed them in a radiator. The testimony of two police officers established that James Young and Carter were arrested at Lisa Tolbert's apartment the day after the shooting.

II. Procedural Background

A jury convicted Petitioner James Young and co-defendants Michael Meyers, James Bannister, Michael Johnson, Kevin Young, and Thomas Carter of two counts of first-degree murder in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and the trial court sentenced them to life imprisonment. (Ex. A, People v. Young, 263 Ill.App.3d 627, 200 Ill.Dec. 134, 635 N.E.2d 473 (1994)). James Young and his co-defendants appealed, raising the following issues: (1) the State violated discovery rules by failing to disclose A.W.'s pre-trial statements; (2) James Young and Bannister were not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because their convictions were based largely on the testimony of Deanda Wilson, an admitted rival gang member whose grand jury testimony indicated he could not see defendants at the time of the shooting; (3) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of gang affiliation; (4) the doctrine of transferred intent did not apply where both the intended victim and an unintended victim were killed; (5) the police obtained Johnson's confession in violation of his constitutional right to counsel; and (6) trial counsel was ineffective in offering the prior testimony and statements of A.W. and Wilson merely for impeachment, rather than as substantive evidence. (Ex. A.) The Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed James Young's conviction and sentence on March 31, 1994. (Ex. A.)

James Young then filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") to the Supreme Court of Illinois arguing that the prosecutors violated the rules of discovery and the guarantee of due process by failing to disclose before trial that: (1) A.W. repudiated her prior statements; (2) Detective Winstead made assurances to A.W. that she would not be prosecuted for perjury; and (3) the co-defendants made oral statements to A.W. (Ex. C.) On October 6, 1994, the Supreme Court of Illinois denied Young's PLA. (Ex. D.)

On August 3, 1995, James Young filed a post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/122-1, et seq. (Ex. E.) In his post-conviction petition, Young argued that: (1) perjured testimony was given before the grand jury; (2) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and (3) his appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective. (Ex. E.) On July 7, 1998, Young filed a supplemental post-conviction petition arguing that an evidentiary hearing was necessary because: (1) Deanda Wilson's trial testimony was incredible and contradicted the State's only neutral and credible occurrence witness, and made Wilson's recantation consistent with other trial testimony and therefore more reliable; (2) trial counsel failed to impeach Deanda Wilson, the States's only occurrence witness, on how long Wilson knew Young prior to the shooting, and whether Willie Sims was with Wilson during the shooting; (3) trial counsel failed to offer as substantive evidence A.W.'s prior inconsistent statements; (4) ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to impeach A.W. about the facts surrounding her alleged sexual assault and the motive the State presented for the shooting; and (5) the cumulative effect of "the many trial errors," coupled with ...

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