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Davis v. Hulick

May 13, 2008

ROBERT DAVIS, PETITIONER,
v.
DON HULICK, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert Davis has brought a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a writ of habeas corpus. Davis is incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois where Don Hulick is the warden.*fn1 For the following reasons, I deny the petition.

I.

On November 9, 2000, following a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, petitioner was convicted of six counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated battery, one count of armed violence, and one count of unlawful restraint. His motion for a new trial was denied. He was sentenced to fifty-four years' imprisonment.*fn2 His motion to reconsider the sentence was denied. Petitioner then appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois arguing that (1) the trial court erred in applying the Illinois "rape shield" statute to preclude defense counsel from cross-examining the victim about a previous sexual assault complaint; (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the trial court erred in failing to investigate sua sponte defense counsel's alleged neglect and incompetence; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify to hearsay statements made by the victim to medical personnel. On March 12, 2003, the appellate court affirmed. People v. Davis, 337 Ill. App. 3d 977, 787 N.E.2d 212 (Ill. App. Ct. 2003). Petitioner filed a petition for rehearing, which was denied on April 9, 2003. On May 14, 2003, petitioner filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal ("PLA") to the Supreme Court of Illinois, arguing that (1) he was denied the constitutional right to confront witnesses against him where the rape shield statute was incorrectly applied to preclude cross-examination of the complaining witness about a prior false rape allegation; and (2) the trial and appellate courts improperly concluded that he was guilty by failing to treat the DNA evidence against his co-defendant separately where the DNA evidence only implicated his co-defendant and also raised problems with the victim's testimony. The Supreme Court of Illinois denied the PLA on October 7, 2003. People v. Davis, 205 Ill. 2d 601, 803 N.E.2d 488 (Ill. 2003).

Petitioner filed the instant petition*fn3 on December 3, 2004, claiming that (1) the trial court erred in applying the Illinois rape shield statute to preclude defense counsel from cross-examining the victim about a previous sexual assault complaint; (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the trial court erred in failing to investigate sua sponte defense counsel's alleged neglect and incompetence; (4) the trial judge erred in allowing a witness to testify to hearsay statements made by the victim to medical personnel; and (5) appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to present all issues raised on direct appeal in the PLA.*fn4 On March 6, 2008, the case was reassigned to me.

The Appellate Court of Illinois, the last state court to issue a decision ruling on the merits of petitioner's claims,*fn5 found that

(1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow the cross-examination of the victim regarding a prior claim of sexual assault where no evidence was offered that it was made falsely and no motive was alleged for the victim to mak a false complaint against Davis; (2) the evidence was sufficient to convict Davis where the judge found the victim's testimony to be credible and there was substantial corroborating evidence, the DNA evidence was consistent with the victim's account, and there was no evidence that Davis was wrongly convicted based on evidence inculpating his co-defendant; (3) the trial court did not err in failing to inquire into defense counsel's effectiveness because the record did not show a "clear basis" for an allegation of ineffectiveness and the alleged errors, even if demonstrated, did not support an ineffective assistance claim; and (4) although certain statements were erroneously admitted, the error was harmless and the evidence at trial was strongly in favor of conviction. The appellate court reviewed witnesses' trial testimony, including the victim, Lakita H.; Regina Mathews, a registered nurse who was working in the emergency room and assessed the victim; police officers Lisa Locke and Vickie Dodd; and Charles Neal, the victim's boss at the time of the incident. The appellate court also recounted that several stipulations were entered into evidence by the state.

The appellate court's recitation of the facts sets forth that, before trial, defense counsel moved in limine for permission to cross-examine the victim about a prior complaint regarding an alleged sexual assault one month prior to the incident in this case. Defense counsel argued that the fact pattern in the prior incident was similar to the instant case and occurred exactly one month before. The police pursued the prior matter for about six months, but then closed the case because they were unable to contact the victim at her address. Defense counsel contended the prior incident was relevant because it showed a lack of credibility and a prior fabrication. The court concluded that the rape shield statute applied to preclude defense counsel from questioning the victim about the prior incident.

The victim testified that, on October 4, 1998, she went to a liquor store to buy beer around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. on her way home from work as a tow truck driver. As she was walking into the store, and again as she was leaving, a man approached her and tried to talk to her, but she ignored him. She identified this man as Davis. Later that evening, at about 8:00 p.m., the victim returned to the store to buy cigarettes. When she left, she saw Davis and his co-defendant, James Walker. They approached her and said something about going to a party with them, she ignored them, and she drove home in her tow truck. As she was locking the truck, the defendants approached her. Davis poked her side with an object she believed was a gun and said they were going to a party. Walker said "come on" and grabbed her arm. They walked through a construction site, and Davis shook a bag containing urine onto the victim.

The defendants pulled the victim's hood over her face and tied it tightly. They went into a building where the defendants pushed the victim into an elevator and they went up. The defendants shoved her into an abandoned apartment and pushed her onto a mattress in a bedroom. Throughout the night, the defendants and a third man repeatedly sexually assaulted her orally, rectally, and vaginally. They also beat her with a baseball bat and their fists, and submerged her body in scalding water. Eventually, the defendants told the victim to get dressed and they put the hood over her head again. As they were leaving, she was able to see that the apartment number on the door was "15 something."

When the victim went outside, she realized that it was the next morning. The defendants threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident. She started to walk home, but realized an unidentified man was following her. She saw her neighbor and told him to call the police. Her co-worker was sitting in his tow truck behind her tow truck, and she told him a man was following her. She got into her truck and she and her co-worker began driving around to look for the man. The victim called the police and other tow truck drivers on her truck radio. Then she spotted the defendants on 49th Street. At 51st Street, she backed into a car to get the police's attention. Several police cars and tow trucks came to the scene, and the victim was put into an ambulance. She saw the defendants through the ambulance window, and she became scared and screamed.

On cross-examination, the victim testified that the defendants offered her drugs at the apartment, which she refused. The defendants also offered her alcohol, which she drank. The victim denied using illegal drugs before the incident, but said she takes several prescription drugs. She did not remember telling detectives after the incident that she left her house for the store at 12:15 a.m. or 12:45 a.m. She was very hysterical at the hospital and did not remember what she told anyone. She remembered a condom was used at one time during the incident.

Mathews testified that the victim told her she had been raped. Mathews noticed that the victim had swelling on her face, and bruising and swelling on her shoulder, arm, hand, thigh, and hip.

Mathews testimony included statements the victim had told her about the events leading up to and during the attack. Mathews conducted a rape kit test on the victim, and a doctor performed vaginal and rectal examinations. Mathews sealed the rape kit and kept it in her presence until giving it to police. The victim told Mathews that she was not sure if the men used condoms. She also stated that she had smoked ...


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