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Morgan v. Hulick

September 23, 2009

JON ROE MORGAN, PETITIONER,
v.
DONALD HULICK, WARDEN, MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Jon Roe Morgan's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (d/e 1) (Petition) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On September 20, 1996, Morgan was convicted following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Logan County, Illinois, of the first degree murder of Lila Cearlock and the second degree murder of Keith Cearlock. Morgan was sentenced on November 26, 1996, to consecutive sentences of 58 years imprisonment on the first degree murder charge and 17 years imprisonment on the second degree murder charge. Morgan, who is currently incarcerated at the Illinois Department of Corrections' Menard Correctional Center, asks this Court to set aside his first degree murder conviction and his sentence. Respondent has filed an Answer to the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (d/e 6) (Answer), and Petitioner has filed a Reply to the State's Answer (d/e 14) (Reply). For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied.

BACKGROUND

A. STATEMENT OF FACTS

Morgan spent his childhood alternating between his mother's home and the home of his maternal grandparents, Keith and Lila Cearlock. In April 1995, Morgan was living with the Cearlocks. On the evening of April 27, 1995, Morgan and the Cearlocks began arguing about a detention Morgan had received at school. Keith Cearlock beat Morgan across the buttocks with a razor strap. The Cearlocks and Morgan continued yelling at each other, and eventually, according to Morgan, Keith Cearlock swung his fist at Morgan. Petition, p. 7. Morgan jumped out of the way and ran into the bathroom. Morgan then went to Keith Cearlock's closet and retrieved a gun and ammunition. Morgan returned to the bathroom with thoughts of suicide, but instead shot a Tilex bottle that was sitting on the bathtub. Morgan emerged from the bathroom moments later to see Lila screaming and an angry Keith Cearlock rounding the corner of the hallway. Morgan shot Keith. According to Morgan, he did so because he was afraid that Keith would kill him.

At this point, Lila Cearlock turned and attempted to run out of the house into the front yard. As she was doing so, Morgan shot her in the back. Lila made it out the front door, but collapsed on the lawn. According to witnesses, Morgan followed Lila and tried to shoot her again as she was lying on the ground, but the gun jammed. Morgan then went back inside the house. He broke a lock on the door to Lila's room and attempted to find her gun, but he was unable to do so. Morgan then changed his clothes and left the house, still carrying Keith's gun and a box of bullets. Morgan walked to a friend's house.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., police officers responded to a report of shots fired at Seventh and Washington Streets in Lincoln, Illinois. When he arrived at the scene, Officer Tim Kerns observed an elderly woman, later identified as Lila Cearlock, lying face down in the front yard of 1206 Seventh Street, with a gunshot wound in her back. Kerns then observed an elderly man, later identified as Keith Cearlock, lying on his back inside the house at 1206 Seventh Street, with a gunshot wound to his temple. Officers secured the crime scene by placing tape around the perimeter of the house.

After the perimeter had been secured, Deputy Sheriff Bob Spickard saw a young man, later identified as Petitioner Morgan, walk across the grass and through the crime scene tape. According to Morgan, when he reached his friend's house, he learned that the friend was not home, so Morgan decided to return to the Cearlock's house. As Morgan approached, Spickard ordered Morgan to stop, but Morgan continued on. Morgan walked up to Spickard, handed him a gun and a box of bullets, and said, "I did it. I killed them." Spickard then took Morgan to the front of the house, where other officers, including Detective Michael Harberts, were standing. Spickard informed Harberts that Morgan had turned over the gun and ammunition and had admitted to killing the Cearlocks.

Harberts then asked Morgan why he shot the Cearlocks. Morgan replied,"Because they pissed me off. I couldn't take it anymore so I shot them." Petition, p. 8. Harberts instructed Officer Kerns to arrest Morgan. Morgan was subsequently handcuffed and placed in a squad car. He was removed from the squad car two separate times before it left the scene to allow witnesses to identify him. Eventually, Morgan was transported to the Logan County jail, where officials learned that Morgan was fourteen years old. Morgan was locked in a cell where he remained until approximately 9:00 p.m.

Harberts advised Morgan of his Miranda rights and interviewed him from 9:05 p.m. until 9:37 p.m. Harberts attempted to tape record the interview, but later discovered that the tape had not recorded. Harberts then interviewed Morgan a second time from 11:07 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. after providing a second round of Miranda warnings. During the interviews, Morgan told Harberts that the Cearlocks were his grandparents and his legal guardians. Morgan also repeated and expanded upon the statements that he made to police at the scene of the murders.

B. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Morgan was originally charged in juvenile court. The State filed a petition to have Morgan tried as an adult pursuant to 705 ILCS 405/5-4 (1995), which the juvenile court allowed after a three-day hearing. Morgan was indicted on eight counts of first degree murder as follows: Count I -- first degree murder of Lila Cearlock with intent to kill or do great bodily harm; Count II -- first degree murder of Keith Cearlock with intent to kill or do great bodily harm; Count III -- first degree murder of Lila Cearlock by knowingly committing an act causing great probability of death or great bodily harm; Count IV -- first degree murder of Keith Cearlock by knowingly committing an act causing great probability of death or great bodily harm; Count V -- first degree murder of Lila Cearlock by attempting or committing a forcible felony, namely aggravated battery; Count VI -- first degree murder of Keith Cearlock by attempting or committing a forcible felony, namely aggravated battery; Count VII -- first degree murder of Lila Cearlock by attempting or committing a forcible felony, namely aggravated discharge of a firearm; and Count VIII -- first degree murder of Keith Cearlock by attempting or committing a forcible felony, namely aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Defense counsel filed a motion to suppress the statements Morgan made to police at the crime scene and while in custody. The motion was denied following a hearing, and the matter proceeded to trial. Morgan was convicted following a jury trial of the first degree murder of Lila Cearlock and the second degree murder of Keith Cearlock. Answer, Ex. A, Judgment, dated September 20, 1996. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment totaling seventy-five years.

Morgan appealed his convictions, arguing that:

1. The Trial Court Erred in Allowing the State's Motion to Transfer Morgan from juvenile court and try him as an adult;

2. The trial court erred in admitting Morgan's initial statements to police because they were made during a custodial interrogation without the benefit of Miranda warnings;

3. Morgan's custodial statements were involuntary due to the coercive nature of the circumstances surrounding the interrogations;

4. Morgan did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights;

5. The trial court erred in excluding testimony of Morgan's mother Glenda Ashworth and Dr. Stuart Hart regarding prior ...


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