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Brown v. Bartley

March 11, 2010

KENNETH BROWN, BROWN,
v.
KEN BARTLEY, WARDEN, PINCKNEYVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court is Kenneth Brown's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

I. First State Court Proceeding

Brown was tried in the Circuit Court of Cook County on six separate indictments arising from a series of attacks on women in the North Side of Chicago. The cases were consolidated and tried simultaneously before a single jury. Brown was initially charged with an attack on a seventh woman, but the charges were dropped after testing revealed that DNA evidence recovered from the victim did not match Brown's DNA profile.

On September 16, 1998, the jury convicted Brown of kidnapping and unlawful restraint under one indictment, attempted criminal sexual assault under another, and unlawful restraint under a third. The jury found Brown not guilty of the remaining charges. The trial court sentenced Brown to consecutive terms of seven years for kidnapping, three years for each unlawful restraint conviction, and seven years for the attempted criminal sexual assault conviction.

On appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court, Brown presented the following issues: (1) the trial court erred in ruling that evidence of his other indictments would be admissible to show modus operandi; (2) the trial court erred in excluding evidence that a look-alike perpetrator was attacking women in the same neighborhood at the same time as the attacks for which Brown was charged; (3) the trial court should have merged the kidnapping and unlawful restraint convictions; and (4) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences on the two counts.

The state conceded that Brown was improperly sentenced for both kidnapping and unlawful restraint. On May 31, 2000, the appellate court vacated the unlawful restraint conviction and reduced Brown's overall sentence from 20 years to 17 years. It affirmed the remainder of Brown's convictions and sentences. On the DNA issue, the court held that it was error for the trial court to bar the introduction of the evidence, but found the error to be harmless in light of the strong evidence against Brown.

Brown filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") to the Illinois Supreme Court on August 21, 2000. In his PLA, Brown presented a number of novel claims, alleging that he had been denied due process and equal protection of the law; that he had not received a fair and impartial trial; and that the judge, prosecuting attorneys, and defense counsel engaged in various forms of misconduct. The state supreme court denied Brown's PLA on October 4, 2000.

On February 16, 2001, Brown filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. He argued that the trial court violated the principles of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), when it applied consecutive sentences and prohibited Brown from presenting DNA evidence at trial. The trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss on June 19, 2003.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal on May 23, 2005. In his pro se PLA, Brown again alleged novel claims. In addition to allegations that the trial court had erred in barring the DNA evidence, Brown argued that he was denied due process of the law, equal protection of the law, and a fair and impartial trial; that the State failed to prove every allegation of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt; and that the prosecuting attorney made prejudicial, inflammatory, and erroneous statements during closing argument. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Brown's PLA on May 24, 2006.

II. Second State Court Proceeding

On June 23, 1999, following a bench trial before a different judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Brown was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, attempted criminal sexual assault, unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery for an attack on a woman in a suburb of Chicago. At sentencing, the trial court merged the counts and sentenced Brown to 30 years' imprisonment, which was to run consecutively to Brown's existing 17 year sentence.

Brown appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, presenting the following issues on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior statements of identification; (2) Brown was denied effective assistance of counsel; (3) the trial court erroneously found defendant had two conflicting intents; (4) the court erred in permitting certain photographs into evidence. The appellate court affirmed Brown's conviction and sentence on March 11, 2002. Brown challenged the appellate court's holding on the issue of his intent in his PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court. The supreme court denied Brown's PLA on May 30, 2002.

III. Federal Habeas Petition

On June 15, 2006, Brown filed the instant petition for federal habeas corpus relief. The grounds upon which Brown requests relief are not entirely clear, but it ...


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