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United States ex rel Williams v. Pierce

May 5, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David H. Coar United States District Judge

Honorable David H. Coar


Petitioner Lee Shawn Williams's ("Williams" or "Petitioner") petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is before this Court. For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.


On December 1, 1995, Williams held up a grocery store in Chicago, Illinois, while wearing a mask and a hooded jacket. Omar Shabana and Ismail Farraj, both workers in the store, lay down on the floor when Williams pointed a gun at them. Farraj testified that Williams hit him on the head five or six times, and Shabana at least once, with the gun. Williams ordered Shabana to open the cash register on threat of being shot. When Shabana complied, Williams said, "that's all you got?" Shabana explained that he paid a lot of bills that day. At this point, Williams was holding the gun to the victim's right temple. The victim directed Williams to a small reserve of money that he kept below the cash register. Williams said "that's all, [expletive deleted]?" Shabana replied, "that's all I got," reiterating that he had paid a lot of bills that day and did not have any more money. Williams uttered an expletive and shot Shabana in the head, killing him.

Williams was charged with first degree murder and armed robbery. Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a motion to suppress Williams's inculpatory statement, on the grounds that the police deprived him of food and water and physically abused him until he agreed to sign the statement. At the suppression hearing, Officer Regina Brown testified that on June 5, 1997, she and her partner Jackie Campbell responded to a call of a disturbance at 310 South Lockwood in Chicago. They arrived to find Williams standing outside the house, his mother yelling that she wanted him gone. When the officers asked Williams if they could take him somewhere, he suggested his grandmother's or aunt's house. After he entered the police vehicle, the officers asked him if he knew anything about Charlie Brown, who was wanted in connection with the murder at the grocery store. Williams said that Charlie Brown was his brother and that he might have information that would clear Charlie Brown's name. Upon request, Williams agreed to speak with detectives about the case at police headquarters.

On cross-examination, Officer Brown admitted that she knew that there was a stop order for a person named Lee Williams, who lived at 310 South Lockwood. However, Brown denied knowing that Williams was the person in the stop order because he introduced himself as Sean Lee Williams.

Williams testified that, on June 2, 1997, Officer Brown told him that "Marcus said you did this murder." Williams replied that he "did not kill anyone because [he] was working." A brief exchange ensued in which Williams denied culpability. The officers then took Williams against his will to the police station. He was placed in a room with a bench and handcuffs attached to the walls. He was later transferred to an interview room in another police station. Williams made the inculpatory statement days later on June 6, 1997. Williams conceded that the officers never placed him in handcuffs.

The trial court denied Williams's suppression motion, stating that it believed Officers Brown and Campbell and found Williams not credible. Williams's statement, which provided that he shot Shabana during the course of the robbery, was read into evidence before the jury.

Also at trial, Sergeant William Woitowich testified that on December 3, 1995, he was assigned to follow up on the December 1 shooting. After reviewing the files, Woitowich went to the scene of the crime and re-canvassed the area in an attempt to locate witnesses. Woitowich eventually focused his attention on an apartment complex at 308-310 South Lockwood. He conducted a computer search of the residents who had previous contact with the police. Williams's name came up. Woitowich ordered a photograph and issued a stop order for Williams. A stop order notifies the police identification department that a person is wanted for questioning, and that a specific investigative unit should be notified if the individual is placed into custody. A stop order is not an arrest warrant.

Officer Campbell testified that she knew "Charlie Brown" was "Lee Williams," but did not know that Petitioner was Charlie Brown or Lee Williams when she and Officer Brown took him to the police station on June 5, 1997. Lieutenant Tom Keough testified that when Brown and Campbell arrived at the station with Williams, the officers told Keough that Williams had information about a two-year-old robbery and murder. Keough placed Williams in an interview room and assigned Detective Dave Weigand to review the case file, which included the stop order and a picture of Williams. Upon discovering that Petitioner was named Lee Williams and was the subject of the stop order, Weigand locked the interview room door and "handcuffed [defendant] or secured him in some manner in that room." Keough testified that "the stop order was issued because . . . the case officers . . . handling the case determined that [Williams] was a suspect."

On October 7, 1999, a jury found Williams guilty on both counts. The court sentenced Williams to concurrent prison terms of 30 years for armed robbery and 100 years for first degree murder. Williams appealed, arguing that his extended-term sentence for murder was unconstitutional under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 520 U.S. 466 (2000), and that the trial court failed to provide a statutory basis for his sentence. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction but remanded for sentencing, ordering the circuit court to implement consecutive terms and describe the aggravating factors relied upon for its decision. Williams filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") in the Illinois Supreme Court, seeking a new trial or concurrent sentences. The PLA was denied on February 5, 2003. On remand, the trial court, stating its reasons, sentenced Williams to consecutive terms of 70 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and 30 years' for armed robbery. The state appellate court affirmed the sentence. Williams filed a PLA, which was denied on September 29, 2005.

On January 17, 2006, Williams filed a pro se post-conviction petition pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/122-1, asserting that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to quash his arrest and suppress his statements as fruit of an unlawful arrest, and appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issue on appeal. The Cook County Circuit Court summarily dismissed the petition on February 10, 2006. Petitioner appealed, raising the same claims. The appellate court affirmed. Williams raised the same claims in his PLA. It was denied on May 29, 2008.

On February 18, 2009, petitioner filed the instant petition for habeas corpus relief. He raises the following claims: (a) his sentence violated his constitutional rights because (i) he received an extended-term sentence; (ii) his indictment did not reference the aggravating factors relied upon to impose his extended-term sentence, and (ii) he was not given notice that the State was seeking such a sentence; (b) trial counsel was ineffective for (i) failing to object to the imposition of the extended-term sentence and (ii) failing to file a motion to quash his arrest and suppress his statement; and (c) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise trial ...

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