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United States of America Ex Rel. v. Marcus Hardy

January 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:


In 2002, following a bench trial, an Illinois judge found Isaiah Brady guilty of first degree murder. The judge later sentenced Brady to a fifty year prison term.

Brady exhausted his state court remedies and has now petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, Brady argues that insufficient evidence existed to support his conviction; he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and the introduction of improper evidence of other crimes violated his due process rights. For the reasons stated below, the Court orders an evidentiary hearing to permit further development of the factual basis for Brady's ineffective assistance claim but otherwise denies Brady's petition.


Andrea McDaniel was Brady's girlfriend and the mother of his child. In the early morning hours of May 10, 2001, McDaniel was brought to the emergency room at Provident Hospital on the south side of Chicago. She was unconscious and had sustained a single gunshot wound to the head. After receiving treatment, McDaniel was transferred to Cook County Hospital, where she died on May 12, 2001. The medical examiner ruled McDaniel's death a homicide, and Brady became a suspect in the ensuing investigation by the Chicago Police Department. On June 6, 2001, Brady was arrested in Los Angeles, California. He was extradited to Illinois and charged with first degree murder.

1. State court trial

Brady's bench trial began on November 12, 2002. He was represented by Lawrence Vance. Brady waived his right to a jury trial prior to opening statements.

The prosecution's first witness was Nancy Jones, an assistant medical examiner who had performed an autopsy on McDaniel's body. She testified as an expert in the field of forensic pathology. Jones testified that McDaniel died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the right temporal/parietal region of her skull. Because there was no evidence of close-range firing, Jones concluded that the shot was fired from at least two feet away.

Cassandra McDaniel, Andrea McDaniel's mother, testified that until she died, McDaniel lived with Brady and the couple's eighteen-month-old daughter at 5608 South Wabash Avenue, apartment 303. She also stated that the last time she saw McDaniel was two weeks prior to her death.

Gail Gray, an emergency room nurse at Provident Hospital, testified that she was on duty when McDaniel arrived at the hospital at approximately 1:35 a.m. on May 10, 2001. Gray said a security guard informed her that someone was outside who seemed to have been shot. She went outside and saw McDaniel lying in the back seat of a car with blood on her head. Brady was with McDaniel and identified himself as her boyfriend. Gray and other hospital personnel put McDaniel in a wheelchair and took her to a resuscitation room. Gray then went to speak with Brady, who provided some information about McDaniel's medical history. After speaking with Brady, Gray returned to the resuscitation room. Ten to fifteen minutes later, a police officer came to the resuscitation room looking for Brady, but Gray was unable to find him.

Corey Hall testified that he and his sister, Beverly Green, were close friends of McDaniel. At the time of McDaniel's death, Hall lived in an apartment across the courtyard from the apartment McDaniel and Brady shared. On the evening of May 9, 2001, Hall was sitting with several friends, including Brady and McDaniel, on his back porch. At one point while Brady was present but before McDaniel had arrived, a silver .38 caliber pistol fell out of Brady's pants and onto the porch. According to Hall, Brady said nothing and immediately put the pistol back into his pants. Hall said he later told someone about the incident but admitted he did not mention it during his first conversation with an investigator from the State's Attorney's office.

Hall also testified that Brady told McDaniel to go home at approximately 11:00 p.m., which she did. Brady left approximately thirty to forty minutes later. McDaniel briefly returned to Hall's apartment later to borrow taco seasoning, and sometime thereafter Hall went to McDaniel's apartment to eat tacos. As he left McDaniel's apartment at approximately 12:10 or 12:15 a.m., Hall saw Brady returning to the apartment. Then, approximately an hour and ten minutes later, Hall was walking to a nearby store and saw Brady walking down an alley towards Brady's apartment. Hall shook hands with Brady, and the two spoke briefly. Hall said that Brady seemed nervous. Brady told Hall he wanted to go to the store and asked Hall to wait for him. Brady then went up to his apartment. Hall waited for approximately three to five minutes, but Brady never came down, so Hall went to the store without him. Hall also testified that Brady and McDaniel did not have a phone in their apartment, and the nearest payphone was approximately one block away.

Antoinette Dill testified that she lived in an apartment one floor down and across from the apartment Brady and McDaniel shared. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on May 10, 2001, Dill awoke to the sound of Brady and another man speaking near her window. The unidentified man said, "She's dead," and Brady said, "She's not dead yet, help me carry her." Dill then heard a woman screaming for someone to call an ambulance and saying "don't move her." Dill left her apartment and looked outside through her back door. She saw Brady and a woman near a black car. When she went outside to help, she saw Brady and another man putting McDaniel into the back seat of the black car and a woman sitting on the driver's side. The woman asked Dill to call 911, but Brady replied, "No, mama, we can't wait for an ambulance. You need to get her to [the] hospital." Dill then returned to her apartment and called 911. When she came back downstairs, the black car was no longer in the parking lot.

Wanda Riley, Brady's grandmother, testified that she lived just around the corner from Provident Hospital. Some time after 1:30 a.m. on May 10, 2001, Brady came to Riley's apartment and asked to borrow her car. Brady said that he needed the car because McDaniel had been shot and he needed to pick up his daughter. Riley refused because she needed her car to go to work that day. Brady then took some clothes that belonged to Riley's son, grabbed Riley's car keys, and left the apartment. Riley went after Brady and stopped him as he tried to start the car. Brady got out of the car, and Riley took the car keys out of his hands. Brady then ran into Washington Park in the direction of his apartment, leaving the clothes behind. About five minutes later, Brady's mother and her husband arrived at Riley's home with Brady's infant daughter.

Officer Joseph Dunigan testified that he and a partner, Leonard Stoker, investigated McDaniel's shooting. They first went to Cook County Hospital to determine McDaniel's condition and were told that she was in the emergency room. The officers then went to McDaniel's apartment, where they spoke with other officers and photographed the scene. Dunigan observed blood on the rear stairs of the apartment building and in the kitchen, as well as bloody towels and clothing on the kitchen floor. The master bedroom was in a state of disarray. There were markings on the bedroom door and damage to the door near the handle. Clothes and the mattress were strewn about, and a television set was on the floor. Dunigan saw blood on the wall in the bedroom and on the mattress. He also found two live .38 caliber bullets in the bedroom. Finally, Dunigan examined a black Pontiac parked nearby. He found blood on the right front passenger seat back and headrest, on the rear passenger side door, and on the driver's seat. Dunigan took samples of the various blood stains.

Officer Miguel Cavrales testified that on February 22, 2000, about fifteen months before McDaniel's death, he and a partner responded to a domestic disturbance call at 5608 South Wabash. Cavrales spoke with McDaniel upon arriving and observed that she had puffy eyes, a swollen eyelid, and a bump on her right cheek. McDaniel said she had been struck several times. After speaking with McDaniel, Cavrales began trying to find Brady, who was not in the apartment at the time. Cavrales also testified that the next day, February 23, he responded to another domestic disturbance call from the apartment at 10:15 p.m. On that occasion, McDaniel was agitated and jumpy when Cavrales spoke with her. Afterwards, Cavrales again went looking for Brady.

Officer James Davis testified that he and another officer responded to a third domestic disturbance call from 5608 South Wabash on June 15, 2000, about eleven months before McDaniel's death. When he arrived, Davis heard a woman inside the apartment scream "help me, help me" through the door. When Davis knocked on the door and identified himself, a man inside said that no one had called the police. Davis heard the woman scream again, and the officers forced their way into the apartment. Upon entering, Davis saw McDaniel crying and with bruises on the right side of her face and her right arm. She told Davis that Brady had struck her on the face and arm with a broomstick. The officers placed Brady under arrest. After being informed of his rights, Brady told the officers he hit McDaniel because she stayed out at night and did not take care of their children. After arresting Brady, the officers recovered a .38 caliber revolver from the bedroom of the apartment.

Detective Edward Adams testified that he handled Brady's extradition from California. Adams arrived in Los Angeles on June 21, 2001 and spoke with Brady at the Los Angeles County Jail. There, Brady identified himself to Adams as "Rico Holt."

Detective Michael Rose was the last witness for the prosecution. He testified that he investigated the apartment shared by Brady and McDaniel on May 10, 2001. Rose observed blood on the back stairs leading to the apartment, as well as significant amounts of blood in the kitchen, the hallway, and a bedroom. He also saw a crack in the bedroom door on both sides of the doorknob. According to Rose, the bedroom was in a state of disorder: there were clothes on the floor, and the mattress and box spring were turned over. Rose later went to the home of Wanda Riley, Brady's grandmother, who told Rose that Brady came to her home after 1:30 a.m. and took clothing and the keys to Riley's car. Riley told Rose that she caught up to Brady, struggled with him to get her keys back, and heard Brady say McDaniel was dead.

After the prosecution completed its case-in-chief, Brady's trial counsel indicated that he would not call any witnesses. However, after speaking with Brady, counsel decided to call two witnesses. The first was Jeremy Washington, who testified that he is Brady's uncle. But after the prosecution indicated that Brady's trial counsel had failed to disclose Washington as a witness during discovery, defense counsel ended his examination of Washington.

The second defense witness was Claude Sanders, who testified that he is Brady's grandfather. Sanders said that on May 10, 2001, he told Brady to leave town and lie low because he had heard Brady's life was in danger. Sanders told Brady he should turn himself in once Brady's family raised enough money to hire an attorney. After Sanders testified, the defense rested. Following closing arguments, the court called a recess for the afternoon.

The next day, November 14, 2002, the court found Brady guilty of first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The court stated that it found Makeeta Burke's testimony credible and persuasive because she recounted details of the crime that could have been known only by Brady. The court also noted that Corey Hall's testimony was credible and corroborative of the fact that Brady was the shooter.

The court then proceeded to discuss its conclusion that the shooting was not accidental. The court relied on what it considered to be overwhelming circumstantial evidence of an intentional shooting. First, the court noted the absence of any reliable evidence indicating an accidental shooting. Though the court felt that Burke genuinely believed Brady's claim that the shooting was accidental, it found Brady's claim to be a fabrication he made to avoid alienating Burke. The court then stated that Brady's behavior following the shooting-including his failure to call an ambulance, seek help from neighbors, or act immediately rather than wait for his mother to arrive-suggested the shooting was not accidental.

The court also found Brady's attempt to obtain clothes and a car from his grandmother to be indicative of his intent to flee. The court felt Brady's alternative explanation-that he was trying to find his infant daughter-was implausible, because Brady could have gone with his mother from the hospital directly to his apartment rather than running alone to his grandmother's home first. Moreover, Brady never returned to the hospital to check on McDaniel, nor did he turn himself in to the authorities or a trusted community figure. Instead, he sought legal advice from his grandfather and left town. In sum, the court concluded that Brady's actions were those of a person guilty of murder, not someone who accidentally injured a person he loved.

After trial, Brady fired his attorney and hired new counsel. He also filed a motion for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The motion was based solely on the allegation that Brady's trial counsel was under the influence of alcohol at various points during the trial. The court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on May 9 and May 29, 2003. Several witnesses testified, including family members of Brady who had interacted with his trial counsel and attended the trial, Brady's trial counsel, and one of the trial prosecutors. On June 12, 2003, the court denied the motion. It concluded that no credible ...

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