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United States Ex Rel. v. Joseph Yurkovich

November 14, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


Before the Court is Petitioner William Ward's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). For the following reasons, the Court denies Ward's habeas petition and declines to certify any issues for appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).


Ward does not present clear and convincing evidence challenging the statement of facts in the last state court decision to address his arguments on the merits, which is the Illinois Appellate Court's opinion on direct appeal, and thus the Court presumes those facts are correct for purposes of its habeas review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); McCarthy v. Pollard, 656 F.3d 478, 483 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court therefore adopts the underlying facts as set forth by the Illinois Appellate Court in People v. Ward, 371 Ill.App.3d 382, 308 Ill.Dec. 899, 862 N.E.2d 1102 (1st Dist. 2007).

I. Factual Background

On December 29, 2000, a grand jury indicted Ward for six counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, six counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. These charges stemmed from a drive-by shooting of two people in Harvey, Illinois on September 24, 2000.

At Ward's criminal trial, Harvey police officer Montague Hall testified that on September 24, 2000, around 7:25 p.m., he responded to a call of shots fired in an alley near 150th and Honore. Officer Hall recovered two .9-millimeter bullet casings at that location. He then spoke with a man on the ground who had been shot in his leg. In addition, Officer Hall testified that he spoke with two other individuals, James Tolbert and Terrence Coprich, who provided him with descriptions of the potential offenders.

Harvey Police Detective Samuel White also testified at Ward's criminal trial and explained that he investigated the September 24, 2000 shooting at the alley around 150th and Honore. In the course of his investigation, Detective White interviewed Tyrone Moten on October 29, 2000. After speaking with Moten, White began to look for Ward. Detective White further testified that on November 17, 2000, he went to Ward's residence and knocked on the door, but no one answered. As he was leaving, he saw Ward drive toward the residence. Detective White and Ward made eye contact and then Ward drove off. Thereafter, Detective White chased Ward in his car to 164th Street and Halsted in Harvey, where Ward exited his car. When Detective White tried to take Ward into custody, Ward punched Detective White.

Detective White, nevertheless, was able to get Ward to the ground after which he handcuffed Ward. Detective White further testified that other Harvey police officers took Ward to the police station while he returned to Ward's residence.

In addition, Detective White testified that upon his return to Ward's residence, he and Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") parole agent, Agent Spiro Giorgakis, entered the residence together. Detective White observed Agent Giorgakis search the bedroom from which Agent Giorgakis recovered a safe and ammunition. Detective White and Agent Giorgakis then returned to the Harvey police station, where they opened the safe and discovered a loaded gun and ammunition. When Detective White questioned Ward the following day, Ward stated that he had stolen the gun from his girlfriend, Marshawn Shelby, who lived with him at the residence. Detective White then sent the gun and ammunition to the Illinois State Police crime lab.

Meanwhile, on November 19, 2000, Detective White met with one of the shooting victims, Michael Walker, at Christ Hospital. At that time, Detective White was accompanied by a felony review Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. Detective White presented Walker with a photo array of six men, including Ward and five others. Walker, however, was unable to identify Ward as the person who shot him.

IDOC Agent Giorgakis also testified at Ward's criminal trial. Specifically, Agent Giorgakis testified -- consistent with his suppression hearing testimony -- that he was at Ward's residence with Detective White on November 17, 2000. Agent Giorgakis corroborated Detective White's account of Ward pulling up to his residence, seeing the officers, and then driving away. Furthermore, Agent Giorgakis confirmed that Ward punched Detective White after stopping and exiting his car at 163rd Street and Halsted in Harvey. Agent Giorgakis described how he returned to search Ward's residence explaining that he searched the bedroom and recovered ammunition and a lockbox from under a bed. Agent Giorgakis then testified that he took the lockbox to the Harvey police station, opened it, and recovered a .9-millimeter handgun and four fully loaded clips. He further testified that he turned these items over to Detective White.

At trial, Terrence Coprich testified about the shooting itself. In particular, Coprich stated that on September 24, 2000, he was in the backyard of James and Michael Tolbert's house at 150th and Honore and that Michael Tolbert was working on Walker's car. After Moten came by, Coprich, Moten, and other individuals got into a car and drove to 158th and Vine to look into a fight involving Moten that had occurred earlier. Coprich then testified that he observed Moten, a woman named Sakina, and Ward get into a fistfight. Ward then ran to the back of the house at 158th and Vine. While the others got back into the car, Moten remained outside, picked up a brick, and smashed the windows of Ward's truck. At that time, Coprich grabbed Moten, yelled at him, and pulled him into the car. They then returned to the Tolbert's residence at 150th and Honore.

After returning to 150th and Honore, Coprich testified that he and three others individuals decided to get some beer. As they went back to Coprich's car, they noticed a gray station wagon drive by. Coprich testified that he recognized Ward as the front passenger in the station wagon. Coprich and the others then got in his car and followed the station wagon. Furthermore, Coprich testified that he thought the people in the station wagon would know where his friends were, so he turned into the alley adjacent to the Tolbert residence to try to warn his friends. As Coprich approached the alley, the station wagon entered the alley from another direction. Coprich testified that he saw Ward and another man in the station wagon. Coprich described Ward as having "his head straight." Coprich then saw "a gun come up," "fire," and heard "popping." According to Coprich, Ward shot across the driver's seat of the station wagon after which Coprich fled the scene. Coprich, however, testified that he returned to check on his friends at which time he found that Walker was on his way to a hospital and that J.C. Johnson was lying on the ground after being shot in the leg and hip. On November 19, 2000, Coprich viewed a lineup at the Harvey police station. At that time, Coprich picked out Ward as the person who fired the gun.

On cross-examination, Coprich testified that he did not remember if he talked to the first Harvey police officers who had arrived at the scene of the shooting. Also, Coprich acknowledged that on the same day he had observed the lineup, he gave a statement to Detective White and Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Alzetta Bozeman. Coprich testified that he told Bozeman about the fight between Moten, Sakina, and Ward that preceded the shooting and that Moten had broken the windows of Ward's truck. Coprich explained that he declined to write out his own statement, leaving it to Bozeman to write down what he said. Coprich further recalled that he checked over Bozeman's recording of his statement, made no corrections, and signed it. On redirect, the State did not dispute that Coprich's written statement failed to mention the fight involving Moten and that Moten broke Ward's windows.

J.C. Johnson also testified for the State explaining that on September 24, 2000, he was with Walker, Moten, Sakina, and Lamont Crims at the Tolbert's home. As he and Walker walked down the alley behind the Tolbert's home, a cream-colored station wagon drove toward them. Johnson further testified that gunfire came from the station wagon and that he and Walker began to run. Johnson was struck by a bullet and fell to the ground. He testified that he did not see what happened to Walker. An ambulance then took ...

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