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United States Ex Rel. Donnie Baker (#K76218 v. Bradley J. Robert

February 24, 2012

UNITED STATES EX REL. DONNIE BAKER (#K76218), PETITIONER,
v.
BRADLEY J. ROBERT, WARDEN, CENTRALIA CORRECTIONAL CENTER, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is pro se Petitioner Donnie Baker's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).*fn1 For the following reasons, the Court denies Baker's habeas petition and declines to certify any issues for appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).

BACKGROUND

Baker 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, Third District, in People v. Baker, No. 3-09-0420 (3d Dist. Apr. 7, 2011) (unpublished).*fn2 The Court first turns to a summary of the evidence presented at Baker's bench trial. See Allen v. Buss, 558 F.3d 657, 659 (7th Cir. 2009).

I. Factual Background

At the 2009 bench trial in this matter, a police officer testified that a search warrant was issued for Katherine Baker's residence because a man who lived there named "D" sold some crack cocaine to the police. Katherine Baker, Petitioner's grandmother, testified at trial that Donnie Baker lived with her when the police executed the search warrant on October 21, 2008. Donnie Baker's aunt, Carla Sykes, who also lived with Katherine Baker, testified at trial that when the police executed the warrant, she told them that "D" was Donnie and that he kept a box containing some personal items in a closet.

The police officers searched the closet and found a box that contained a Crown Royal liquor bag containing 18 individually wrapped plastic bags that were split between three larger plastic bags. The bags contained a total of 2.3 grams of crack cocaine. Meanwhile, when Donnie Baker returned to his grandmother's home that day, the police arrested him. At that time, Donnie Baker admitted to the police that the crack cocaine was his, but that he was an addict and it was for his personal use. He further told the police that he had bought the crack earlier that day and had smoked the contents of four smaller bags. Also, he told the police that he did not have a crack pipe because he used other people's pipes and did not like to keep a pipe on him.

Also at trial, Kankakee police officer Christopher Kidwell testified that in his 20 years of experience as a police officer, he had been involved in hundreds of narcotic-based arrests. Officer Kidwell stated that the manner in which the crack cocaine was package indicated preparation for sale. Further, Officer Kidwell testified that in his experience, he has never encountered a crack cocaine user with more than two or three bags in his possession. He admitted, however, that he was aware of cases in which undercover police officers have purchased more than two or three bags of crack cocaine at a time. Nonetheless, Officer Kidwell testified that it was not typical for crack cocaine users to store drugs because the urge was too strong to use the crack cocaine.

At the close of the bench trial, the Circuit Court of Kankakee County -- finding Officer Kidwell a credible witness -- concluded that the manner in which the police found the crack cocaine indicated that Baker intended to sell it. The Circuit Court then concluded that Baker was guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver while within 1,000 feet of senior citizen housing and sentenced Baker to fifteen years imprisonment.

II. Procedural Background

On appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, Baker argued that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. The Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, rejected his claim on April 7, 2011. Baker then filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") to the Supreme Court of Illinois arguing that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. The Supreme Court of Illinois denied his PLA on September 28, 2011.

III. Habeas Petition

On December 27, 2011, Baker filed the present pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d). Construing Baker's pro se habeas petition liberally, see Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011), he argues that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was ...


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