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Tyson Gray v. Mike Atchison

July 16, 2012

TYSON GRAY, PETITIONER,
v.
MIKE ATCHISON, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U.S. District Judge

E-FILED Monday, 16 July, 2012 01:42:31 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

On January 18, 2012, Petitioner, Tyson Gray, submitted a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (#1) to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (#3). On January 18, 2012, Petitioner paid the $5 filing fee (#4), and on January 23, 2012, the case was transferred to this court from the Northern District of Illinois. On February 9, 2012, this court entered a text order dismissing the Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (#3) as moot. On February 22, 2012, Petitioner filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel (#9). On March 15, 2012, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss (#12) with attached exhibits. On March 23, 2012, Petitioner filed a Response (#14).

This court has carefully reviewed both parties' arguments and the exhibits filed in this case. Following this careful and thorough review, this court agrees with the Respondent that the Petitioner's § 2254 petition is time-barred. Therefore, Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (#12) is GRANTED, and Petitioner's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (#1) is DISMISSED.

FACTS

I. Pre-Trial Proceedings

On April 16, 2004, William Derrosset died of a stab wound to the neck. The Registered Nurse on duty at the emergency room to which Derrosset was taken stated that it was an apparent suicide. Deputy Coroner Steven Skinner and Lieutenant Mike Metzler of the Urbana Police Department ordered an autopsy because (1) Derrosset's neck wound was not consistent with a typical self-inflicted injury; (2) there had been a shooting death in Derrosset's neighborhood the previous month; and (3) Derrosset's door had been forced open, although it was not clear if it had been forced open from the inside or from the outside. Dr. Bryan Mitchell conducted an autopsy on April 17, 2004, and he believed that the wounds were self-inflicted because of hesitation marks on the arms and old scars that indicated that Derrosset may have tried to commit suicide in the past. Furthermore, Dr. Mitchell concluded that the angle of the wound to the neck was such that Derrosset could have inflicted it himself.

Urbana police investigators had observed Petitioner, who lived across the street from Derrosset, near the crime scene on the night of the Derrosset's death. Petitioner's uncle told the police that Petitioner had come home that night with a cut on his hand. Other witnesses reported that they had seen Petitioner around this time covered in blood, and four different people told police that Petitioner had told them that he had stabbed a man and taken his money. While Petitioner was in the Champaign County Jail, another source recorded several statements made by Petitioner about stabbing an old man. DNA tests were performed on blood found on the back of Petitioner's pants, revealing that it was Derrosset's blood. Petitioner's blood was not found on Derrosset's person.

An inquest into the manner of Derrosset's death was held on November 18, 2004. At the inquest, Lieutenant Metzler testified that the police department did not believe that the wounds were self-inflicted. However, because the investigation was still ongoing and because no one had been charged yet, he explained that he could not reveal any more information. After the inquest was held, the coroner's jury ruled Derrosset's death a homicide.

On November 1, 2006, Petitioner was charged with the murder of Derrosset and on January 26, 2006, Petitioner was indicted. A public defender was appointed for the Petitioner on February 2, 2006. On July 5, 2006, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and one count of residential burglary, for which he was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, with 167 days of credit given for time served. Petitioner did not file any post-plea motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and he did not file a direct appeal.

II. Post-conviction proceedings

On December 26, 2007, Petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition with the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Champaign, Illinois. Petitioner claimed that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney advised and pressured him to plead guilty to the murder of Derrosset even though the deputy coroner had ruled the death a suicide, and because his attorney failed to develop a defense for Petitioner. Petitioner also claimed that there were expert witnesses that could have testified that Derrosset's death was a suicide, including the Registered Nurse on duty in the emergency room the night that Derrosset was brought in, Dr. Mitchell and Deputy Coroner Steven Skinner. The Circuit Court dismissed the petition and Petitioner's ...


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