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United States Ex Rel. Jermaine Davis (#R42349 v. Joseph Yurkovich

December 17, 2012


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


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


Davis does not present clear and convincing evidence challenging the statement of facts in the last state court decisions to address his arguments on the merits -- which were the Supreme Court of Illinois' 2009 decision and the Illinois Appellate Court's 2011 decision -- and thus the Court presumes those facts are correct for purposes of its habeas review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Carter v. Thompson, 690 F.3d 837, 839 (7th Cir. 2012). The Court therefore adopts the underlying facts as set forth by People v. Davis, 233 Ill.2d 244, 330 Ill.Dec. 744, 909 N.E.2d 766 (2009), and People v. Davis, No. 1-10-0254 (1st Dist. Dec. 28, 2011) (unpublished).

I. Factual Background

At trial, evidence was presented that a group of men beat Demetrius Thomas unconscious on October 10, 1999, near a Chicago housing project. Thereafter, a Chicago Housing Authority police officer responded to a call about the incident and found Thomas lying in a garbage dumpster. Thomas was taken to the hospital and remained in a coma for approximately two months before he died of an infection that resulted from the brain injury he had suffered as a result of the beating.

The State's key witness was Quincy Campbell, who had a criminal record and remained a suspect in the case until he gave a statement to police. At trial, Campbell testified that he witnessed a group of men beat the victim. Campbell, however, had a hard time remembering the names and events, but he did acknowledge that he had given a written statement to police on January 3, 2000, about the incident. According to his written statement, he knew four of the five men who beat the victim from his neighborhood, namely, Maurice Thomas, Pee Wee, Hip Hop, and Kevin. Campbell then identified Davis as Hip Hop.

Also, Campbell's written statement indicated that during the encounter, Pee Wee struck the victim with a stick three times. Campbell described the stick used to beat the victim December 17, 2012 as a piece of cut lumber. In addition, in his written statement, Campbell stated that the victim got up and ran, but the men chased him around a building where the others began beating him. When the victim fell to the ground, Davis began striking him with his feet. While Campbell was watching the beating, Maurice Thomas asked Campbell to act as lookout for police, but Campbell refused. According to Campbell, when the beating ended, Davis picked up the victim by the collar and pants and tossed him into a garbage dumpster. Campbell denied participating in the beating.

Other evidence presented at trial included that the police conducted a lineup on January 22, 2000, in which Campbell identified Davis. Later that same day, police confronted Davis with the fact of Campbell's identification and Davis gave a written statement to an Assistant State's Attorney in which Davis admitted his involvement in the incident. According to his statement, Davis was "hanging out" in the area when he saw Maurice Thomas bring the victim outside from a building. According to Davis, the victim broke free of Maurice Thomas' grasp, ran around the back of the building, and entered a hallway on the first floor. Maurice ran after him, and Maurice and Pee Wee proceeded to beat the victim. Davis maintains that he "kept watch" from about two feet away to make sure no one saw what was going on. After Maurice Thomas and Pee Wee finished the beating, the victim was lying face down and unconscious. Davis then grabbed him by the back of his pants and shirt and threw him into a dumpster.

Samara Sadler, the sister of the victim, testified for the defense. She testified that she observed the victim come out of the building with Campbell and Maurice Thomas and that Campbell and Thomas began hitting the victim. She stated that she knew both Campbell and Thomas from the neighborhood. Thereafter, she testified that the group ran around the building and she followed them. When she got there, she observed the victim lying on the ground and unconscious. She also observed that two or three people were around the victim, but she did not know if one of them was Davis. She testified that she knew Davis from the neighborhood, but that she did not see Davis strike the victim at any time.

During its closing argument, the State argued that it was not necessary for it prove that Davis intended to kill the victim, but only that Davis or one for whom he was accountable combined to do an unlawful act, such as commit an aggravated battery, and that the victim was killed by one of the parties committing that act. In other words, the State argued that because Davis was a part of the aggravated battery, he was legally responsible for the victim's death. The jury returned a verdict finding Davis guilty of first degree murder and the Circuit Court sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

II. Procedural Background

Davis appealed his conviction and sentence to the Illinois Appellate Court arguing that:

(1) his case should be remanded for a hearing to analyze the State's peremptory challenge of an African-American juror under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986); and (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury. On June 29, 2007, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Davis' conviction and sentence. Davis then filed a petition for leave to appeal ("PLA") to the Supreme Court of Illinois arguing both his jury instruction issue and Batson claim. The Supreme Court of Illinois allowed Davis' PLA on November 29, 2007. On November 20, 2008, the Supreme Court of Illinois remanded Davis' case to the trial court to conduct a Batson hearing. See People v. Davis, 231 Ill.2d 349, 369, 326 Ill.Dec. 21, 899 N.E.2d 238 (2008). After the trial court completed the Batson hearing on remand and concluded that Davis had failed to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination in use of peremptory challenges, the Supreme Court ...

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