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United States ex rel. Wyatt v. Atchison

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 30, 2013

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Brandon V. WYATT, Petitioner,
Michael P. ATCHISON, Warden, Menard Correctional Center, Respondent.

Page 895

Brandon V. Wyatt, Menard, IL, pro se.

Gopi Kashyap, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL, for Respondent.


ELAINE E. BUCKLO, District Judge.

At the conclusion of a bench trial in February of 2005, petitioner Brandon Wyatt was convicted of first degree murder and attempted armed robbery and sentenced to consecutive terms of thirty-six and six years of incarceration for the July 17, 1999, shooting of Metra train ticket agent Wilbert Hooten. Petitioner challenged his conviction and sentence without success in both direct appeals and post-conviction proceedings in the Illinois state courts. Having no further avenues for relief in the state courts, petitioner now seeks a federal writ of habeas corpus. He asserts two claims: first, that the trial court violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when it denied his motion to suppress his confession; and second, that his trial counsel's refusal to call him to testify at the suppression hearing violated his right to effective counsel. For the reasons that follow, I deny his petition and decline to issue a certificate of appealability.

Page 896


The following facts are taken— but for a few undisputed details gleaned from my review of the record— from the Illinois Appellate Court's Rule 23 Order affirming petitioner's conviction and sentence on direct appeal, People v. Wyatt, No. 1-05-0819, 385 Ill.App.3d 1134, 361 Ill.Dec. 131, 970 N.E.2d 131 (Ill.App.Ct. Sept. 17, 2008), Resp. Ans., Exh. A (hereinafter, " Wyatt " ). [1]

On July 10, 2000, almost a year after Hooten's shooting, and a few months shy of petitioner's eighteenth birthday, petitioner was awakened in the middle of the night at a friend's house and arrested by Chicago Police Detective McVicker and another officer. Petitioner was arrested, handcuffed, taken to a squad car, and advised of his Miranda rights before being transported to Chicago's Area 2 police station.

At around 2:40 a.m., petitioner was taken to an interview room at Area 2. Detective McVicker removed petitioner's handcuffs and again advised him of his Miranda rights. McVicker was wearing his firearm and did not remove it from its holster. At some point, petitioner began to fall asleep during the interview, so McVicker stopped questioning him, gave him a bathroom break, and left the interview room, telling petitioner to " yell or knock on the door if he needed anything." McVicker checked on petitioner periodically over the next few hours and observed that he was sleeping.

The Illinois Appellate Court made no mention of what, if anything, took place from that point until 2:55 the next afternoon, when it noted that petitioner was again allowed to use the bathroom. Thereafter, petitioner was given food and a soda (at around 3:30 p.m.), palm-printed and fingerprinted at some point thereafter, and placed in physical lineups from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. After police advised petitioner that he had been identified in a lineup, petitioner confessed to Hooten's murder.

McVicker then contacted Assistant State's Attorney Beth Pfeiffer, who interviewed petitioner at around 1:00 a.m. on July 11, 2000. Pfeiffer again advised petitioner of his Miranda rights and explained that she was not his attorney and that he could be tried as an adult. Petitioner said he understood his rights, then made inculpatory statements, including a videotaped statement filmed at about 4:15 a.m. The video memorializes petitioner being orally Mirandized. Petitioner did not, however, receive written Miranda warnings.

The Illinois Appellate Court summarized petitioner's videotaped confession:

[Petitioner] stated that he had a conversation with a friend and they planned the robbery. [Petitioner] stated that he shot and killed the victim when he attempted to rob him. [He] stated that he was armed with a .32 caliber revolver that he had taken from his father's tool chest and was dressed in black jeans and a black jacket to avoid standing out. He waited on the train platform for a long time for a train which appeared to be good to rob. When the victim asked [petitioner] for his fare, [petitioner] took out his gun, pointed it at the victim and demanded his money. The victim dropped his fares and receipts but no money. [Petitioner] told the victim it was not a joke and the ...

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