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Negron v. Harrington

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 14, 2013

ANGEL NEGRON (N80312), Petitioner,
v.
RICK HARRINGTON, Warden, Menard Correctional Center, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Pro se petitioner Angel Negron (prisoner number N80312) was a janitor in an apartment building in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Six-year-old K.R. and her seven-year-old sister, G.R, lived in an apartment in the building. The jury found Negron guilty of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse with respect to G.R. The trial court sentenced Negron to consecutive prison terms of sixty years and forty years for the two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault plus concurrent prison terms of seven years for each of the two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, to be served consecutive to the sentences for the assault convictions. Negron has petitioned this court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 arguing, among other things, that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict. For the following reasons, the petition is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

The court begins by summarizing the facts and procedural posture. It will presume that the state court's factual determinations are correct for the purposes of habeas review as Negron neither contests them nor points to clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Todd v. Schomig, 283 F.3d 842, 846 (7th Cir. 2002). The following facts and procedural posture are drawn from the state court record (Dkt. 13) and the Illinois Appellate Court's orders addressing Negron's direct appeal, People v. Negron, No. 1-06-2624 (Ill.App.Ct. June 24, 2008) (unpublished order, as modified afer the denial of rehearing) (Dkt. 13-1), and collateral appeal, People v. Negron, No. 1-09-3185 (Ill.App.Ct. Sept. 30, 2011) (unpublished order) (Dkt. 13-14).

A. Negron's Trial

The evidence adduced at trial established that in 2004, Negron and his wife, Ruth Negron, lived in an apartment on the fourth floor of a building located at 5727 North Winthrop in Chicago. Negron provided building maintenance, and his wife managed the building. K.R. and G.R. lived in an apartment on the second floor of the same building with their parents and siblings. K.R. and G.R. were friendly with Negron's wife and often went to the Negrons' apartment to have meals, get their hair done, or watch movies.

1. K.R. and G.R

Both K.R. and G.R. testified at trial. At that time, they were eight and ten years old, respectively. According to K.R., she visited Negron's apartment with G.R. sometime after December 2003. Negron told both girls to lie on the floor and take off their pants, and Negron touched K.R.'s anus with his penis. Later that same day, Negron took the girls into the bedroom. Negron laid K.R. on the bed, pulled her pants down, took off his own pants and touched her vagina with his penis. K.R. testified that she closed her eyes and did not see anything happen to G.R., who was also on the bed. Negron then showed the sisters three guns, two of which K.R. believed were toys, and said he would kill their parents if they told anyone about the incident. Nevertheless, about three days later, K.R. told her older brother that Negron had touched her while she was at his apartment.

G.R. testified that Negron touched her on four different occasions while she was in his apartment. On the first occasion, Negron sat next to her on his couch while she and several other children, including K.R., watched a movie. According to G.R. Negron put his hand into her pants from the waistband and touched her "in [her] private part" in the front "[w]here [she] go[es] pee." Dkt. 13-1 at 3. She also used hand gestures to indicate that Negron rubbed her vagina.

On the second occasion, G.R. and K.R. were again sitting on the couch with Negron. Negron used his hand to touch G.R.'s vagina over her clothes. G.R. saw Negron do the same thing to K.R. The third incident took place in Negron's bedroom. Negron put G.R. and K.R. on the bed, removed their clothing, and tried to insert his penis into G.R.'s vagina. Negron also touched K.R.'s vagina with his penis. After this incident, Negron twice G.R. not to tell anyone or he would kill her parents, and showed G.R. bullets and three or four guns. Although Negron told G.R. that one of the guns was a toy, she thought that the other guns were real. On the fourth occasion, G.R. was in Negron's apartment with K.R. and their brother, J.R. Negron kissed G.R. and K.R. on their mouths while they were in the back of the apartment near the bathroom.

2. Rebecca Barrera

Rebecca Barrera, G.R. and K.R.'s mother, testified that on February 19, 2004, her son, J.R., reported what K.R. had told him about Negron. Barrera confronted Negron's wife, Ruth, who became angry and said that the Barrera family might have to move from their apartment. Barrera then called the police, who took her and her daughters to Children's Memorial Hospital. The following day, Barrera took her daughters to the Children's Advocacy Center, where they were examined.

3. Dr. Michelle Lorand

Dr. Michelle Lorand testified that she examined G.R. at the Children's Advocacy Center on February 20, 2004. She stated that G.R. told her that a man had reached under her clothes and touched her vagina and her anus with his hand. G.R. also said that the man had touched her vagina with his tongue and his penis and that he had inserted his finger and his penis into her vagina. Dr. Lorand's examination revealed that G.R. had hemorrhaging and scar tissue around her hymen that was consistent with a penetration-type trauma to the hymen. These findings were also consistent with the two types of penetration described in the history provided by G.R. Dr. Lorand testified that she concluded to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that G.R. had been sexually abused.

4. Dr. Afsoon Kamiri

Dr. Afsoon Kamiri testified that she examined K.R. at the Children's Advocacy Center. That examination revealed no abnormalities in K.R.'s labia, hymen, or anus. Dr. Karimi stated that during K.R.'s interview, she was crying and shaky when asked about whether someone had touched her.

5. R.R.

R.R., who was not related to G.R. and K.R., testified that in August of 1986, she was seven years old and was friends with Negron's daughter, Zaida, who lived in a nearby building. R.R. stated that on August 16, 1986, she was in Negron's apartment with Zaida. After Zaida was sent to the store, Negron forced R.R. to go into his bedroom where he showed her pornographic books and movies. Negron then placed R.R. on the bed, pulled down her pants and underwear, took off his own clothes, and touched his penis against her vagina. After Zaida entered the room, Negron told R.R. to put her clothes on and leave the apartment, and warned her that if she told her mother, he would kill her mother and her brothers. Several months later, R.R. told a teacher about the incident and R.R. eventually testified against Negron in court.

6. Officer Wagner

Officer Michael Wagner responded to Barrera's telephone call on February 19, 2004, and went to Negron's apartment. He found an unloaded Marksman model 1710 pellet gun leaning against the wall in the hallway of Negron's apartment. Wagner's partner found a toy replica of a silver Colt 45. Wagner testified that the replica could not be fired, and he did not know whether the pellet gun was operable. Wagner arrested Negron and recovered the toy replica and the pellet gun. Detective Mark DiMeo searched Negron's apartment the following day and recovered a black pellet gun and a separate bag of pellets. DiMeo did not test the pellet gun to determine whether it was capable of firing.

7. The Defense Case

The defense theory was that G.R. and K.R.'s family fabricated the girls' stories to avoid eviction from their apartment. To support this theory, Negron called William Robert Lucas, who owned the apartment building. Lucas testified that he had received complaints that Barrera's children had been running in the hallways, playing on the stairs, and disturbing other residents. Lucas told Ruth Negron to inform Mrs. Barrera that she would be evicted unless she controlled her children. Lucas also stated that the Barrera family continued to live in the building until the summer of 2004.

Ruth Negron testified that, before her husband's arrest on February 19, 2004, she warned Barrera that she had to control her children or the family would be evicted. According to Negron, Negron was arrested later that night.

B. The Verdict and Negron's Sentencing

The jury found Negron guilty of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse with respect to G.R. The trial court sentenced Negron to prison terms of sixty years and forty years, to be served consecutively, for the two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. It also sentenced Negron to concurrent prison terms of seven years for each of the two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, to be served consecutive to the sentences for the assault convictions.

C. Negron's Direct Appeal

Negron appealed with the assistance of ...


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