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Turner v. Roeckeman

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 3, 2013

DANIEL TURNER, Petitioner,
v.
ZACH ROECKEMAN, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

David R. Herndon, Chief Judge United States District Court.

In January, 2007, a jury in Champaign County, Illinois, convicted Daniel Turner of unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and vehicular hijacking. Only the vehicular hijacking conviction is at issue here. Turner filed a petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 9), raising the following grounds:

1. The state did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of vehicular hijacking because it did not prove that he “took” the vehicle from the victim.
2. Appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issue set forth above on direct appeal.

I. Relevant Facts

The facts giving rise to the vehicular hijacking conviction are described by the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, as follows:

At trial, the evidence tended to show that [Turner] struck [Andrea] Thomas in the face with his fist, shattering one of her teeth, and that he then requested the keys to her car. When she gave him the keys, he grabbed her by the arm and pushed her into the interior of her car, through the driver’s side door and over to the front passenger seat. He got in the driver’s seat and drove away, and as he drove, he struck her several more times in the face. When he stopped the car, she jumped out and ran to a retail store, where she spoke with the police.

Doc. 26, Ex. H, p. 2.

State court determinations of facts “shall be presumed to be correct” and can only be rebutted by “clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Mr. Turner does not dispute that Andrea Thomas testified to the above facts. See Doc. 9, p. 5.

On direct appeal, Turner raised only one issue as to the vehicular hijacking charge, i.e., that his thirty year sentence should be reduced to fifteen years under the “rule of lenity.” His argument was rejected by the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District. Doc. 26, Ex. C. His petition for leave to appeal was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court. Doc. 26, Ex. E.

Turner then filed a postconviction petition pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/122-1, et. seq., which was summarily dismissed by the trial court. He argued that counsel on direct appeal was ineffective for failing to argue that the state did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of vehicular hijacking because it did not prove that he physically separated the victim from her vehicle. The Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal of the petition. Doc. 26, Ex. H. The Illinois Supreme Court denied his petition for leave to appeal. Doc. 26, Ex. J.

II. Applicable Legal Standards

A. Law Applicable §2254 Petition This habeas petition is subject to the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, known as the AEDPA. “The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 modified a federal habeas court's role in reviewing state prisoner applications in order to prevent federal habeas ‘retrials’ and to ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under law.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 692 (2002).

Habeas is not yet another round of appellate review. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) restricts habeas relief to cases wherein the state court determination “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States” or “a decision that was based on an ...


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