United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
KEVIN L. KOONTZ, Petitioner,
LISA MADIGAN, Illinois Attorney General,  Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.
Petitioner, Kevin Koontz, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 claiming the evidence presented against him at his criminal trial was insufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (Doc. 1). Respondent contends that Koontz is barred by § 2254(d) from re-litigating this claim (Doc. 14). For the reasons stated below, the habeas petition is denied, and the Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
Following a bench trial in 2009 in the Third Circuit Court in Madison County, Illinois, Kevin Koontz was convicted on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (Doc. 14-6, p. 58). He was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment followed by two years of mandatory supervised release (Doc. 14-6, p. 79).
The following facts regarding Koontz's conviction and sentence are taken from the Illinois Appellate Court's Rule 23 Order denying Koontz's direct appeal (Doc. 14-3). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), the facts are presumed to be correct for the purposes of habeas review as Koontz neither contests them nor points to clear and convincing evidence to the contrary ( See Doc. 1).
According to the testimony of the victim, on the afternoon of October 26, 2007, she and her younger sister were dropped off at their grandmother's house in Alton, Illinois, to do laundry. The victim, who was then 16 years old, was sitting on a futon in the "sitting room" off the living room talking on the phone to her boyfriend. Her sister was sitting on the couch in the living room. While she was talking on the phone, she heard [Koontz] come into the kitchen and say something about aluminum.
Next, [Koontz] came over to her in the sitting room and said, give your cousin Kevin a hug." The victim did not hug [Koontz] because she was on the phone and pushed him away. She claimed that [Koontz] tried to hug her two more times and then she thought he left the room. [Koontz], however, allegedly came up behind her and grabbed her breasts and rubbed her vagina on top of her clothes. The victim called her father to come and pick her up. She did not tell her grandparents about the incident even though both of them were home at the time. The victim's younger sister, who observed parts of the encounter from her seat in the living room, corroborated the victim's testimony. The victim's father also testified that his daughter called him crying saying that her cousin tried to touch her. He picked up his daughter and drove her to her mother's house. He stated he did not go to the police because the incident was a family matter.
Everyone else in the house at the time of the alleged incident denied [Koontz] was there. [Koontz] and his wife also claimed that [Koontz] could not have touched his cousin as she alleged because he was at work. [Koontz's] wife owns several businesses and [Koontz] runs one of the stores for her. They have video surveillance between the businesses and [Koontz's] wife testified that she observed him at the store several times during the time frame of the alleged incident. In addition, [Koontz] was on parole and wore an ankle bracelet and a transmitter on his hip that monitored his location at all times. The monitoring device showed a signal loss for [Koontz] during the time frame of the alleged incident but at all other times during the day reported that he was at his wife's store. [Koontz's] parole agent testified that sometimes the device can be blocked by buildings and it is not uncommon for the device to lose a signal inside a location, but as long as it is exposed to the open sky, it will not lose a signal. By stipulation, the director of product development for the company responsible for the device that was used to track [Koontz's] whereabouts would testify, "Wrapping the * * * device in aluminum foil would prevent the unit from receiving satellite signals and thus prevent it from reporting the whereabouts of the offender." The parties also stipulated that the signal could be blocked by being inside a building.
[Koontz] and his wife believed the victim made the accusations against him as part of a plan to extort money from [Koontz's] wife. An inmate with [Koontz] at the time of his incarceration also testified that he had dated the victim during the time frame in question and that he heard the victim state that she was about to come into some money as a result of a lie that she had told on her cousin. The victim denied having any relationship with the inmate and further denied any involvement in an attempt to extort money from [Koontz] and his wife.
After taking the matter under advisement, the trial court found [Koontz] guilty of both counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and sentenced [Koontz] to 10 years' imprisonment. At the hearing on [Koontz's] motion for a new trial and motion to modify sentence, [Koontz] continued to maintain his innocence. The court subsequently reduced the sentence to eight years.
Koontz directly appealed his conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court arguing that the evidence presented against him at trial was insufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (Doc. 14-1). According to Koontz, the State's entire case rested upon the testimony of the victim and her younger sister, but their testimony was contradicted by the other adults present in the home who said Koontz was not at the house that day; by his wife who testified Koontz was at work; and by his ankle bracelet which also placed him at work (Doc. 14-3). The Illinois Appellate Court reviewed all of the evidence presented at Koontz's criminal trial, rejected his argument, and affirmed his conviction (Doc. 14-3). The Appellate Court stated:
Contrary to [Koontz's] assertions, his entire case did not just rest solely on the testimony of the victim and her sister. The victim's mother and father fully corroborated her testimony as well. Moreover, minor discrepancies in a victim's testimony do not render that testimony unbelievable or incompetent. We also note that there was a signal loss from [Koontz's] monitoring device at exactly the time [Koontz] allegedly sexually abused his cousin. And, there was testimony about [Koontz] needing or having aluminum foil when he entered the home with supporting testimony that aluminum foil could prevent the unit from receiving satellite signals and prevent it from reporting the whereabouts of the wearer of the device. Again, we are not to judge the credibility of the witnesses. In reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, we therefore must conclude the evidence presented was sufficient to support [Koontz's] convictions.
(Doc. 14-3) (internal citations omitted). Koontz then filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal ("PLA") with the Illinois Supreme Court, but the PLA was ...