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Scott v. Williams

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

June 6, 2014

DENNIS SCOTT, Petitioner,
TARRY WILLIAMS, Warden, Stateville Correctional Center, Respondent.


GARY FEINERMAN, District Judge.

Dennis Scott, who is serving a lengthy sentence in Illinois state prison for first degree murder, burglary, and attempted robbery, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Doc. 1. After the Warden answered, Doc. 14, the court granted Scott's request for a copy of the state court record and for an extension of time to file a reply, Doc. 16, but Scott never filed a reply. Scott's petition is denied, and a certificate of appealability will not issue.


A. Factual Background

A federal habeas court presumes correct the factual findings made by the last state court to adjudicate the case on the merits, unless those findings are rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Coleman v. Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2012) ("We give great deference to state court factual findings. After AEDPA, we are required to presume a state court's account of the facts correct, and the petitioner has the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.") (internal quotation marks omitted); Rever v. Acevedo, 590 F.3d 533, 537 (7th Cir. 2010); Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696, 704 (7th Cir. 2003). The Appellate Court of Illinois is the last state court to have adjudicated Scott's criminal case on the merits. People v. Scott, 2011 IL App (1st) 100284-U (Ill.App. Aug. 5, 2011) (reproduced at Doc. 15-7); People v. Scott, No. 1-04-3487 (Ill.App. Aug. 14, 2006) (reproduced at Doc. 15-1). Scott does not argue, let alone show, that the presumption of correctness enjoyed by the appellate court's factual findings has been overcome. The following sets forth the facts as found by that court.

On May 16, 2001, Scott and Marcus Rhodes were walking around Scott's neighborhood when Scott entered an open garage looking for something to steal. Doc. 15-1 at 2. As the garage door closed, the eighty-five-year-old woman that lived in the home also entered the garage. Ibid. Scott murdered her. Ibid. The victim was discovered partially disrobed, and the medical examiner concluded her injuries were consistent with stomping. Id. at 3.

The police tracked Scott to his mother's home, placed him in handcuffs, swept the home for additional people, and then removed the handcuffs. Id. at 4-7, 9. The police asked for consent to search the home. Id. at 4-8, 10. According to Scott, he initially declined but ultimately succumbed because the officers said that they would get a search warrant and he was "frightened." Id. at 8. The police found and seized several items inside the home, including white shoes with a blood stain. Id. at 10.

After the search, Scott agreed to accompany Detective Sevik and Sergeant Feldman in a patrol car to find Rhodes. Id. at 10, 15. Scott and the two officers were unable to locate Rhodes and went to the Oak Lawn police station. Id. at 10. Detective Palmer joined Detective Sevik, and the two questioned Scott in a conference room for an hour. Id. at 11. Scott received his Miranda warnings before the questioning began, but he was told that he was not yet under arrest. Ibid. During the questioning, Scott stated "that maybe he would talk to his attorney, " after which all questioning ceased and Scott was taken to the "lockup area." Id. at 15. The detectives placed Scott under arrest based on several witness accounts, the bloody shoe, and other evidence that the police had discovered. Id. at 12, 15.

In the lockup area, Scott said that he wanted to speak to Sevik and Palmer again. Id. at 15. Scott was told that because he had requested an attorney, the police could not speak to him unless he initiated the conversation. Id. at 15-16. Scott reassured them that he wanted to talk to the officers without an attorney. Id. at 15. Scott was again read his Miranda warnings, and he signed a Miranda waiver. Id. at 15-17. Scott then confessed to the crime. Ibid. After another set of Miranda warnings, a state prosecutor took a written statement. Id. at 14-15, 17. Scott's testimony at his suppression hearing recalled things differently, id. at 13-14, but the state trial court did not credit his testimony, id. at 18, and the state appellate court affirmed the trial court in this respect, id. at 29-30, 32-33.

B. Procedural Background

1. Trial and Direct Review

Scott filed motions to quash his arrest and suppress evidence, which the trial court denied in written orders. Doc. 15-2 at 75-91. Scott was convicted at trial. During sentencing, the prosecution noted that the victim was partially disrobed and suggested that Scott was committing "a rape that got interrupted" when someone walked in. Doc. 15-1 at 21. Scott received a sixty-year sentence for first degree murder and seven-year sentences for burglary and attempted robbery, with the seven-year terms running concurrently with each other and consecutive to the sixty-year sentence. Doc. 15-1 at 25; Doc. 15-2 at 95.

Scott appealed his conviction, raising four arguments: (1) that the trial court erred in not suppressing the evidence discovered during the search; (2) that the trial court erred in not quashing his arrest, which occurred (according to Scott) when he was in the squad car; (3) that the trial court erred in not suppressing the statements he made after he requested counsel; and (4) that the sentence was excessive because the trial court did not consider his rehabilitative potential and relied on improper statements by the prosecutor. Doc. 15-2. The Appellate Court of Illinois rejected Scott's claims and affirmed. Doc. 15-1. Scott pressed the ...

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