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Pace v. Pfister

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 7, 2014

SAMUEL L. PACE, Petitioner,


DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.

In 1997, a jury in Jersey County, Illinois, convicted Samuel L. Pace of first degree murder. He filed a petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1), raising the following grounds:

1. Trial counsel was ineffective in the following respects:
a) failing to file a motion to suppress petitioner's statement to the police;
b) failing to seek the exclusion of semen evidence;
c) failing to object to the state's use of prior inconsistent statements of witnesses;
d) failing to object to hearsay testimony from the state's DNA expert;
e) forcing petitioner to testify against his will.
2. Petitioner was not present at critical stages of the trial, including hearings on what evidence and photographs would be allowed to go to the jury, "stipulation hearings, " jury instruction conference, and a conference to answer questions from the jury. by the jury, and a sentence of natural life was imposed to punish petitioner for refusing a plea offer and going to trial.
4. The state knowingly presented false testimony from Sheriff Yocom at a suppression hearing.
5. Counsel on direct appeal was ineffective in failing to raise the following arguments:
a) Sheriff Yocom gave false testimony at the suppression hearing;
b) petitioner was illegally arrested without a warrant;
c) police illegally entered petitioner's home without a warrant;
d) petitioner's sentence was unconstitutional because the jury did not find the facts that were used to enhance his sentence.
6. The warrantless arrest and search of petitioner's home violated the Fourth Amendment.

I. Relevant Facts

This summary of the facts is derived from the detailed description by the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, in its Rule 23 Order affirming petitioner's conviction on direct appeal. A copy of the Rule 23 Order is attached to Doc. 20 as Exhibit A. The state court's factual findings are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, which petitioner has not done. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e).

On April 17, 1996, Samuel Pace was on probation; he was required to wear an electronic monitoring device and was prohibited from leaving his home after 6:00 p.m. In the late afternoon, petitioner's brother Roger Pace and his wife went to petitioner's home. Samuel Pace was wearing blue jeans and a Harley-Davidson t-shirt. Madge Crader, who was petitioner's cousin, arrived shortly thereafter with beer. Roger Pace and his wife left at around 6:00 p.m. At that time, Samuel Pace and Madge Crader were intoxicated and were drinking beer.

At about 7:00 p.m., Samuel Pace called Roger Pace and asked him to return to the house, but Roger Pace did not go. Kenneth Pace, another brother, testified that Samuel Pace called him the same evening, but he did not remember the time or the substance of the call. However, he acknowledged that he had told the grand jury that Samuel Pace called him at around 6:15 p.m. and asked him to help dispose of Madge Crader's body.

A third brother, Jeffrey Pace, testified that Samuel Pace called him in the early evening on April 17, 1996, and told him that Crader's body was in the garage. Jeffrey Pace went to the house and saw Crader's body in the garage. Jeffrey Pace denied that Samuel Pace admitted killing Crader. However, he acknowledged that he had told the grand jury that Samuel Pace admitted killing Crader.

Sheriff Yocom testified that Jeffrey Pace called him at around 11:00 p.m. on that same night. The sheriff testified that Jeffrey Pace told him that defendant had killed Madge Crader and her body was in the garage. Sheriff Yocom and other officers arrived at the house about thirty minutes later. They did not have an arrest warrant or search warrant. They found Samuel Pace wearing only a pair of shorts and sandals. He had a cut on his left hand and there was blood on his hands, back, ankle, right big toe, right palm and sandal. Samuel Pace was arrested and handcuffed. An officer noticed a set of keys and asked Pace what locks they opened. Pace said that the keys opened a padlock on the garage. The officer then unlocked the garage and found Madge Crader's body. She was only partially-clothed and her shoes were missing. The officer also found a ballpeen hammer in the kitchen sink which appeared to have blood and hair on it.

After petitioner was taken to the jail, Sheriff Yocom and officers returned to the house with a search warrant. They found a bloody knife and sledgehammer in the garage near the body, bloodstains on the couch and clothes dryer, and blood spatters in the garage. They also found a pair of blue jeans, a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and gym shoes in the washing machine, and metal hooks and eyelets in a wood burning stove. The hooks and eyelets matched the hooks and eyelets on the shoes that Madge Crader was wearing that day.

Petitioner testified at trial. He denied killing Madge Crader. He said that Crader had gone to the garage to get a pack of cigarettes. He stayed in the kitchen to cook frozen sausage patties. He cut his hand while attempting to separate the frozen patties. He put a paper towel on the cut to stop the bleeding, and returned to the living room to drink his beer. He then saw someone run out of his garage. When Madge Crader did not come back, he went into the garage and found her body. Samuel Pace did not call the police because he was afraid that they would think that he killed Crader. Instead, he called his brother Kenneth, who refused to help him move the body. He then called his brother Jeffrey, who came to the house and saw the body. After Jeffrey left, he locked the garage and fell asleep on the couch. When he awoke, officers were in his house.

A pathologist testified that Crader died from blunt trauma to the head, and her throat was slashed. Semen was found on the body. However, this meant only that Crader had sex, and not that a sexual assault had taken place.

A forensic scientist testified that Crader's blood was on the sledgehammer, knife, ballpeen hammer and Samuel Pace's right big toe. He found blood on the clothes that were recovered from the washing machine.

Tabitha Marcacci, a forensic biologist, conducted DNA testing. She testified that blood from both Samuel Pace and Madge Crowder was present on the ...

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