United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge
Maclin filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 2007 state court
conviction for first-degree felony murder.R. 1, Habeas
For the reasons stated below, Maclin’s petition is
denied and this Court will not issue a certificate of
reviewing a petition for habeas corpus relief under §
2254, a federal court must presume that the factual findings
made by the last state court to decide the case on the merits
are correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Coleman v.
Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2015). This
presumption can be overcome if the petitioner rebuts the
state court’s findings by clear and convincing
evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Because Maclin has not
presented clear and convincing evidence to rebut this
presumption of correctness, the Court adopts the facts set
forth by the Illinois Appellate Court in People v.
Maclin, 12 N.E.3d 648 (Ill.App.Ct. 2014)-the last state
court to address Maclin’s arguments on the merits.
Pursuant to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases
in the United States District Courts, the facts are also
supplemented where appropriate by the state-court record
lodged with this Court. See Todd v. Schomig, 283
F.3d 842, 846 (7th Cir. 2002); United States ex rel.
Parish v. Hodge, 73 F.Supp.3d 895, 899 n.1 (N.D. Ill.
Arrest and Trial
3, 2002, Ernest McGhee was stabbed in the neck and died.
People v. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d 648, 650 (Ill.App.Ct.
2014). That same day, the police arrested George Maclin for
McGhee’s murder. Id. On July 30, 2002, Maclin
was indicted on charges of murder and armed robbery.
Id. The State of Illinois proceeded to trial on one
count of felony murder predicated on armed robbery.
Id.; 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (felony murder statute);
720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(1) (armed robbery statute). Almost five
year later, on May 16, 2007, Maclin’s trial began in
the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Id.
Testimony of Emmett Brown
time of Maclin’s trial, Emmett Brown worked as a
mechanic. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 650. Brown testified
that he had been friends with McGhee for six or seven years.
Id. He stated that at around 1 a.m. on July 3, 2002,
he drove to a vacant lot on Adams Street and Western Avenue
in Chicago to drink beer; he and his friends often visited
that lot on weekends and during the week after work.
Id. While sitting in the passenger seat of his car,
Brown opened a beer and began talking to his friend Vearb
Smith. Id. Brown stated that he then noticed Maclin
walking back and forth in the vacant lot and heard Maclin say
“he wasn’t going to let nobody else take no money
from him” and “whoever do it he going to kill
little later, Brown saw another car pull up and park behind
him. Maclin, 12 N.E.2d at 650. A woman named Helen
was driving and McGhee was in the passenger seat.
Id. at 650-51. When McGhee got out of the car,
Maclin immediately approached McGhee and began arguing about
$5 that McGhee owed Maclin. Id. at 651. Brown
testified that Maclin told McGhee, “you going to pay me
my money, ” and McGhee said, “I don’t have
it.” Id. Maclin then told McGhee to go inside
a nearby house and get the money. Id. McGhee went
inside the house, but came out empty-handed. Id.
Maclin then began to chase McGhee around one of the vehicles
in the lot before pulling out a knife. Id. Brown
stated that Maclin made a stabbing motion with the knife and
said “you going to get my money or I’m going to
kill you.” Id. McGhee then ran across the
street, picked up some “rocks or bricks, ” and
began throwing them at Maclin. Id. Maclin then
walked over to a blue van-which McGhee had been servicing
earlier that day-parked on Adams Street. Id. at
650-51. Maclin took McGhee’s toolbox from the van.
Id. at 651. McGhee told Maclin, “you
can’t take my toolbox, I need that”; but Maclin
responded, “you going to give me my money.”
Id. Maclin then put down the toolbox and began to
chase McGhee again. Id. McGhee started to run away,
but ran out of breath and slowed to a walk. Id.
McGhee fell backward, hitting his head on the ground, which
gave Maclin time to catch up, to get on top of McGhee, and to
pin down McGhee’s arms. Id. Brown testified
that Maclin grabbed McGhee’s hands and “slowly
stuck [McGhee] in the neck.” Id. Maclin then
got up and walked away. Id.
testified that after Maclin stabbed McGhee in the neck, Brown
got out of his car to help McGhee. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d
at 651. A woman named Rebecca Beck also came over to help.
Id. Both Brown and Beck helped McGhee walk over to
the blue van. Id. Once they reached the blue van,
McGhee collapsed against a light pole and began gasping for
air. Id. Brown called the paramedics. Id.
Brown stated that he went to the police station to give a
statement and then returned to his car in the vacant lot.
Id. Brown and Smith began trying to figure out
Maclin’s last name because they knew him simply as
“George.” Id. Brown and Smith remembered
that Maclin had some “medical papers” with him
when he was around the area of the vacant lot. Id.
When they found Maclin’s mail on the side of a building
near the vacant lot, Brown called the police. Id.
Both Brown and Smith brought Maclin’s mail to the
police station. Id. Brown testified that later that
night, on July 3, 2002, he saw Maclin in the area of the
vacant lot and called the police. Id. When the
police arrived, Brown pointed them in the direction of
Western Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. Id. On July 4,
2002, Brown identified Maclin in a lineup. Id.
Testimony of Vearb Smith
Smith testified that he and McGhee were friends and had
worked as mechanics together. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at
651. Smith stated that in the early morning of July 3, 2002,
he was asleep on the second floor of a building located at
2337 West Adams Street. Id. Smith heard a commotion
and went downstairs to see what was going on. Id. As
he stood on the porch of his building, he saw McGhee lying on
the ground with Maclin “standing on top of
[McGhee].” Id. Maclin then walked away from
McGhee, and McGhee started to yell for help. Id.
Beck helped McGhee get up and walk toward Smith. Id.
Smith noticed that McGhee was holding his neck, and saw
McGhee collapse at the base of a light pole near the blue
van. Id. Smith stated that he remained at the scene
and spoke with a police officer. Id. Smith testified
that later that morning, he was on the porch of his building
talking to Brown. Id. Smith and Brown wanted to
learn Maclin’s last name. Id. Smith remembered
that Maclin had been drinking in the area of the vacant lot
with his “V.A. papers, ” id. at 651-52,
presumably a reference to Veterans Affairs documents. Smith
stated that he went to the side of a building where Maclin
had been drinking, retrieved Maclin’s papers, and gave
the papers to Brown. Id. at 652. Smith and Brown
then called the police and took the papers to the police
station. Id. On July 4, 2002, Smith identified
Maclin in a lineup. Id.
Testimony of Chicago Police Officer Todd
Police Officer Todd Stremplewski testified that he and his
partner were the original officers on the scene, where they
learned that a man had been stabbed with a knife.
Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 652. The next day, on July 4,
2002, Officer Stremplewski and his partner responded to a
radio call regarding property found at the vacant lot of 2339
West Adams Street. Id. When he arrived at the lot,
Officer Stremplewski spoke with Marilyn Green. Id.
He testified that Green took him to the area where McGhee was
killed and directed him to a nearby garbage can. Id.
Officer Stremplewski looked in the garbage can and found a
knife. Id. The parties stipulated that the knife had
a bloodstain on it which was consistent with McGhee’s
DNA profile. Id.
Testimony of Chicago Police Detective David March
Police Detective David March was assigned as a follow-up
detective to investigate McGhee’s killing.
Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 652. Detective March testified
that the original case report stated that the offender was
named “George.” Id. Detective March
reviewed the available reports and learned that some mail
addressed to Maclin had been recovered. Id. At 11:30
p.m. on July 3, 2002, Detective March received a telephone
call from Brown; Brown informed March that Maclin was back at
the scene of McGhee’s killing. Id. When
Detective March arrived at the scene, Beck directed him to a
Chicago Transit Authority bus that was going westbound on
Jackson Boulevard. Id. Detective March and his
fellow detectives stopped the bus and took Maclin into
custody. Id. At the police station, Detective March
advised Maclin of his Miranda rights and interviewed
him. Id. Maclin denied having any knowledge of, or
involvement in, McGhee’s death. Id. Maclin
stated that he did not remember where he was during the
incident. Id. Detective March testified that as part
of processing, he removed Maclin’s shirt to note any
scars, tattoos, or other marks that could be used for
identification purposes. Id. When he did this,
Detective March noticed an abrasion on Maclin’s left
armpit area. Id. When Detective March asked Maclin
about this, Maclin replied that the injury occurred two weeks
earlier but that he did not remember how it happened.
Id. Detective March did not notice any blood on
Maclin’s shirt. Id.
Testimony of Medical Examiner Mitra Kalelkar
Mitra Kalelkar testified that she is a forensic pathologist
and the one who conducted McGhee’s autopsy.
Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 652. Dr. Kalelkar stated that
the cause of McGhee’s death was internal bleeding as a
result of a stab wound to the left side of his neck.
Id. She concluded that McGhee’s death was a
testified in his own defense. He testified that on July 3,
2002, he was sitting in a white van in the area of Adams
Street and Western Avenue, smoking crack cocaine with a
friend named “Willie.” Maclin, 12 N.E.3d
at 652. Maclin stated that he saw McGhee in the area and
approached him. Id. Maclin asked McGhee if he had
the money that he owed Maclin. Id. Maclin stated
that McGhee looked at him in an angry way and that he felt
scared. Id. Maclin again asked McGhee about the
money, and McGhee became “indignant.”
Id. McGhee stated that he did not owe Maclin any
money, nor would he give Maclin any money. Id.
Maclin testified that he backed away from McGhee because
McGhee had several people with him. Id. at 652-53.
McGhee then came toward Maclin “in a manner like he was
getting ready to reach out.” Id. Maclin
testified that he was scared and reacted by hitting McGhee.
Id. Maclin then went back to the white van, got into
the driver’s seat, and smoked another bag of crack
cocaine with Willie. Id.
little later, McGhee was standing next to the driver’s
side of the white van. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 653.
McGhee asked Maclin to get out. Id. As Maclin opened
the van door, he felt a sharp sting in the area of his
armpit, as if he was “being stuck with
something.” Id. Maclin looked down and noticed
McGhee pulling his hand back. Id. Maclin saw
something in McGhee’s hand but could not tell what it
was. Id. Maclin testified that he fell back into the
van and picked up his knife from the seat. Id.
Maclin then noticed a toolbox on the floor of the
driver’s side of the van. Id. Maclin stated
that he grabbed the toolbox to use as a shield. Id.
testified that he stepped outside the white van with the
toolbox in his right hand and the knife in his left.
Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 653. He backed up toward
Western Avenue to get away from McGhee because McGhee had
several friends with him. Id. As Maclin walked away,
he noticed McGhee following him, so Maclin stopped and turned
toward McGhee. Id. McGhee also stopped and was about
15 or 20 feet away from Maclin. Id. Maclin began
walking again, but soon noticed McGhee jogging toward him.
Id. Maclin turned toward McGhee and said “man
leave me alone.” Id. Maclin began walking
again and turned around to see where McGhee’s friends
were; they were standing back, but McGhee was standing right
in front of Maclin. Id. Maclin testified that McGhee
stepped back and the two men got tangled and fell.
Id. Maclin fell on top of McGhee and noticed that
McGhee was holding an object resembling a screwdriver.
Id. Maclin grabbed McGhee’s hands and put his
knees on McGhee’s arms. Id. Maclin testified
that “next think [sic] I know, [Beck] is standing
there.” Id. Beck told the two men to
“stop all of this” and to “give me those
things.” Id. Maclin testified that he handed
the knife to Beck and began to get off McGhee, but noticed
that McGhee still had an object in his hand. Id.
Maclin grabbed McGhee’s hand and Beck took the object
from McGhee. Id. Maclin then got off of McGhee and
walked away; McGhee walked in the other direction.
Id. Maclin testified that Beck yelled
“somebody is bleeding.” Id. At that
time, Maclin did not know McGhee had been stabbed.
also testified that he sat in a park until morning because he
lived at Woodside Manor and the doors were locked for the
night. Maclin, 12 N.E.3d at 653. Woodside Manor is a
health care and assisted living facility in Chicago Heights,
Illinois. Id. At 6:30 a.m. on July 3, 2002, Maclin
took the bus to St. James Hospital to have his wound treated.
Id. Maclin testified that his wound was flushed and
bandaged, and that he was given medication. Id.
Maclin was then released from the hospital. Id.
After he arrived back home at Woodside Manor, Maclin went to
see “Nurse Mary.” Id. Maclin stated that
Nurse Mary works at Woodside Manor and fills prescriptions
for patients. Id. Nurse Mary looked at
Maclin’s wound and gave him medication. Id.
Later in the day on ...