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Robertson v. Butler

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

August 30, 2016

TIMOTHY D. ROBERTSON, R52633 Petitioner,
v.
KIM BUTLER, Warden, Menard Correctional Center, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Marvin E. Aspen United States District Judge

         Presently before us is a pro se motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to vacate, set aside, or correct the conviction rendered against Timothy D. Robertson (“Petitioner”) in February 2006, and the sentence rendered against him in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois in May 2006. For the reasons set forth below, we deny Petitioner's request for habeas relief.

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         We begin with a review of the factual background of Petitioner's conviction and the procedural history of his appeal.

         I. Robertson's Conviction

         In February 2006, a jury in the Circuit Court of Lake County found Petitioner guilty of first degree murder and felony murder. (Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. G, Post-conviction Appeal Order, People v. Robertson, No. 2-12-0250 (Ill.App.Ct. 2013) at 1.) During a drug transaction, Petitioner punched and kicked the victim Jonny Tate (“Tate”) multiple times. (Id. at 2.) Tate's date, Angela Roberts (“Roberts”), and two residents of the apartment building where the incident occurred witnessed the fight. (Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. A, Direct Appeal Order, People v. Robertson, No. 2-06-0619 (Ill.App.Ct. 2008) at 2.) All three witnesses testified that Tate attempted to escape, but Petitioner continued to follow him and punch him in the chest and head. (Id.) Tate later died due to his head injuries. (Id. at 3.) Petitioner was apprehended at the scene. (Id. at 3.) Roberts testified that Petitioner told her that he wanted to “break some bones [that night].” (Post-conviction Appeal Order at 2.) Petitioner claimed Tate hit him first. (Id.)

         At Petitioner's trial, an evidence technician testified that he saw what he believed to be blood on Petitioner's shoes, pants and hand, but did not analyze the blood evidence in the lab. (Id.) At trial, Petitioner's attorney faulted the State for not having the blood tested. (Id. at 4.)

         Petitioner was found guilty and was sentenced on May 16, 2006 to thirty-four years in prison. (Id.)

         II. Direct Appeal

         On July 23, 2007, Petitioner filed an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court. (State Ct. R., Ex. C, Pet'r Direct Appeal Br. at 2.) In that appeal, Petitioner challenged the trial court's sentencing decision. (Id. at 1.) On May 12, 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's conviction. (Direct Appeal Order at 1.)

         Petitioner then filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal (“PLA”) to the Illinois Supreme Court, again raising his sentencing arguments. (Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. E, Direct Appeal PLA at 3.) On September 24, 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for an appeal. (Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. E, Order Denying Direct Appeal PLA at 3.)

         III. State Post-conviction Proceedings

         Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court of Lake County alleging for the first time that he was entitled to relief due to: (1) his trial counsel's failure to seek suppression of Petitioner's statements to the police; (2) his trial counsel's failure to perform DNA testing on Petitioner's bloody pants; (3) his appellate counsel's failure to raise the issue of his trial counsel's ineffectiveness regarding the bloody pants, and (4) his appellate counsel's decision to not raise on appeal hearsay issues at sentencing. (Post-conviction Appeal Order at 2.) The trial court appointed post-conviction appellate counsel for Petitioner. (Id.) The State moved to dismiss the claims, and the trial court granted the motion. (Id.)

         Petitioner appealed the denial of his post-conviction relief to the Illinois Appellate Court, raising the same issues regarding the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and appellate counsel. (Id.) He reiterated the claims he made in the original post-conviction petition, but dropped the claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for not addressing on appeal hearsay issues at sentencing. (Id.) The Appellate Court affirmed the state court decision. (Id. at 1.)

         Finally, Petitioner filed a PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court, which again raised his ineffective assistance of trial claims but dropped his ineffective assistance of appellate counsel assertions. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the PLA on March 26, 2014. (Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. K, Post-conviction PLA at 3-6; Dkt. No. 17, State Ct. R., Ex. L, Order Denying Post-conviction PLA at 1.)

         IV. Federal Habeas Petition

         On May 7, 2014, Petitioner filed a federal habeas petition, asserting the following four claims:

Claim A: Petitioner was deprived of his right to due process because the prosecution failed to show whose blood was on his jeans, and therefore, the state failed to prove ...

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