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McCoy v. Korte

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

September 16, 2016

STEPHEN McCOY, Petitioner,
JEFF KORTE, Warden, Respondent.


          Gary Feinerman Judge

         Stephen McCoy, who is serving consecutive ten- and fifteen-year terms in Illinois state prison for attempted first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Doc. 1. McCoy seeks habeas relief on the grounds that the trial court unconstitutionally coerced the verdict by informing the jury that it could be sequestered, and that his trial and post-conviction attorneys were constitutionally ineffective for stipulating to certain facts and for failing to obtain a medical expert who could have cast a different light on those facts. McCoy's petition is denied, and the court will not issue a certificate of appealability.


         A federal habeas court presumes that the state courts' factual findings are correct unless they are rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Jean-Paul v. Douma, 809 F.3d 354, 360 (7th Cir. 2015) (“A state court's factual finding is unreasonable only if it ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.”) (internal quotation marks omitted); 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). The Appellate Court of Illinois is the last state court to have adjudicated McCoy's case on the merits. People v. McCoy, 2014 IL App (1st) 123279-U ( Ill. App. Oct. 30, 2014) (reproduced at Doc. 18-7); People v. McCoy, 939 N.E.2d 950 ( Ill. App. 2010). The following sets forth the facts as that court described them, as well as the procedural background of the state criminal and post-conviction proceedings.

         A. Factual Background and Trial

         McCoy shot Ernest Anderson and Curtis Chatman and was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, 720 ILCS 5/8-4, 9-1(a)(1), and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, 720 ILCS 5/12-4.2(a)(1). 939 N.E.2d at 951. The testimony at McCoy's trial presented conflicting accounts of the events preceding the shootings. Ibid. The prosecutor submitted that McCoy saw Anderson, called his name, and then, unprovoked, shot both him and Chatman, who was standing nearby. Ibid. McCoy submitted that he shot the two men in self-defense after Anderson, against whom McCoy's sister had testified in a murder trial eight years earlier, brandished a weapon. Ibid.

         It was undisputed that McCoy shot the two men, ibid., and the parties stipulated to a description of Anderson's and Chatman's wounds by Don Fishman, the emergency room physician who treated them. Doc. 18-16; Doc. 18-5 at ¶¶ 16-18. The stipulations stated that Anderson suffered “a through and through gunshot wound to his right shoulder, ” with one wound “present in the back upper right shoulder area” and a second “in [the] front upper right shoulder area.” Doc. 18-16 at ¶¶ 4-5. The actual stipulations regarding Chatman are not in the record, but McCoy's post-conviction counsel's statement of facts reports that the stipulations referenced two wounds, one “in the back of Chatman's head between the base of [the] skull and [the] lower neck, ” and the second “in the back of his head beneath the left ear.” Doc. 18-5 at ¶ 17.

         After hearing closing arguments and the court's instructions, the jury began deliberations at approximately 1:00 p.m. on September 27, 2007. 939 N.E.2d at 952. That afternoon, the jury sent two notes to the court, one asking for the “legal definition of intent to kill an individual, ” and the other for transcripts of McCoy's, Anderson's, and Chatman's testimony. Ibid. The court and the parties formulated a response to the first request and sent it to the jury, and then sent the transcripts to the jury. Ibid. At approximately 8:00 p.m., the court called the jury into the courtroom, leading to the following colloquy:

THE COURT: Let the record reflect we are in open court with the 12 jurors, defense attorney, the State's Attorney, and [defendant]. The time is now about 8:00 o'clock [sic]. Ms. Dohl, are you the foreperson?
THE COURT: The jury is still deliberating on their verdict?
THE COURT: It's 8:00 o'clock [sic] now. You've been deliberating for about seven hours. What I'm going to do is I'm going to call it quits for the night. So what we're going to do is my sheriffs have made arrangements, we're going to take you to a hotel and you'll be able to spend the night in the hotel and you will come back and deliberate in the morning.
[FOREPERSON] DOHL: Can you give us another half hour?
JURORS: We're close.
A JUROR: If we're not able to leave to go home, I have no way to contact a number of folks I need to contact before the morning.
THE COURT: All right. What I'm going to do, I'm going to bring you back in the jury room for a second. I'll bring you back out in about two ...

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