United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles Brackhan has filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. §
2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in
Federal Custody (d/e 1). Petitioner asserts that (1) he is
actually innocent of the offense of discharge of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 3); (2) his counsel provided
ineffective assistance by advising Petitioner that no defense
was available to the § 924(c) charge and by failing to
inform Petitioner of the elements necessary to secure a
§ 924(c) conviction; and (3) his guilty plea was
involuntary due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Because
Petitioner has waived or procedurally defaulted his claims
and is not otherwise entitled to relief, Petitioner's
Motion is DENIED.
2014, the grand jury returned an eight-count Superseding
Indictment against Petitioner. See United States v.
Brackhan, United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois, Case No. 13-30084 (hereinafter, Case
No. 13-30084), Superseding Indictment (d/e 11). On September
25, 2014, Petitioner pleaded guilty to Count 1, manufacturing
marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and
(b)(1)(D); Count 3, discharge of a firearm in furtherance of
a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c); and Count 5, being a drug user in possession of a
firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).
Plea Agreement, the parties agreed that the appropriate
sentence was a within guideline sentence on Counts 1 and 5 to
run concurrently and the mandatory minimum of 120 months on
Count 3 to run consecutively to Counts 1 and 5. Case No.
13-30084, Plea Agreement ¶ 16 (d/e 23). Because the Plea
Agreement was made pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C), the sentence
would be binding on the Court if the Court accepted the Plea
Agreement. Id. ¶¶ 3, 17.
Change of Plea hearing before United States Magistrate Judge
Tom Schanzle-Haskins, Petitioner was placed under oath and
advised that his answers were subject to the penalty of
perjury. Case No. 13-30084, Change of Plea Transcript at 4
(d/e 46). Petitioner agreed that he had ample opportunity to
discuss his case with his counsel and was satisfied with
counsel's representation. Tr. at 6-7. Petitioner affirmed
that he had an opportunity to discuss with counsel the
charges in the Indictment to which he was pleading guilty.
Schanzle-Haskins asked the prosecutor to explain the elements
of the offenses. The prosecutor explained that Count 3 had
First, the defendant committed the conduct charged in Count 1
of the superseding indictment;
Second, that he knowingly possessed the firearm;
Third, his possession of the firearm was in furtherance of
the marijuana manufacturing as alleged in Count 1; and
Fourth, that the defendant discharged the firearm during the
commission of the offense as stated in Counts 1 and 3.
When Judge Schanzle-Haskins asked Petitioner if he understood
the elements, Petitioner responded, “Yes, Your
Honor.” Tr. at 8. After the prosecutor stated the
possible penalties and Petitioner stated that he understood
the possible penalties, Judge Schanzle-Haskins asked
Petitioner if he had any questions about the nature of the
charges or the possible penalties. Petitioner stated,
“No, Your Honor.” Tr. 10.
Schanzle-Haskins advised Petitioner of his rights, and
Petitioner waived those rights. Tr. 10-15. Petitioner denied
that anyone made any promises or assurances other than what
was contained in the Plea Agreement. Tr. 15. Petitioner
affirmed that he was pleading guilty of his own free will
because he was guilty. Tr. 15.
Judge Schanzle-Haskins asked the prosecutor to state what the
evidence would be at trial, the prosecutor read the factual
basis and stipulation of facts contained on pages 8, 9, and
10 of the Plea Agreement. In sum, Petitioner admitted that he
manufactured marijuana at 26959 Sweetwater Avenue in
Greenville, Illinois, periodically stayed at the Sweetwater
property to tend his marijuana grow, kept a firearm for
protection while at the property, and shot an individual who
broke into the property intending to steal marijuana plants:
[O]n or about March 19th of 2013, law enforcement responded
to a shots-fired call to defendant's property,
specifically 26959 Sweetwater Avenue, Greenview, Illinois.
Nobody answered the door when they arrived, but officers
observed several marijuana plants in a vehicle parked in the
As they began interviewing witnesses about what happened that
night, officers learned that three individuals-namely Donald
Roach, Chance Williams, and Aaron Fehl-went to the
defendant's property intending to steal plants from the
defendant's marijuana grow inside the residence.
Aaron Fehl broke into the residence with a firearm. The
defendant was sta[y]ing inside the residence at the time.
During an exchange of gunfire inside the house, the defendant
shot and killed Fehl with a Kel-Tec 9 millimeter handgun
bearing serial number ANP73.
When officers later entered the defendant's residence,
they found several items indicative of a marijuana grow
operation in two of the rooms in the house and recovered