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Murdock v. Dorethy

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 3, 2017

Germill D. Murdock, Petitioner-Appellant,
Stephanie Dorethy, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued November 3, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 1:13-cv-01190-CSB-DGB - Colin S. Bruce, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Manion, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         In 2003, Petitioner Germill Murdock was convicted in Illinois state court of first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. In the context of his postconviction claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a suppression hearing was held to determine whether statements Petitioner made to the police were voluntary, given that Petitioner was 16 years old and gave the statements without an attorney or other adult present. The trial court held that his statements were voluntary and denied the motion to suppress. Both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that judgment. Petitioner then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied the petition, finding that the Illinois Supreme Court's decision was not unreasonable. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In October 2001, Petitioner was charged with first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated discharge of a firearm for his role in the death of Eric Eppinger and the wounding of Sam Clark, Jr. After two mistrials due to deadlocked juries, a third jury convicted Petitioner of the murder and aggravated battery charges.

         A. Trial and Petitioner's Statements to Police

         The evidence presented by the state established that on September 4, 2001, Petitioner drove Shereaf Fleming and Cortez Trapps to a park in Peoria, Illinois, where Fleming and Trapps shot and killed Eppinger and wounded Clark. The principal issue was whether Petitioner knew about or was a part of Fleming's and Trapps' plan to shoot Eppinger when he agreed to drive them to the park.

         Detective Michael Mushinsky of the Peoria Police Department gave the following testimony at trial: Approximately two weeks after the shooting, Petitioner, who was 16 years old, was involved in a traffic stop. Upon learning his identity, the officers brought him to the police station to question him about the shooting. When they arrived at the station, Mushinksy informed Petitioner that he was investigating Eppinger's murder and advised Petitioner of his Miranda rights. Petitioner stated that he understood his rights and agreed to speak with Mushinksy.

         Mushinksy told Petitioner what he knew about the case and asked Petitioner to tell him exactly what happened. Petitioner said that Trapps and Fleming told him that Eppinger was at Logan Park and that they wanted Petitioner to drive them there because they were going to shoot Eppinger. Petitioner told them he did not want to drive them, but he did so anyway. As they approached Logan Park, they saw Eppinger's car, and Fleming told Petitioner to park in a nearby alley. After Petitioner parked, Trapps and Fleming pulled their shirts over their faces, pulled out guns, and walked in the direction of Eppinger's car. After a minute, Petitioner heard gunshots and saw Trapps and Fleming running back to the van. Trapps and Fleming got back in the van and told Petitioner to drive away. As they drove, Trapps said he had killed Eppinger.

         After the initial interview with Mushinksy, Petitioner gave a written statement, which provided essentially the same information that Petitioner had told Mushinsky Petitioner wrote that he initially told Trapps and Fleming not to "go after" Eppinger, but that he drove them anyway. The written statement was entered into evidence at trial.

         After providing the statement, Petitioner signed a video release form and agreed to give a videotaped statement, which was also entered into evidence and played for the jury Mushinksy testified that he read Petitioner his Miranda rights again before recording the statement. On the recording, Mushinsky read Petitioner his Miranda rights once more and Petitioner stated that he understood and waived his rights. Petitioner stated that he was answering Mushinsky's questions voluntarily. He agreed that he had not been struck, abused, or threatened by anyone to obtain his statement and that no officer had made him any promises of immunity or leniency. He also stated that he had been allowed to go to the bathroom, eat, and drink if he needed.

         The recorded statement differed slightly from the written statement. On the recording, Petitioner said that when Trapps and Fleming asked him to drive them, they told him to "come on" and "not to worry about" where they were going. As they drove, Fleming stated that he knew that Eppinger was at Logan Park. As they approached the park and saw Eppinger parked in his car, Fleming said "we fixing to get him." Petitioner stated that prior to arriving at the park, neither Fleming nor Trapps said anything about shooting Eppinger. He stated that he saw the guns for the first time when he parked in the alley. Petitioner suspected that Trapps and Fleming brought the guns ...

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