United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Durkin, United States District Judge.
Santiago was convicted after a jury trial of first degree
murder and unlawful discharge of a weapon. See R. 1
at 1. He is serving consecutive prison terms of 30 and 25
years at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois,
where he is in the custody of Warden Randy
Pfister. See Id. at 7. Santiago seeks a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
See R. 1. The Warden has answered the petition
seeking its dismissal. R. 6. For the following reasons,
Santiago's petition is dismissed and the Court declines
to issue a certificate of appealability.
Santos, a gang member, was murdered on December 28, 2006.
Miguel Adorno and Martin Logan, members of a rival gang, were
arrested shortly thereafter and each gave statements to the
police, which were videotaped. Adorno told police that he and
Santiago were in the same gang, and that Santiago had an
ongoing feud with Santos. On December 28, Santiago's gang
and Santos's gang had been fighting. Later that day,
Santiago, Adorno, Logan, and other members of their gang met
at Santiago's house. Santiago received a phone call from
his girlfriend, Lisa, who is also the mother of Santos's
child. Adorno overheard Santiago tell Lisa, “stop
putting my name in shit, bitch, ‘cuz you're going
to see what's going to happen to him.” Santiago got
a gun and left with Adorno, Logan and the others to find
members of Santos's gang to fight with. They found Santos
and another member of his gang, Rene Otero, at the corner of
Armitage and Tripp. Adorno and Logan struck Santos, knocking
him to the ground. Santiago then shot Santos twice in the
head. The details of Logan's statement were essentially
the same as Adorno's.
and Logan both pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in
connection with Santos's death. They both gave testimony
at their plea hearings that was substantially similar to the
statements they had previously given to police. At
Santiago's trial, however, they testified that they could
not remember their prior statements and testimony. Instead,
they testified that Santiago was not present during
Santos's murder and that another member of their gang
named “Casper” had killed Santos. Nevertheless,
Adorno's and Logan's prior statements were admitted
substantively at trial.
of Santiago's fellow gang members, Carlos Garcia,
testified that he participated in the fight that resulted in
Santos's murder. He testified that he saw Santiago during
the fight in possession of a gun. He also saw Santiago walk
toward Santos while Santos was on the ground. Garcia then
heard gunshots but did not see the shots being fired.
also testified that he saw Santiago armed with a gun. Like
Garcia, he saw Santos on the ground, and heard, but did not
see, the shooting.
counsel, Santiago made two claims on direct appeal: (1)
“the State's introduction of two separate prior
statements by both Miguel Adorno and Martin Logan was
improper because it was cumulative and unduly bolstered their
statements”; and (2) evidence that Adorno and Logan
pled guilty “should have been excluded because it
improperly suggested to the jury” that Santiago was
also guilty. R. 7-3 at i-ii. Santiago conceded that he had
not preserved these issues in the trial court. Id.
at 33. But he argued that the appellate court should excuse
his forfeiture of these issues under Illinois's plain
error rule. The appellate court stated that “[p]lain
error review is warranted when the evidence is closely
balanced or the unpreserved errors deprived the defendant of
fundamental fairness.” People v. Santiago, 949
N.E.2d 290, 293 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 2011) (citing
People v. Herron, 830 N.E.2d 467 (Ill. 2005)).
Applying that rule, the appellate court held that the
evidence presented at Santiago's trial was not closely
balanced, and that Santiago had not identified any error at
trial. See Santiago, 949 N.E.2d at 293. Thus, the
appellate court held that Santiago's forfeiture of the
issues he raised on appeal should not be excused.
Id. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Santiago's
petition for leave to appeal. See R. 7-7.
then filed a pro se postconviction petition in the circuit
court raising multiple claims, only two of which he continued
to raise in the appellate court. See R. 7-23 at
44-53. On an appeal made through counsel, Santiago's
postconviction claims were reduced to the following: (1)
“trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present
Santiago's parents [as] alibi witnesses;” and (2)
“trial counsel was ineffective for not calling witness
Annette Vega[, ] [who was present during the fight, and] who
failed to identify Santiago in a police lineup, ”
despite referring to her in his opening statement.
See R. 7-8. The appellate court held that Santiago
could not establish prejudice from trial counsel's
failure to call his parents as witnesses because, in light of
the statements or testimony from Adorno, Logan, Garcia, and
Otero that Santiago was present during the fight, there was
not a “reasonable probability” that the testimony
of Santiago's parents that he was with them at the time
of the fight would have “changed the outcome of the
proceedings.” People v. Santiago, 2014 WL
3002498, ¶ 22 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. June 30, 2014). The
appellate court explained further that “there is no
reasonable probability that a jury would have believed
[Santiago's] assertion that he was not even at the crime
scene given the substantial evidence showing, to the
contrary, that he was not only at the scene, but was guilty
of shooting the victim in the head.” Id.
appellate court also rejected Santiago's claim regarding
trial counsel's failure to call Vega because Santiago
“failed to include a sworn affidavit by Vega showing
her potential testimony, availability, and [Santiago] did not
explain his failure to attach such an affidavit, ” as
is required by 725 ILCS 5/122-2. The appellate court held
further that the “police report stating that Vega
viewed [a] lineup and was unable to make a positive
identification of the shooter is not in and of itself enough
to meet the requirements” of 725 ILCS 5/122-2.
Id. ¶ 23.
petition to this Court makes the following 18 claims:
(1) “Due Process: trial court denied motion to
determine reliability of witnesses[;] State obtained grand
jury indictment through perjury/fabricated testimony[;]
State, at trial, made improper arguments to jury. Court
denied motion to determine reliability of witnesses and prior
inconsistent statements were sole evidence of Defendant's
guilt at trial”;
(2) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call