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Young v. Varga

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

January 27, 2017

STEPHEN YOUNG, Petitioner,
v.
JOHN VARGA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN United States District Court Judge.

         Stephen Young petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus based on alleged constitutional defects in his conviction and sentence. For the reasons set forth below, Young's petition [5] is denied.

         Background

         Because Young does not present clear and convincing evidence challenging the facts set forth in the Illinois Appellate Court's opinion, those facts are presumed to be correct for the purpose of habeas review and are adopted as set forth below. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Rever v. Acevedo, 590 F.3d 533, 537 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Following a bench trial, Young was found guilty of heinous battery, aggravated domestic battery, and aggravated battery. Young was sentenced to concurrent terms of six, three, and two years in prison, respectively, with corresponding terms of mandatory supervised release. At trial, the victim, Christopher Hall, testified that he had dated Young for three years, but that their relationship had ended in 2009. On March 21, 2010 at 10:45 a.m., Hall testified that he heard someone knocking on the back door of his house. When he answered the door, he testified that Young was at the door wearing his work uniform. Young and Hall argued, and Hall told Young that he did not have time to talk to him. At that point, Young reached into his right jacket pocket, removed a small bottle, and splashed the contents of the bottle onto Hall's neck, back, shoulder, and chest. Young then fled the scene. Hall testified that the liquid in the bottle caused a burning sensation where it had contacted his skin. He called 911, and was subsequently transported to the hospital.

         At trial, Hall further testified that after the preliminary hearing, he had gone to the Cook County Jail to visit Young. Hall explained that Young looked like he had been in a fight. Hall stated that he had still had feelings for Young at that time, and accordingly had tried to help him get out of jail by writing Young a letter attributing the attack to Young's cousin “Jonathan.” At trial, however, Hall reaffirmed that it was in fact Young who had attacked him.

         The responding police officer testified that Hall had told her that he was attacked by Young, and had given her his description and address. The officer also testified that she had found an empty red box labelled for the disinfectant Creolin in the yard of Hall's house.

         The responding paramedic testified that when he arrived at the incident, Hall was wearing a shirt that was soiled and emanating a foul odor. He observed that Hall was in pain and had redness around his neck. After Hall's shirt was removed, the paramedic observed that Hall had suffered first degree burns on his chest, back, and arm.

         The parties stipulated that, if called to testify, the emergency room doctor who treated Hall would testify that Hall presented with chemical burns and acidosis covering his left shoulder, mid upper back, left neck, posterior upper arm, and left elbow region, caused by a liquid disinfectant named Creolin. The doctor would also have testified that Hall had informed him that he was assaulted by his ex-boyfriend with a bottle containing a chemical. Finally, the doctor would have testified that he diagnosed Hall with “first degree burns which were caused by a chemical agent, ” which was consistent with the version of events given by Hall.

         The defense presented the testimony of Young's supervisor that on March 21, 2010 Young was working as a patrolling security officer at the Northwestern Women's Hospital. The supervisor explained that patrol officers move throughout the building to which they are assigned and that a computer system logs when each officer uses their ID card to open electronic locks in the hospital.

         On the day in question, he testified that Young had swiped his card 13 times between 7:06 AM and 2:48 PM. On cross-examination, however, he admitted that Young's card had not been swiped between 8:22 AM and 11:36 AM. The state then asked the court to take judicial notice of the distance from the hospital to Hall's house, which was approximately 17 miles.

         The trial court found Hall guilty of heinous battery, aggravated domestic battery, and aggravated battery. In doing so, the trial court acknowledged Hall's conflicting statement in his letter to Young but stated that it believed Young had committed the crime. With respect to the alibi, the trial court stated:

There is no doubt there is certainly a window and I did take judicial notice of the distance. I'm familiar with the area downtown and I'm familiar with the area of Bellwood and there's a three-hour window here for travel. 8:22 was a swipe and the next swipe is not until 11:36. We're talking even more than three hours.

         The trial court accordingly rejected the partial alibi evidence and found that ...


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