United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Tharp, Jr. United States District Judge
Williams was convicted by a jury of felony murder and
sentenced to 43 years in prison for that crime. Resp. Ex. A
at 175; People v. Williams, No. 1-08-0907, 2011 WL
9548458, at *1 (Ill.App.Ct. Mar. 7, 2011). He now petitions
for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In
his pro se petition, Williams contends that his
rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments were
violated when the state elicited, and used in closing
argument, testimony implying that his non-testifying
co-defendants had implicated him. Williams alleges this
testimony violated Bruton v. United States and
Crawford v. Washington. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court denies the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
federal habeas petitioner is in custody pursuant to a state
court adjudication, the state court's factual findings
are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts that
presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); Thompkins v. Pfister, 698 F.3d
976, 983 (7th Cir. 2012). Williams has not alleged any
factual errors by the state court. Therefore, the following
facts are primarily drawn from the state appellate court
opinion. People v. Williams, No. 1-08-0907,
2011 WL 9548458 (Ill.App.Ct. Mar. 7, 2011)
(“Williams”). Facts not mentioned in the
state court's opinion are taken from the transcripts of
the state court proceedings.
April 17, 2003, Carl Mays, Donnell Mersier, and Ricardo Garr
drove together from Detroit to Chicago to engage in a scheme
to cash money orders illegally through currency
exchanges. Williams at *1. The men drove to
the intersection of 63rd Street and Loomis Boulevard to
recruit people to help them with the scheme. Id.
Jessie Williams (“Williams”), along with Eric
Williams (“Eric”) and Perry Higgins, approached
Mays to participate in the scheme. Id. Mays turned
away Williams and Eric as being too young. Id. Mays
successfully recruited Higgins as well as two women named
Diane and Felicia. Id. at *2.
night, after the crew had obtained thousands of dollars from
currency exchanges in the area, Williams and Eric robbed
Garr, Mays, and Mercier when they returned to the area around
63rd and Loomis. Shortly after dropping off Diane, Felicia,
and Higgins, Garr pulled over because Mersier was trying to
make a phone call but was having trouble getting a signal on
his cell phone. Id. Mays was sitting in the front
passenger seat. Id. While the trio was parked on
63rd Street, Eric knocked on the front passenger window of
the van and then opened the front passenger side door while
Williams opened the side doors. Id. Eric produced a
gun and demanded money from the van's occupants. Williams
reached into Mersier's pockets and removed money, while
Eric took money from Mays. Id. Eric attempted to
order Mays out of the car, hitting him with the gun, while
Williams stood next to him. Williams at *2. Mersier
moved across the seat and hit Eric in the face. Id.
Eric fired one shot at Mersier, hitting him in the chest.
Id. Eric and Williams then ran away. Id.
Garr and Mays drove Mersier a hospital but he died of the
gunshot wound. Id. at *2. After dropping Mersier at
the hospital, Garr and Mays drove back to Detroit.
in the area heard the gunshot and gave chase to two men. One,
later determined to be Williams, escaped but police caught
Eric. Subsequent investigation (more on this in a moment) led
them to Williams, who was arrested on June 4, 2003.
Id. at *4. Williams was tried for first degree
murder and armed robbery.
number of witnesses testified at trial against Williams. Mays
and Garr both testified in exchange for not being prosecuted
for the money order scheme. Williams at *2. They
testified in detail about the events of that day, including
the shooting. Mays further testified that, two days after the
shooting, he identified Williams in a photograph array.
Id. Garr identified Williams in a lineup on June 6,
2003, shortly after Williams' arrest. Id. at *4.
Diane Perkins, one of the recruited participants in the
scheme, testified that she saw Williams standing outside the
van, saw him go in and out of the van, and heard a gunshot
from the direction of the van. Id. at *3. Diane
admitted at trial that she did not mention the gunshot or
Williams until her second interview with police. Id.
Police officer Leroy Horton further testified that he had
been on patrol the night of the murder and had heard a
gunshot and seen two men backing away from a white van.
Id. He was able to generally describe the height,
build, and complexion of the men he saw. Finally, a forensic
scientist testified that a palm print found on the van
matched Williams' palm print. Resp. Ex. H at 32.
argument Williams advances in his petition comes from an
exchange between the prosecutor and Detective Timothy
O'Brien. O'Brien interviewed Eric several times after
he was arrested and was responsible for much of the
investigation of the murder. Williams at *3-4. The
challenged testimony proceeded as follows:
Q: And did you have occasion to speak with Eric Williams at
the temporary headquarters of Area One at that time?
A: Several occasions.
Q: Now, at some point approximately four o'clock in the
morning, did you leave Area One?
* * *
Q: Where did you go?
A: The vicinity of 63rd and Loomis, 6351, if I'm not
* * *
Q: Why did you go to that location?
A: To look for some individuals.
Q: And did you have the name of the person you were looking
A: I had nicknames of Flash and Elbow.
Q: Did you in fact locate the person who answers to the
nickname of Flash at that location?
* * *
Q: Subsequent to speaking with Flash, did you have a
conversation with Eric Williams at approximately eight
o'clock that morning?
Q: And after speaking with Eric Williams, did you have
occasion to locate a picture?
Q: And of whom - whose picture did you locate at that time?
A: Picture of the Defendant, Jessie Williams.
Q: Do you see Jessie Williams in court today?
Q: Would you point him out and describe what he is wearing?
A: Sitting to the right of defense Counsel in a white shirt