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Winfield v. Dorethy

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 13, 2017

Gerald Winfield, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Stephanie Dorethy, Warden, Respondent-Appellant.

          Argued February 8, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 10 C 4878 - Sharon Johnson Coleman, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, Flaum, Circuit Judge, and Conley, District Judge. [*]

          Conley, District Judge.

         On July 25, 2000, after a four-day bench trial, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Leo E. Holt found Gerald Winfield guilty of the attempted murder of Jarlon Garrett. On direct appeal and again on post-conviction review, the Illinois appellate courts rejected Winfield's challenges to his conviction and thirty-year prison sentence. By agreement of the parties, a federal district court later reviewed Winfield's conviction under a less deferential standard than called for after the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), and granted Winfield's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), the state then sought to reverse its concession that the pre-AEDPA standard applied, which the district court understandably denied as waived. Nevertheless, we are compelled by AEDPA case law and principles of state comity to reverse the district court's finding of waiver.

         I. Background

         A. Trial

         The state called two individuals who testified to witnessing the shooting of Jarlon Garrett and Dominick Stovall on October 17, 1998. Stovall died of his wounds, but Garrett survived and also testified about his recollection of the events that day.

         Of these three eyewitnesses, the state trial judge found that Lonnie Hartman was "[t]he only real credible witness." Hartman testified that he was sitting in his own car when a black car pulled up about thirty feet away from him, after which a black male got out, began shooting at Garrett and Stovall, then jumped back into the car and fled. According to Hartman, the shooter was at least six feet tall and wore no mask or anything else on his head. Still, Hartman could not identify Winfield as the shooter.

         The second eyewitness, Lorenzo Curry, testified that from his vantage point on the porch of a nearby house, he saw Win-field and another, unidentified individual get out of a black car and begin shooting at Stovall and Garrett. Curry further offered a possible motive for the shooting, testifying that he was present at a dice game in August of 1998, along with Garrett, Stovall, Winfield and his younger brother, Terrance Win-field. During this game, Curry testified that an argument ensued after Terrance bumped Stovall, causing him to drop the dice and, Stovall claimed, unfairly affecting his roll. However, the trial judge found Curry's credibility "worthless" in light of "extensive impeachment." In particular, the judge found Curry's trial testimony inconsistent with his earlier grand jury testimony and statements to the police in several, material respects, including the number of shooters, whether he could identify the shooters and whether the shooters were wearing masks.

         Finally, Garrett, the surviving victim, corroborated Curry's testimony about the dice game, testifying that Stovall and Winfield began arguing over whether Stovall could attempt his roll again. As for the shooting, Garrett testified that a black car pulled up beside Stovall and him, at which point Winfield emerged, pulled a mask over his face and began shooting at them. The trial judge found Garrett's credibility "not much better" than Curry's, since he did not identify Winfield as the shooter at "the earliest opportunity, " including when Detective Kaizer and his partner interviewed Garrett while he was receiving treatment at the hospital.

          Instead, Winfield became a suspect only after Curry and Garrett identified him as the shooter from a photo array. Following his arrest, Curry and Garrett also repeatedly identified Winfield in separate lineups. Winfield then gave an oral statement to Detective Kaizer around 10:00 p.m. on December 13, 1998.

         Detective Kaizer then contacted Assistant State's Attorney Laura Forester, who prepared a written statement that Winfield signed at approximately 1:00 a.m. on December 14. The written statement, which was read into the record at trial, included a basic description of the events surrounding an argument at the dice game. Although Winfield reported that tensions had subsided within a week, the statement also reflected that members of Garrett's gang had beaten up his brother Terrance "a couple of weeks after the dice game." Moreover, the statement included Winfield's acknowledgement that he began to carry a gun in his waistband after Garrett shot at him "a couple of weeks" before the shooting on October 17, 1998.

         As for the events on that date, the statement indicated that Winfield got into a black car carrying fellow gang members, and when he spotted Stovall and Garrett, he and another passenger in the car jumped out and began shooting at them. According to the statement, Winfield tried to re-enter the car, but because it sped away before he could get back in, he ...


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