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Brown v. Melvin

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

November 21, 2017

Patrick Brown, R27588, Petitioner,
v.
Michael Melvin, Acting Warden, Pontiac Correctional Center, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Philip G. Reinhard Judge

         For the following reasons, petitioner's amended 28 U.S.C. § 2254 motion [21] is denied. The court declines to issue a certificate of appealability. This matter is terminated.

         STATEMENT-OPINION

         On January 16, 2015, petitioner Patrick Brown filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 motion challenging his state court sentence. See [1]. On March 2, 2015, the court stayed these proceedings pending petitioner's resolution of his state court proceedings. See [8]. The court lifted the stay on March 17, 2016, after finding that petitioner's state law proceedings had ended, and also allowed petitioner to file an amended petition that would “supersede” his original petition. See [20]. Petitioner filed an amended petition on April 11, 2016. See [21]. Respondent filed an answer to the petition on July 29, 2016 [27], along with the state court record [28]. Petitioner requested that an additional affidavit be placed into the record [30], which the court granted [31]. Petitioner filed a reply on December 5, 2016. See [35]. These matters are now ripe for the court's review. The court will first discuss the relevant factual and procedural background before analyzing petitioner's various claims.

         I. Factual and Procedural History.

         The following findings of facts are drawn from the state record. See [28]. On October 19, 2001, following a dispute over a drug sale, petitioner beat Britton Tullock to death with a metal bar. On October 20, 2001, petitioner was arrested and confessed to murdering Tullock. Petitioner was ultimately charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and the case proceeded to a jury trial in Winnebago County, Illinois.

         A. Evidence at Trial.

         Following his arrest, petitioner provided written and oral confessions to the police. Petitioner informed the officers that on October 19, 2001, he and his accomplice Brian Johnson had met with Tullock in petitioner's garage. The purpose of the meeting was for Johnson to purchase crack cocaine from Tullock, but Tullock grew angry that the two did not have sufficient money to purchase the drugs. Tullock attacked petitioner, who then grabbed a metal pry bar and struck Tullock repeatedly on the head. At some point, Johnson stabbed Tullock. While there was some evidence that petitioner may have made oral statements to the effect that prior to attacking Tullock, Tullock gestured as though he were reaching into his coat for a gun, petitioner's written statements do not mention Tullock reaching for a gun. Petitioner and Johnson then placed Tullock's body in Tullock's car, and Johnson moved the car to a different location while petitioner removed incriminating evidence from the scene.

         Petitioner and Johnson attempted to leave town by vehicle when they were stopped by police officers, who recovered from the vehicle 24.5 grams of cocaine, blood-stained carpeting, bloody sheets, a metal bar, a knife, and several articles of damp clothing that smelled like bleach. Petitioner and Johnson were arrested and petitioner ultimately confessed to killing Tullock.

         In addition to the evidence above, the state presented photographs indicating that petitioner suffered no wounds following Tullock's killing, and that Tullock sustained blunt force trauma to his head, face, neck, and extremities, and also was stabbed in his upper body. A medical examiner testified that Tullock's blunt force injuries were fatal and consistent with being beaten with a metal bar.

         Petitioner did not testify. His trial counsel relied on defendant's oral statements, however, to argue that petitioner only attacked Tullock in self defense after seeing Tullock reach for a gun.

         The jury found petitioner guilty of first-degree murder accompanied by brutal and heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. The trial court sentenced petitioner to life imprisonment.

         B. Direct Appeal.

         On direct appeal, petitioner made two arguments:

(1) The trial court abused its discretion by admitting autopsy photographs that depicted Tullock's knife wounds;
(2) In closing argument, the prosecutor misstated Illinois law regarding the required mental state for second-degree murder.

         The appellate court affirmed petitioner's conviction. Petitioner filed a pro se PLA petition, arguing that in closing argument the prosecutor misstated Illinois law regarding the required mental state for second-degree murder. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the PLA on September 27, 2006.

         C. First Post-conviction Petition.

         In 2007, petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition that, ...


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