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Campbell v. Korte

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

December 29, 2017

JEFFREY KORTE, Respondent.


          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Alonso Campbell brings a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his convictions entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Petitioner is serving a 28-year sentence for the first-degree murder of Terrance Smith. For the following reasons, this Court denies the Petition, and declines to issues a certificate of appealability.

         I. Legal Standard

         Federal review of state-court decisions under § 2254 is limited. With respect to a state court's determination of an issue on the merits, habeas relief can be granted only if the decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, ” or “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2); Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 100 (2011). This Court presumes that the state court's account of the facts is correct, and Petitioner bears “the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Coleman v. Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2012).

         State prisoners must also give state courts “one full opportunity” to resolve any constitutional issues by “invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). If a petitioner asserts a claim for habeas relief that he did not present in the first instance to the state courts, then the claim is procedurally defaulted. Byers v. Basinger, 610 F.3d 980, 985 (7th Cir. 2010) (federal courts may not address those claims unless the petitioner demonstrates cause and prejudice or a fundamental miscarriage of justice if the claims are ignored).

         II. Background and Procedural History

         The facts and procedural posture from the state court are summarized below. This Court presumes the correctness of the state court's factual determinations for the purposes of habeas review, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), because Petitioner has failed to contest them or otherwise point to any clear and convincing contrary evidence.

         A. Pre-Trial Proceedings

         On May 25, 2007, Petitioner murdered Terrance Smith in a drive-by shooting as the victim sat in a sedan with an individual named Alvin Lane. [12-1] at 36-37. Two days later, Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Emily Stevens and Detective Thomas Crain visited Alvin Lane in the hospital, and he said that he saw either a gun in the backseat of the SUV or the Petitioner holding a gun, and that he also recalled gunfire coming from the front seat of the SUV. Id.

         Subsequently, the State charged Petitioner along with Shantrell Tucker, and Antonio Cox, with the first-degree murder of Smith. Id. at 3. In January 2008, the trial court set Petitioner and Tucker for trial on April 1, 2008. Id. at 4.

         In February and March 2008, the trial court held several status hearings regarding the prosecution's difficulty in serving certain witnesses. Id. at 4. On March 24, the trial court set another status date for April 1, 2008-the day on which trial had set to begin-because Petitioner's counsel failed to appear. Id. When the parties met on April 1, the prosecution advised the trial court that they were still not prepared for trial due to difficulty in procuring witnesses, and Tucker's counsel demanded trial. Id. Two weeks later, Petitioner's counsel also demanded a trial.

         In June 2008, the court granted the prosecution's motion for an extension of time under the Illinois Speedy Trial Act to locate a witness, Lukenia Strong. Id. at 5. Several days later, counsel for both defendants stipulated that the prosecution exercised due diligence in attempting to find Strong, but they also objected to the continuance because they saw no reasonable likelihood that the State could ever procure her appearance. Id. at 5-6.

         B. Trial

         The joint trial (Petitioner and Cox) commenced on August 7, 2007. Id. at 6. At trial, Jennifer Walls testified that on the evening of Smith's murder, she and Steve Wooten were outside speaking to three men in a red Monte Carlo (Lane, Smith, and Jennifer's brother, Vernon Walls) when an SUV pulled up next to the Monte Carlo, and Jennifer took a phone call. Id. at 6-7. When that phone call ended, Jennifer heard gunshots coming from the SUV and saw that Smith and Lane had been shot. Id. Consistent with her statements to detectives the day after the shooting, Jennifer identified Tucker as the SUV's driver and Petitioner as the backseat passenger during her in-court testimony. [12-2] at 9.

         Vernon testified that when the SUV pulled up next to the Monte Carlo, Tucker asked whether Lane knew anything about his van being “shot up.” Id. at 10. Then two guns were drawn in the SUV and began to fire into the Monte Carlo. Id. When he spoke to police after the incident, Vernon identified Tucker as the SUV's driver, but did not identify ...

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