United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CASTILLO CHIEF JUDGE.
Sherry Halligan, a prisoner confined at the Logan
Correctional Center, brings this counseled habeas corpus
action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging her 2003
murder conviction from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The
Court denies the petition on the merits, and declines to
issue a certificate of appealability.
Court draws the following factual history from the state
court record. (Diet. 12.) State court factual findings have a
presumption of correctness, and Petitioner has the burden of
rebutting the presumption by clear and convincing evidence.
Brumfield v. Cain, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2282 n.8 (2015)
(citing 28 U.S.C. 2254(e)(1)). Petitioner has not made such
shot and killed Dennis Campbell at her home in LaGrange,
Illinois, on January 31, 2003. Illinois v. Halligan,
2014IL App (1st) 131466, 2014 WL 4402830, at *1 (111. App.
Ct. Sept. 5, 2014) ''Halligan Direct
Appeal"). She confessed to the police the next day.
was indicted for murder in February 2003, and was placed on
bond. Id. She was examined by Dr. Jonathan Kelly, a
staff forensic psychologist employed by Cook County's
Forensic Clinical division. Id. Dr. Kelly concluded
that Petitioner was fit to stand trial, and legally sane at
the time of the killing. Id.
fled prior to a pretrial hearing in April 2004. Id.
She was a fugitive until her arrest in July 2010.
Id. She was found in Palos Hills, Illinois living
under the assumed name of "Katherine White."
Id. She had a different hair color and various forms
of identification for her alias. Id.
claimed at her bench trial that she killed Campbell in
self-defense. (Dkt. 12-11, pg. 12.) She explained that she
began dating Campbell in 1999. (Dkt. 12-12, pgs. 46-47.)
Campbell was six feet tall, 180 pounds, while Petitioner was
five feet two inches tall, and weighed 110 pounds.
Id. at 47. Petitioner described Campbell as
"Jekyll and Hyde, " with their relationship
alternating between sweet and romantic, and abusive.
Id. at 57.
said that Campbell abused her "many, many times."
Id. at 50. Campbell allegedly attempted to control
Petitioner by telling her what to do, where she could go, and
whom she could see. Id. at 48, 51-52. Additionally,
Campbell, who owned multiple guns, would point them at her.
Id. at 51.
incident, according to Petitioner, Campbell banged her head
on a wooden floor when she refused to have sex with him.
Id. at 49. Another time, when Campbell suspected
that Petitioner was cheating on him, he put her in the back
of his car trunk and drove her to the woods. Id. at
53-54. Campbell took her out of the trunk, and showed her a
hole he had dug. Id. at 54. According to Petitioner,
Campbell put her face in the hole, and told her this would be
her grave if she ever cheated on him again. Id.
relationship ended in December 2000, but Campbell allegedly
began stalking Petitioner. Id. at 5 5. The stalking
stopped in March 2001 when Campbell moved to Florida for a
job transfer. Id. at 56. Petitioner had no contact
with Campbell until the fall of 2002 when he wrote her love
letters. Id. at 57. Petitioner resumed contact with
Campbell in the fall of 2002, communicating with him by
telephone and email. Id.
and Campbell spent a day together in Illinois around
Christmas 2002. Id. at 58. She described the day as
"wonderful, " saying that Campbell was loving and
very apologetic. Id., at 59. She and Campbell had
consensual sex during this visit. Id. at 60.
Petitioner and Campbell continued communicating by emails and
phone calls between the Christmas 2002 visit until
Campbell's death on January 30, 2003. Id.
was in Illinois on January 30th for a work matter.
Halligan Direct Appeal, 2014 IL App (1st) 131466,
2014 WL 4402830, at *2. Petitioner met Campbell and his boss,
Mickey Kovacs, for dinner. (Diet. 12-12, pg. 61.) Campbell
allegedly asked Petitioner during dinner to have sex with
Kovacs, but she refused. Id. After dinner,
Petitioner and Campbell went back to Petitioner's hotel
room where they argued over Campbell's demand.
Id. at 64. Petitioner claims their argument was loud
enough that security kicked them out of the hotel.
Id. at 65.
and Campbell drove to Petitioner's nearby home.
Id. Petitioner's car was not at her house
because she had switched her car with her brother earlier
that day or a day before. Id. at 66.
claimed Campbell was "livid, " and "very,
very, angry with me, " and was red in the face as they
entered her home. Id. at 67. Petitioner testified
that Campbell attempted to attack her by her picking her up
by the shoulders, calling her a "rotten bitch, "
and threating to kill her. Id. at 69. Petitioner
grabbed a gun from a nearby shelf, and shot Petitioner five
times, Id. at 69-70.
did not call 911 after the shooting, instead staying in the
house for a period of time. Id. at 71. She explained
that she went upstairs, packed and then unpacked clothes, and
washed her hands. Id. She drove Campbell's car
back to the close-by hotel and walked home. Id. Once
back home, Petitioner covered Campbell's body with a
sheet, changed clothes, and placed her old clothes and the
gun in a white plastic bag. Halligan Direct Appeal,
2014 IL App (1st) 131466, 2014 WL 4402830, at *2. She drove
her brother's car two hours south on Interstate 55 before
throwing the bag out onto the interstate median. Id.
The LaGrange police would later retrace Petitioner's trip
down 1-55, but were unable to locate the white plastic bag
with Petitioner's gun and clothes. (Dkt. 12-11, pgs.
contacted her brother during her trip, and he hired an
attorney for Petitioner. Halligan Direct Appeal,
2014 IL App (1st) 131466, 2014 WL 4402830, at *2. Petitioner
returned the next day, and met police officers at the
LaGrange police station with her attorney. Id. She
gave both verbal and videotaped statements confessing to the
shooting. Id. at 1. The police went to
Petitioner's home and discovered Campbell shot dead in
the living room. (Dkt. 12-11, pg. 57.) The officers also
found that Petitioner's computer was missing.
Id. at 101. Blood was recovered from
Petitioner's brother's car. (Dkt. 12-12, pg. 17). DNA
testing matched the blood in the brother's car to
Campbell. Id. at 20.
police also went to Campbell's hotel room where they
discovered that the room telephone's voice mail message
light was on. (Dkt. 12-11, pg. 102-03). The officers recorded
the phone messages, which were played at trial. Id.
Drs. Karla Fisher and Steven Rothke testified on
Petitioner's behalf. Halligan Direct Appeal,
2014 IL App (1st) 131466, 2014 WL 4402830, at *3. Dr. Fisher
was qualified as an expert in the psychological effects of
domestic violence, Dr. Rothke was qualified as an expert in
clinical psychology and neuropsychology. Id. Though
both experts evaluated Petitioner independently, they relied
on her self-reporting and did not review any of her prior
medical history or other reports when forming their opinions.
Fisher opined that Petitioner suffered from Battered Woman
Syndrome (BWS). Id. at * 1. She explained that
Petitioner had been subjected to a number of abusive
relationships in her life. Id. at *3. Dr. Fisher
concluded that, as a battered woman, Petitioner was
"terrified" that Campbell was about to kill her
when she shot him. (Dkt. 12-12, pg. 163.) Dr. Fisher
explained that, in her opinion, Petitioner shot Campbell as a
manifestation of her "fight or flight" reflex in
light of her fear for her own life. Id. at 163-64.
Rothke administered a number of neuropsychological tests on
Petitioner. (Dkt. 12-13, pg, 14.) He explained that
Petitioner reported multiple symptoms suggesting the presence
of a brain injury or neurological disorder including:
headaches, tinnitus, noise and light sensitivity, dizziness,
forgetfulness, difficulty with attention and concentration,
and poor sleep. Id. Dr. Rothke's identified
several cognitive deficits in Petitioner including
limitations on mental flexibility, self-monitoring during
task performance, spatial reasoning and recall,
forgetfulness, attention and concentration, word finding, and
visuomotor speed and sequencing. Id. at 27. These
results led Dr. Rothke to opine that Petitioner suffered from
a cognitive disorder due to a traumatic brain injury.
Id. at 28. She also showed post-concussion syndrome
and residual features of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Id. Dr. Rothke opined that Petitioner's
condition was the result of multiple blows to her head over
multiple years. Id.
prosecution's theory of the case was that Petitioner
killed Campbell because she was a scorned woman. (Dkt. 12-13,
pg. 136.) To rebut Petitioner's self-defense argument,
the prosecution called Jessie McQueen. She testified that she
had been in an eight-and-half year relationship with Campbell
at the time of killing. (Dkt. 12-11, pg. 169.) She and
Campbell had lived in the same building in Willowbrook,
Illinois when they began dating. Id. at 170-71. She
moved with him to Florida in 2001, and the two of them shared
a home together in Florida, Id. at 170. McQueen
testified that Campbell had a peaceful reputation, and never
abused or assaulted her. Mat 174-75.
prosecution also called two expert witnesses to rebut
Petitioner's experts. Halligan Direct Appeal
2014IL App (1st) 131466, 2014 WL 4402830, at *3. The experts
both worked for the Cook County Forensic Clinical Services
division. Id. .One expert was qualified in forensic
psychology, and the other in clinical psychiatry.
Id. The state's experts both evaluated
Petitioner, and reviewed her medical records. Id.
The prosecution's experts opined that Petitioner did not
suffer from battered woman syndrome or post-traumatic stress
disorder. Id. Of note, the prosecutions' experts
pointed out that there was no objective source of data such
as medical records showing physical abuse or head trauma to
support the claims by Petitioner and her experts'
opinions. (Dkt. 12-13, pgs. 77, 120.)
conclusion of the bench trial, the trial judge, as the finder
of fact, found Petitioner guilty of murder. Id. The
judge explained that there was no dispute that Petitioner
killed Campbell. (Dkt. 12-13, pg. 164.) Instead, the only
issue was whether she intended to murder Campbell, acted in
self-defense, or based upon an unreasonable belief that her
life was in danger. Id. The judge found that
Petitioner was not credible and rejected her self-defense
claim. Id. at 168-70.
judge found inconsistencies between Petitioner's in-court
testimony regarding the shooting, and her videotape
confession given to the police. Id. at 167-68. He
questioned Petitioner clam of self-defense in light of the
fact that she disposed of evidence immediately after the
killing, and was a fugitive for many years. Id. at
168, 170. The judge further found that Jessie McQueen's
testimony that Campbell did not abuse her during their
multiple year relationship rebutted Petitioner's
allegations of abuse. Id. at 168-69.
trial judge pointed out that Petitioner voluntarily joined
Campbell at his hotel room after dinner the night of the
killing. Id. at 168. The judge wondered why
Petitioner did not part company with Campbell at dinner if he
had propositioned her to have sex with his boss, which led to
the argument, as she claimed. Id.
trial judge also pointed out Petitioner's ability to
access the gun in her home. Id. The judge found it
"inconceivable" that Petitioner would have
arms-length access to a gun in the exact location where
Petitioner allegedly chose to attack her in her home.
the court chose to credit the state's expert witnesses
over Petitioner's. Id. at 166. The judge found
the prosecution's experts more credible because they
examined Petitioner's medical records, while
Petitioner's experts relied solely on Petitioner's
self-reporting. Id. The trial judge stated that he
would have expected to see evidence of physical injuries from
the alleged abuse, and the lack of medical record undermined
Petitioner's experts' opinions. Id.
trial court found Petitioner guilty and sentenced her to 45
years of imprisonment. Petitioner's conviction was
affirmed by the Appellate Court of Illinois on direct appeal,
Halligan Direct Appeal, 2014 IL App (1st) 131466,
2014 WL 4402830, at *1, and the Supreme Court of Illinois
denied her petition for leave to appeal (PLA). Illinois
v. Halligan, No. 118415, 23 N.E.3d 1204 (111. Jan. 28,
then brought a post-conviction petition under Illinois's
Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq.
Illinois v. Halligan, 2016 IL App (1st) 153566-U, 2016
WL 6603301, *4 (111. App. Ct. Nov. 4, 2016)
''Halligan Post Conviction Appeal").
The state trial court denied the petition, and the denial was
affirmed on appeal by the Appellate Court of Illinois.
Id. at *9. The Supreme Court of Illinois denied her
PLA request in her post-conviction case. Illinois v.
Halligan, No. 121741, 80 N.E.3d 4 (111. Mar. 29, 2017)
(Table). Petitioner now brings the present habeas corpus
of habeas corpus cannot issue unless Petitioner demonstrates
that she is in custody in violation of the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §
2254(a). As the state courts adjudicated Petitioner's
claims on the merits, the Court's review of the present
habeas corpus petition is governed by the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The Court may
not grant habeas relief unless the state court's decision
on the merits was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, or the
state court decision is based on an unreasonable
determination of facts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
federal habeas court may issue the writ under the
'contrary to' clause if the state court applies a
rule different from the governing law set forth in [the
Supreme Court's] cases, or if it decides a case
differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts.'" Premo v.
Moore,562 U.S. 115, 128 (2011) (quoting Bell v.
Cone,535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). "An
'unreasonable application' occurs when a state court
'identifies the correct legal principle from [the Supreme
Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts of Petitioner's case.'"
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