United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
ORDER AND OPINION
E. SHADID, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Petitioner Henry's Petition (Doc. 1)
and Supplemental Petition (Doc. 5) for Writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below,
Henry's Petitions (Docs. 1, 5) are DENIED and the Court
declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability.
The Murder and Henry's Trial
State of Illinois charged Eric Henry with first degree murder
in the Rock Island County Circuit Court for the death of
Katherine Pedigo in 2008. People v. Henry, 2011 WL
10468068, at *1 (Ill.App.3d Dist. 2011). The case proceeded
to a jury trial where Henry was convicted and later sentenced
to natural life in prison. The facts of the investigation and
trial are more fully recounted in the appellate court's
opinion, but the Court will briefly summarize the facts
relevant to the issues raised in Henry's Petition.
April of 2008, Eric Henry lived with his girlfriend, Becky
Yaggie, in apartment 3 of a 4-unit apartment building at the
corner of 4th Street and 16th Avenue in Moline, Illinois.
Henry's codefendant, Gustavo Dominguez, lived in
apartment 3, directly above Katherine Pedigo's residence
in apartment 1. On the morning of April 20, 2008, Henry made
three calls to 911 from a landline phone in his apartment.
Henry first reported smoke in the apartment building and
later reported that he found a dead female in a bathtub. When
Moline police officers and firefighters arrived at the scene,
they observed smoke coming from the building. Officer Eduardo
Alaniz testified that he first talked to a female who lived
on the first floor, then proceeded up the stairway where he
encountered Henry and Gustavo Dominguez. Henry alerted the
officer of a fire in the basement; Dominguez informed him of
a female tied up in a bathtub. Dominguez then led the officer
to the downstairs apartment where the deceased woman was
located. Meanwhile, firefighters quickly extinguished two
small, intentionally set fires in the basement. Id.
was found dead in her bath tub. At trial, evidence was
presented that Pedigo had abrasions on her forehead and
bridge of her nose. She had multiple stab wounds, including
12 to her chest, 4 to her upper thigh, 20 on her back, and 13
to the back of her head and neck. She also had incised wounds
to her thumb, neck, and vaginal area, and both of her lungs
were punctured. It was impossible to identify which wound
caused her death. Id. Amanda Coulter, Pedigo's
sister, testified that she lived with Pedigo in apartment 1
for a short time and she was familiar with her sister's
possessions, including a laptop, two gaming consoles, a
cellphone, and several video games. After the murder, police
allowed Coulter into her sister's apartment, where she
recovered a set of keys that she recognized as her
sister's. However, the keys would not unlock either of
the apartment's doors and she was never informed that her
sister changed the locks. Id. at *2.
Greg Couch testified that he observed blood in the common
foyer area of the building and on the steps leading to the
apartments upstairs. Jasbir Hullon, the landlord of the
building, testified that Henry and Yaggie originally rented
apartment 3, but moved into apartment 4 earlier in April of
2008. The basement door was locked with a padlock that only
Henry and Hullon had the keys to unlock (Henry had previously
done some painting and repair work, including changing the
locks, in apartment 1 prior to Pedigo's arrival, as he
and Yaggie originally planned to move into that apartment.).
Id. at *1-2.
Brian Johnson also testified at Henry's trial. Johnson
interviewed Dominguez at the police station. Officers found
blood in the bathroom of the police station after Dominguez
used the facilities, leading Johnson to obtain search
warrants for Dominguez's person and his apartment. DNA
testing of the blood samples taken from the bathroom floor
and Dominguez's shoes matched Pedigo's DNA. Johnson
also obtained Pedigo's cell phone number and pinged it to
reveal its location. While searching for and calling the
phone, Johnson heard vibrations emanating from a closet
outside Henry's apartment. A search of the closet
revealed a trash bag containing Pedigo's possessions.
Henry admitted to handling Pedigos phone, which was also
found inside the trash bag. Forensic testing of an iPod found
in the trash bag revealed a mixture of DNA from which Henry
could not be excluded. Id. at *3.
used luminol at the crime scene to locate blood traces not
visible to the naked eye. The luminol revealed a blood trail
left by two different pairs of shoes that went from
Pedigo's apartment, out her kitchen door, and up the
stairs of the complex to Dominguez's apartment. From
there, the trail proceeded out the other door of
Dominguez's apartment to Henry's apartment. When
detectives sprayed luminol on the kitchen floor of
Henry's apartment, the entire floor glowed, indicating
that the floor may have been cleaned with bleach recently.
testified that Henry put the lock on the closet outside their
apartment and she did not have a key to the closet. On
Friday, April 18, 2008, she picked up Henry's paycheck
and cashed it so she could pay bills. Henry called her
anxious about when she would get home because she had his
paycheck. When she arrived home, he asked her about the check
and how much she had left. Ya g g i e gave him $30 and he
left indicating he was going to purchase marijuana. Upon his
return, he asked for more money to purchase more marijuana.
Ya g g i e gave him $50 more, and when he arrived home the
second time, he told her that Pedigo wanted him to put some
weather stripping or a lock on her door. Henry went
downstairs to Pedigo's apartment to see what she needed
and returned 30 to 45 minutes later. Id.
further testified that when Henry returned from Pedigo's
apartment, he remarked that she had “a nice place, a
lot of nice things.” Yaggie recounted Henry's
comment that “if he had that kind of stuff, he could
pay off his bills, what he owed me and whatever, ” to
which Yaggie responded by warning him to “[not] even
think about doing something like that.” Instead, Yaggie
suggested that he quit buying dope and borrowing money.
However, on April 19, Henry asked for more money to buy
drugs, which she gave to him. Yaggie attempted to call Henry
five or six times on April 19, but was not able to reach him
until around 11 p.m. when he told her he was finishing off
his dope and going to bed. Id. at *4.
morning of April 20, Henry called Yaggie and told her to call
the landlord because there was a fire in the basement, but
did not mention Pedigo's death. That night, Yaggie drove
Henry to East Moline and dropped him off at a gas station.
Henry said he was staying with a friend but did not indicate
where. He later called Yaggie and told her it would not be a
good idea for them to stay together. On April 21, Henry drove
Yaggie and her client to Iowa. During the drive, the police
called Yaggie and asked for her permission to search her
apartment and the closet outside. Henry told her not to tell
the police he was with her. When the two returned to the
apartment and the police asked again about searching the
closet, Henry told Yaggie he did not know where the key was.
Hare testified she dated Henry in October of 2007 and she
still talked with him occasionally. Before his arrest, Henry
called Hare and told her a murder and fire occurred at his
apartment, that the police had a suspect, and that he was
afraid he too would be a suspect. Hare also testified that a
knife found in the victim's bedroom was similar to one
Henry had shown her previously. Id. at *3.
Shockley testified about her relationship with Henry in April
of 2008, apparently at the same time he was dating Yaggie.
Henry called Shockley multiple times on April 19 and at one
point he stated “that he had done something
stupid” and that he had broken into another apartment
in the building and taken a laptop, iPod and cell phone.
Henry told Shockley he had done a sloppy job at breaking into
the apartment and he needed to go make it look like an
outside job. He later went to Shockley's house, where she
asked him if he was the one who murdered Pedigo. After Henry
refused to answer, Shockley asked him to look her in the eyes
and tell her he did not commit the murder, but he would not
do so. According to Shockley, Henry “didn't say
that he did do it, but the way that he was acting, the way he
was looking at me, I could tell that he was lying to
me.” When she told Henry that he was guilty of the
murder if he could not look her in the eyes and deny doing
it, he did not respond. Id. at *4.
close of evidence for the prosecution, Henry moved for
directed verdict, and his motion was denied. The defense
called three witnesses to the stand. Detective Scott Williams
testified that he searched a trash can at Henry's
residence and found a paycheck stub for $180 inscribed with
“Eric Henry roofing” in the note section of the
check. Robert Slay testified that he knew Dominguez to carry
a pocket knife. He further testified that despite being
friends with Dominguez, he did not trust him because he
“caught him trying to steal a couple CD's” on
occasion and he would not leave Dominguez alone with his
belongings. William Reschley testified that he was a friend
of Dominguez and gave him about $30 a week for four years.
Finally, Henry recalled two police officers that testified in
the prosecution's case-in-chief before
resting. Id. at *5.
jury unanimously found Henry guilty of first degree murder
and further found unanimously that the murder had been
committed by exceptionally brutal and heinous behavior
indicative of wanton cruelty. Henry's counsel filed a
post-trial motion raising arguments including: (1) Henry was
not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (2) the trial
court erred in allowing his criminal history in as
impeachment evidence, and (3) the trial court erred in ruling
that the defense could not present evidence that Dominguez
tried to access another person's home after Pedigo's
murder. Doc. 21-4, at 14. Henry also filed five pro se
motions for new trial, but the trial court decided that it
would only address the issues that were also raised in
counsel's motion. The trial court denied counsel's
motion and sentenced Henry to natural life in prison.
Meanwhile, Dominguez was found not guilty by reason of
insanity in a separate bench trial. Henry appealed.
Id. (2) Henry's Direct Appeal to the Third
District Appellate Court of Illinois Henry, with the
assistance of (different) counsel, filed a direct appeal to
the Third District Appellate Court of Illinois. In his
appeal, Henry argued that the prosecutor's remarks during
closing arguments regarding the reasonable doubt burden of
proof and the law of accountability entitled him to a new
trial. The Illinois appellate court found no error in the
prosecutor's remarks and affirmed the judgment of the
trial court. People v. Henry, 2011 WL 10468068, at
*5 (Ill.App.3d Dist. 2011).
Henry's Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois
filed a pro se petition for leave to appeal in the Illinois
Supreme Court. Doc. 21-2. Therein, he raised a host of
issues, including trial counsel's failure to seek a
psychological evaluation for Henry. Id. at 4. The
Illinois Supreme Court denied Henry's petition on March
28, 2012. Doc. 21-3; People v. Henry, No. 113736,
968 N.E.2d 85 (Ill. 2012).
Henry's Postconviction Petition
November 13, 2012, Henry filed a pro se postconviction
petition arguing, inter alia, that trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to request a fitness hearing, and
appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the
issues contained in trial counsel's motion for new trial.
Doc. 21-4, at 15. The trial court issued a written order
summarily dismissing Henry's petition on the basis that
he failed to state a constitutional claim. Henry appealed.
Henry's Appeal of the Denial of his Postconviction
was appointed counsel to represent him on appeal from the
trial court's denial of his postconviction petition.
Counsel raised two issues on appeal: (1) whether Henry stated
an arguable basis of a constitutional claim that trial
counsel was ineffective for failing to request a fitness
hearing; and (2) whether Henry stated an arguable basis of a
constitutional claim that appellate counsel was ineffective
for failing to argue on direct appeal that the trial court