United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
ORDER AND OPINION
E. SHADID CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Petitioner Alan Breedlove's Petition
(Doc. 1) for Writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. For the reasons set forth below, Breedlove's
Petition (Doc. 1) is DENIED and the Court declines to issue a
Certificate of Appealability.
Alan Breedlove's Trial and Direct Appeal
morning of April 26, 2000, Alan Breedlove traveled to the
residence of his former wife, Valerie Rakestraw. While
Breedlove and Rakestraw were inside the apartment, a fire
broke out. First responders pulled Breedlove from the burning
apartment through the south door. He was later treated for
burns to his face, arms, and torso, and cuts to his inner
forearms and neck. Valerie Rakestraw's severely burned
corpse was recovered near the north door. A hunting knife was
found next to her body, and she had been stabbed multiple
times in the chest and back. People v. Breedlove,
2015 IL App (3d) 140571-U, 2015 WL 5139649 at *1.
was charged on June 2, 2000 with Rakestraw's murder in a
five-count indictment in the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court in
Tazewell County, Illinois. Three days later the court
appointed a public defender, Dean Hamra, to represent
Breedlove. Breedlove later sent a letter to the public
defender's office complaining about Hamra and requesting
another attorney. In response, the public defender's
office assigned John Lonergan to assist Hamra in February of
2001. Breedlove's trial began on May 22, 2001.
trial, the State presented evidence showing that Valerie had
been married to her new husband, John Rakestraw, for 34 days
before her death. Valerie had two sons, Jeff and Brent
Breedlove. Alan had adopted Jeff and Brent in their youth.
Even after two divorces and Valerie's new marriage to
John, Alan and Valerie continued to talk and visit each
other. Valerie and John lived next to her son Jeff, who
worked for John for five years. John and Jeff drove to work
together at 6:30 a.m. on April 26, 2000. Valerie usually left
for work at 7 a.m., and was thus home by herself at 6:40 a.m.
when John and Jeff passed Alan Breedlove driving in the
opposite direction. John and Jeff learned of Valerie's
death shortly after 7 a.m. Id. at *1-2.
Sprague also testified at trial. Sprague testified that he
approached the south door of Rakestraw's apartment
shortly before 7 a.m. to serve papers on her relating to
medical bills. He also had papers to serve on Breedlove. As
he approached the apartment, he heard a man and a woman
yelling. After Sprague knocked on the door, Breedlove opened
the door about 12 inches and stood with the left side of his
body outside. While Sprague was explaining that he was
serving papers on Valerie, he heard a woman's voice
yelling for help. Breedlove grabbed the papers and slammed
the door shut. Sprague went to his vehicle and called 911
before noticing smoke coming from the northeast window of the
apartment moments later. Id. at *2.
Rakestraw testified that days before her death, Breedlove
told him that he visited Valerie every morning. Brent
Breedlove testified that the knife found at the scene looked
like one that he saw on a shelf in Alan Breedlove's
basement sometime in April of 1999. Neither John or Valerie
owned a hunting knife. Id.
autopsy was conducted on Rakestraw's body by forensic
pathologist Dr. Travis Hindeman, who testified that she died
from multiple stab wounds, consistent with the blade of the
hunting knife, that were inflicted before the fire. Hindeman
also reviewed photographs of Breedlove's cuts and
testified as to his opinion that the cuts on Breedlove's
forearms and neck were self-inflicted. Id.
did not testify at trial. The defense called Gary Rafool, a
bankruptcy attorney, who testified that Breedlove and
Rakestraw appeared to get along fine when he met with them
the day before her death. Id. On May 24, 2001, the
jury returned a verdict finding Breedlove guilty of first
degree murder, and Breedlove was later sentenced to 50 years
of imprisonment. On direct appeal, Breedlove argued that he
was not admonished by the trial court of his obligation to
preserve sentencing issues with a written motion-a
requirement under the version of Illinois Supreme Court Rule
605(a) that took effect months after Breedlove's trial.
See People v. Breedlove, 342 Ill.App.3d 924, 925,
795 N.E.2d 862, 863 (2003), as modified (Aug. 21,
2003), aff'd, 213 Ill.2d 509, 821 N.E.2d 1176
Breedlove's Postconviction Petition
2004, Breedlove filed a pro se postconviction petition
alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective in numerous
ways. Breedlove was appointed counsel, who certified that he
had suggested amendments to the petition but Breedlove had
rejected them. The petition was dismissed and Breedlove
appealed. The Illinois appellate court remanded the case and
instructed counsel to review the pro se petition and file
necessary amendments. People v. Breedlove, No. 3-
08-0082 (2010) (unpublished order under Illinois Supreme
Court Rule 23). Following the remand, Breedlove's
postconviction counsel filed an amended petition that
included allegations that Hamra was ineffective.
Specifically, Breedlove alleged in his petition that during
the time Hamra represented him, Hamra was engaged in various
unethical and illegal activities culminating in his
conviction and disbarment. Breedlove attached several
exhibits in support of the petition, including: “(1)
Hamra's investigation of several individuals whom the
defendant thought were possibly involved in the murder; (2) a
police report of an interview with the defendant's
treating physician, Dr. Milner, who told the police that the
lacerations on the defendant's arms and neck were
self-inflicted; (3) a report from the Illinois fire marshal
which stated that a fire occurred in the defendant's
basement in September 1999 and caused ‘much burning to
shelves'; and (4) a letter from Lonergan in which
Lonergan said that he would have said or done something if
Hamra prevented the defendant from testifying.”
Breedlove, 2015 IL App (3d) 140571-U, 2015 WL
5139649 at *3.
trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss the
amended petition. Breedlove appealed, and the Illinois
appellate court remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing
after finding that Breedlove made a substantial showing that
he had received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.
People v. Breedlove, 2013 IL App (3d) 110765-U, 2013
WL 3788611 at *1. The trial court then held an evidentiary
hearing on Breedlove's ineffective assistance of counsel
claim. Breedlove, 2015 IL App (3d) 140571-U, 2015 WL
5139649 at *3.
father, Wayne Breedlove, testified at the hearing that on
August 24, 2000 and January 31, 2001, Hamra called him
demanding $25, 000 to pay for investigation and trial
expenses. According to Wayne, Hamra would do little for
Breedlove without the money because “he could not
afford to waste his time for the amount of money that the
county was paying him.” Id. at *3. On both
occasions, Wayne told Hamra that he did not have the money.
Bobby Henderson, who was a sergeant with the Tazewell County
Sherriff's Department in 2000, testified that he
interviewed Dr. Anthony Firilas about Breedlove's
injuries. Firilas stated that “there was no way to tell
if [Breedlove's neck injury] was self-inflicted or
not.” Id. However, Firilas did not have
knowledge of the injuries on Breedlove's arms.
Breedlove's postconviction counsel submitted an affidavit
from Firilas into evidence which corroborated Henderson's
Breedlove also testified at the evidentiary hearing. He
testified that he was represented by Hamra and Longergan, and
his father told him about Hamra's demand for payment.
Breedlove believed that Hamra would not be able to provide an
adequate defense without the $25, 000. Breedlove then wrote a
letter to John Bernardi, the head public defender,
complaining about Hamra. Bernardi responded to
Breedlove's letter by informing him that the Tazewell
County Public Defender's Office did not have the funds to
replace Hamra, but he would appoint Lonergan as co-counsel.
Hamra never informed Breedlove that he was being investigated
for engaging in unethical or illegal activities. Id.
further testified that each time he met with Hamra, he stated
his intention to testify at trial. Hamra allegedly responded
by informing Breedlove that “if [he] persisted and
[kept] asking him, that he would get up, and leave, and [the
defendant] could represent [himself].” Id. at
*4. Breedlove again reminded Hamra on the morning of trial
that he wanted to testify, and Hamra made Longergan sit
between himself and Breedlove. Breedlove testified at the
hearing that he wanted to testify at trial as to the
First, Breedlove intended to testify that he and Valerie
maintained a good relationship after their divorce and he
visited her almost every day for breakfast and occasional sex
before work. The day before Valerie Rakestraw's murder,
he and Valerie met with their bankruptcy attorney. That
evening, Breedlove had some drinks at a bar before returning
home to snort and smoke cocaine for the rest of the night.
Breedlove used cocaine and opiates almost every day.
Second, Breedlove intended to testify that on the day of the
murder, he drove to Valerie's apartment and saw a green
Ford Explorer parked nearby in an alley. He further observed
that the trunk of Valerie's car and the back door to her
apartment were open. When Breedlove entered the apartment and
called for Valerie, she yelled at him to not come in. He saw
Valerie arguing with a black male before three other black
males shoved him into the kitchen. Breedlove identified one
of the men as “Junebug, ” who socialized with
Breedlove's previous employer, Eddie McCoy, and Terry
Edwards. The men asked where the drugs Breedlove stole from
McCoy's truck were located, to which Breedlove responded
that he did not have them. A short male with a gun and knife
then told Breedlove that “[y]ou'll come up with it
or we'll make sure you never take any again.” When
Breedlove heard a knock at the door he partially opened the
door and saw Sprague. He grabbed the papers that Sprague was
attempting to serve on Valerie, but he did not try to leave
because the man with the knife and gun was ...