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Coronado v. Korte

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

June 15, 2018

Andres Coronado R33300, Petitioner,
Jeff Korte, Respondent.


          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin, United States District Judge

         Petitioner Andres Coronado brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his armed habitual criminal and armed robbery convictions in Illinois state court. For the following reasons, the Court denies Coronado's petition and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.


         A. State Court Conviction

         The following facts are taken from the Illinois appellate court's opinion on direct appeal from Coronado's conviction.[1] At about 10 a.m. on November 6, 2009, two men entered Amigo's Gifts in Bensenville, Illinois to rob it. People v. Coronado, 2012 IL App (2d) 110574-U, ¶ 2. A man in a grey hooded sweatshirt pointed a gun at Hyo Lim, the proprietor of Amigo's, and “grabbed the cash register on the counter.” Id. Lim struggled briefly with the man until the second man jumped over the counter and pushed Lim to the ground. Id. Both men left the store after emptying the register. Id. Lim was unable to identify the robbers. Id. Coronado became a suspect based on an anonymous phone call to the police. Id. ¶ 5.

         Insurance papers for a van owned by Vincente Nunez were recovered at the crime scene. Id. ¶ 3. Nunez testified at trial that he loaned his yellow van to two men he knew as Andres and Rudy in November 2009. Id. The van's insurance papers were missing when Nunez got the van back. Id. Jennifer Cones, a forensic scientist, testified at trial that she had processed fingerprints recovered from the counter at Amigo's Gifts and from the van insurance papers. Id. ¶ 6. She testified that she matched those fingerprints to Coronado's. Id. The jury convicted Coronado of armed robbery and being an armed habitual criminal under 720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a)(1), and the Court sentenced him to 28 years in prison. 2012 IL App (2d) 110574-U, ¶¶ 1; 7.

         B. Direct Appeal

         Coronado appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred by permitting Cones to testify that the fingerprints were Coronado's without proper foundation. Id. ¶ 8. The State responded that Coronado forfeited the issue by failing to timely object. Id. The appellate court agreed with the State and affirmed the conviction. Id. ¶¶ 9-19.

         The appellate court found that Coronado “forfeited the issue” of “the lack of foundation for Cones's opinion” by failing to contemporaneously object or to specifically object on this basis in pre-trial or post-trial filings. Id. ¶¶ 13-16. The appellate court explained that the operation of a forfeiture rule “‘is particularly appropriate when a defendant argues that the State failed to lay the proper technical foundation for the admission of evidence, and a defendant's lack of a timely and specific objection deprives the State of the opportunity to correct any deficiency in the foundational proof at the trial level.'” Id. ¶ 14 (quoting People v. McNeal, 955 N.E.2d 32, 53 (1st Dist. 2010)).

         The appellate court further concluded that “[e]ven disregarding the forfeiture, the trial court properly admitted the [fingerprint] evidence.” Id. ¶ 17. The court explained that “[o]nly where a foundation is completely lacking does the issue become one of admissibility.” Id. The court noted that Cones “never testified to the number of points of comparison that she found, the State did not introduce the scanned images of the latent prints, Cones did not state which of defendant's prints correspond with the latent lifts, and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System record prints were not before the jury.” Id. ¶ 10. But Cones “testified in detail about processing the fingerprints” in “nearly 30 pages” of direct testimony, and “defense counsel extensively cross-examined Cones about fingerprint analysis in general and about her work on this case” in “approximately 25 pages” of cross-examination. Id. ¶¶ 13, 17. The court concluded that “[t]here was more than sufficient foundation here that the trial court was not required to strike, sua sponte, Cones's testimony.” Id. ¶ 17.

         Coronado renewed his expert foundation argument, along with ineffectiveness of trial and appellate counsel arguments, in a pro se petition for leave to appeal (“PLA”) to the Illinois Supreme Court. R. 11-4. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Coronado's PLA on November 27, 2013. People v. Coronado, 2 N.E.3d 1047 (Ill. 2013).

         C. State Post-Conviction Proceedings

         On October 22, 2014, Coronado filed a pro se post-conviction petition in state court arguing, among other things, insufficiency of the evidence, defects in the fingerprint evidence, ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to object to the admission of the fingerprint evidence, and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failing to argue trial counsel's ineffectiveness. R. 1 at 39-46. The state court denied Coronado's post-conviction petition on November 4, 2014. Id. at 3. Coronado did not appeal because, in his view, the “[s]ame issues already have been presented and denied by [the] Illinois Supreme Court [ ] by way of denial of [the] PLA.” Id.

         D. Federal Post-Conviction Proceedings

         Coronado filed his pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court on March 18, 2015, arguing that: (1) he is actually innocent; (2) he was denied his “14th Amendment Right” because the state court did not resolve his claim regarding the foundation for Cones's expert fingerprint testimony; and (3) his conviction violates the Eighth Amendment because he was “convicted and incarcerated without substantial proof.” R. 1 at 5-6. Korte filed an answer to Coronado's petition arguing that Coronado's claims are procedurally defaulted and ...

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