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United States ex rel. Parker v. Nicholson

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

June 27, 2018

WALTER NICHOLSON, Warden, Stateville Correctional Center, [1] Respondent.



         In 2002, Scott Parker was convicted of felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, and residential burglary, all in connection with the death of Catherine Kelley. Parker was sentenced to 60 years in prison, and he is now serving his sentence at the Statesville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. On December 23, 2009, Parker filed a pro se petition in this Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his petition, Parker claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with a pretrial evidentiary hearing regarding the admission of certain incriminating statements. Parker also claims that the Illinois state courts independently erred in admitting those incriminating statements. Finally, Parker maintains that the Illinois state courts erred in convicting him of both first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. For the reasons explained below, the petition is denied.


         A federal court considering a habeas corpus petition presumes correct the factual findings made by the last state court to adjudicate the case on the merits, unless those findings are rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Rever v. Acevedo, 590 F.3d 533, 537 (7th Cir. 2010); Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696, 704 (7th Cir. 2003). The Illinois Appellate Court made factual findings in two opinions: People v. Parker, 801 N.E.2d 162 (Ill.App.Ct. 2003), and People v. Parker, No. 3-04-0574 (Ill.App.Ct. 2009). Parker does not challenge those factual findings and thus this Court accepts them as true. See Mendiola v. Schomig, 224 F.3d 589, 592-93 (7th Cir. 2000) (stating that state appellate court's factual findings are entitled to the same deference afforded to state trial court's findings).

         I. Offense Conduct

         On November 12, 2001, Parker, who had previously performed maintenance work for Kelley, went to her home in Moline, Illinois. Parker, 801 N.E.2d at 164. Kelley's car was in the driveway, but she did not answer her door when Parker knocked. Id. Nonetheless, Parker entered the home, saw Kelley's purse on the table, and took a credit card from it. Id. Parker then heard a noise in the basement and walked toward the basement stairwell, where he encountered Kelley at the top of the stairs. Id. Kelley began screaming and Parker grabbed onto her as she ran or slipped back down the stairs. Id.

         Parker fell going down the stairs. Id. As he got up, he wrapped his arm around Kelley and held on to her “real tight” because she was screaming and yelling. Id. Parker then tried to tie a white piece of cloth around Kelley's mouth. Id. An autopsy later revealed that Kelley died from strangulation, probably by the bathrobe belt found tied around her. Id. Parker used the credit card he had taken to buy power tools that he then pawned. Id. He was arrested by police on November 16, 2001 at a bus stop in Davenport, Iowa, pursuant to an arrest warrant for forgery and theft based on his use of Kelley's credit card. Id.

         II. Parker's Arrest and Interrogation

         The Davenport police informed the Moline police of Parker's arrest, and two Moline police detectives, Pablo Reyna and Douglas Garrison, went to Davenport to interview Parker. Id. Garrison informed Parker of his Miranda rights and Parker acknowledged that he understood them. Id. Parker was then given a form containing the Miranda rights and asked to place his initials next to each statement on the form. Id. Parker began initialing the form but stopped and said “I think I need a lawyer.” Id. He then said, “I didn't mean to hurt her.” Id. Reyna and Garrison then left and went to another room to interview Parker's mother. Id.

         According to the Illinois Appellate Court's factual recitation, approximately ten minutes after Reyna and Garrison left, Davenport Police Detective Thomas entered the interview room and told Parker that he was going to read him the warrant that had been the basis for his arrest. Id. After Thomas began reading the warrant, Parker interrupted him and made some inculpatory statements. Id. Thomas did not respond. Id. Parker then asked Thomas to get Reyna. Id. Thomas told Reyna and Garrison what had occurred and they went back into the interview room. Id.

         According to Parker, Thomas read Parker the warrant and told him that it would be to his benefit to speak to the detectives. (People v. Parker, No. 3-04-0574 (Ill.App.Ct. 2009) at 4, Ex. E to Resp.'s Answer, Dkt. No. 13-6 (recounting Parker's testimony at evidentiary hearing in his post-conviction proceeding).) Parker then asked Thomas about the whereabouts of his mother; Thomas replied that she was being questioned; and Parker asked for the detectives. (Id. at 4-5.)

         After Parker said that he wished to speak without his lawyer present, he was re-Mirandized and signed a written waiver of his rights. Parker, 801 N.E.2d at 164. Parker subsequently gave a video-taped statement in which he admitted to killing Kelley. Id. at 164-65.

         III. Adjudicative Proceedings

         A. Trial Court Proceedings

         On March 1, 2002, the trial court held a hearing on Parker's pretrial motion to suppress his confession. (People v. Parker, No. 3-04-0574 (Ill.App.Ct. 2009) at 2, Ex. E to Resp.'s Answer, Dkt. No. 13-6.) Parker's trial counsel did not present any evidence at the hearing. Id. Instead, Parker's trial counsel argued that Thomas re-initiated contact with Parker by re-entering the room to read the warrant to Parker. Id. The trial court disagreed, finding that Parker was the one who re-initiated contact with the detectives, and thus denied Parker's motion to suppress. Id. at 2-3. In May 2002, following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Rock Island County, Parker was convicted of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and residential burglary-based on the killing of Catherine Kelley and burglarizing of her home-and sentenced to a term of 60 years of imprisonment for murder. Id. at 3. Parker then appealed. Id.

         B. Direct Appeal

         On direct appeal, Parker argued that:

(1) the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress statements that he made to police after invoking his right to counsel;
(2) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call him to testify at the suppression hearing;
(3) the trial court violated Illinois Supreme Court Rule 605(a) by failing to advise him of the need to file a motion for reconsideration if he wished ...

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