United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Spears has filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”). Frank Lawrence,  Acting Warden of
Menard Correctional Center (“Respondent”),
contends that Spears's claims are procedurally defaulted,
meritless, or noncognizable. For the following reasons, the
petition  is denied.
was charged and convicted of the murder of Octavious
Dandridge, which occurred at the intersection of Chicago and
St. Louis Avenues in Chicago, Illinois, on April 22, 2008.
Resp't Ex. A at 2. On that day, Spears, Charles Munyi,
Owen Turner, and Rodney Turner walked Spears's stepbrother
Jerrell Dillard to a nearby bus stop. Id. at 2, 9.
As they walked back, they encountered Dandridge and his
friend Deon Richard. Id. at 2. Spears and Dandridge
got into a verbal altercation, and Dandridge was shot.
trial, the State's case rested on four witnesses who
identified Spears as the shooter-Munyi, Richard, Owen, and
DeAngelo Jones. Id. at 3-9. Munyi, however, was the
only witness who gave a positive identification at trial;
Richard, Owen, and Jones all recanted their prior statements
accusing Spears of the murder. Id. Accordingly, the
State called as witnesses several police officers and
prosecutors to prove up the prior inconsistent statements
identifying Spears. Id. The defense, by contrast,
theorized that Munyi was the shooter, and attempted to prove
that fact through cross-examination of the State's
witnesses. Id. at 2. The defense also called Dillard
to support its theory. Id. at 9-10.
Richard's Testimony and Prior Inconsistent
testified that he met with police and an Assistant
State's Attorney (“ASA”) on April 24, 2008.
Id. at 3. At that time, Richard made a statement,
which the ASA recorded and Richard signed. Id.
According to that statement, Richard and Dandridge were
standing near the intersection of Chicago and St. Louis
Avenues when Richard saw two men pass by. Id. One,
whom Richard referred to as “Shorty, ” asked
Dandridge “what did he say, ” and when Dandridge
responded that he was not looking for trouble, an argument
ensued. Id. Shorty then grabbed a black gun from his
waistband and shot at Dandridge. Id. Dandridge ran,
but Shorty pursued him and shot seven or eight more times,
hitting Dandridge in the back and neck. Id. At the
time he gave the statement, Richard identified Spears as the
shooter from a photo array, and identified Dillard as
Spears's companion. Id. at 3-4. Richard was
familiar with Spears and knew that Spears lived in the area.
Id. at 4.
trial, Richard acknowledged that he had made these statements
and identifications, but recanted them. Id. at 4. He
testified that, although he was at the scene, he heard only
gunshots and did not see the shooter. Id. He stated
that police had forced his statement, and that he had made
the statement based on neighborhood gossip. Id. He
also stated that he was angry about his friend's murder
and wanted to see someone convicted. Id.
State presented three witnesses to prove up Richard's
prior inconsistent statements-Chicago police sergeant Daniel
Gallagher, ASA Joy Tolbert Nelson, and ASA Patrick Keane.
Id. at 4-5. Gallagher and Nelson were present for
Richard's police-station interview, and verified that he
had made the statement. Id. Keane testified that
Richard had given the same story to the grand jury.
Id. at 5. All three witnesses testified that
Richard's prior statements had not been coerced.
Id. Richard's statement to police and grand-jury
testimony were then admitted as substantive evidence pursuant
to 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/115-10.1. Id. at 11.
Owen Turner's Testimony and Prior Inconsistent
testified that he had spoken to the police several days after
the shooting and had given a signed statement on June 20,
2008. Id. at 5. In that statement, he identified
himself, Rodney, Munyi, and Spears from a photo taken by a
pod camera and stated that they were coming back from
dropping off Dillard at the bus stop. Id. Owen also
stated that Spears had exchanged words with Dandridge, whom
Owen similarly identified in a photo. Id.
acknowledged at trial that he had given this statement, but
recanted and offered a different story suggesting that Munyi
had been responsible for the shooting. Id. He
testified that, when he and the others walked Dillard to the
bus stop, he saw Dillard take something from his waistband
and hand it to Munyi. Id. Owen, Rodney, Munyi, and
Spears then walked near the intersection of Chicago and St.
Louis Avenues, but Munyi and Spears lagged a few feet behind.
Id. at 6. According to Owen, Rodney then said that
“Ghost”-referring to Munyi-was arguing with
someone. Id. The group continued to walk, when Owen
heard gunshots. Id. On cross-examination, Owen said
that he saw Munyi with the gun, which was black with a pearl
handle. Id. Later, Owen saw Munyi and Jones in the
alley with a shovel, burying the gun. Id.
State presented two witnesses to prove up Owen's prior
inconsistent statements-Chicago police detective Donald Hill
and ASA Jose Villareal. Id. Hill had interviewed
Turner at the police station on June 20, and Villareal took
Turner's statement in the presence of Hill the next day.
Id. Both testified to Owen's prior statement and
said Owen had made no mention of seeing Dillard pass
something to Munyi, of Munyi and Dandridge arguing, or of
seeing Munyi with the gun after the shooting. Id.
Owen's prior statements were admitted as substantive
evidence pursuant to 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/115-10.1.
Id. at 11.
Jones's Testimony and Prior Inconsistent
testified at trial that he previously had given testimony to
the grand jury. Id. at 6. Before the grand jury,
Jones had testified that Spears had telephoned him shortly
after the murder, asking him to retrieve a gun. Id.
Jones agreed, and he, Munyi, and Owen retrieved the gun and
buried it. Id. at 7. A few days later, Jones asked
Spears, “[w]hat would make you do something stupid like
[that]?” and Spears responded, “[i]f the shoe was
on the other feet he would have did me in.”
Jones recanted his grand jury testimony at trial, revising
certain details and adding new ones. Id. at 6-7. He
testified that after Spears had called him, Munyi also called
him and asked him to help “get rid” of a gun.
Id. at 7. Furthermore, he testified that his
conversation with Spears actually referred to Munyi.
State called two witnesses to prove up Jones's prior
statement-Detective Hill and ASA Keane, both of whom had
interviewed Jones before his grand-jury appearance.
Id. Jones's prior statement was admitted as
substantive evidence pursuant to 725 Ill. Comp. Stat.
5/115-10.1. Id. at 11.
Munyi's Testimony and Cross-Examination
important to the State's case was Munyi, who testified at
trial that he saw Spears shoot Dandridge. Id. at 8.
According to Munyi, he had been at Spears's house with
Rodney, Owen, and Spears, and the group decided to walk three
blocks with Dillard to the bus stop because Dillard did not
feel safe going alone. Id. After Dillard boarded the
bus, the group walked back. Id. Rodney and Owen cut
across a vacant lot, but Munyi and Spears remained on the
sidewalk, where they ran into Dandridge and his friends.
Id. Munyi said that Dandridge began threatening
Spears, labeling him a “snitch.” Id.
Spears then pulled out a “long-nosed black revolver
with a white handle” from his waist, and shot Dandridge
in the head. Id. Dandridge tried to run, but Spears
shot him several more times. Id.
stated that, days later, he saw the same gun being passed
around at the residence of Rodney and Jones. Id. He
testified that the last time he saw the gun was in that house
and that he did not know what happened to it afterwards.
Id. He denied having anything to do with getting rid
of the gun. Id.
Munyi's cross-examination, the trial court held a meeting
in chambers, and defense counsel sought permission to inquire
into an armed robbery with which Munyi had been charged.
Id. at 8-9. Counsel claimed that, in the robbery,
Munyi and Jones had used the same gun that was used in
Dandridge's shooting. Id. at 9. Counsel argued
that this line of inquiry was relevant to impeach Munyi's
testimony that he saw the gun only once a few days after the
shooting, and to corroborate testimony that Munyi had helped
to bury the gun. Id. The court asked whether counsel
could specifically “link” the gun used in the
murder to the gun used in the robbery, to which counsel
responded that Jones had told him the guns were the same.
Id. The court denied permission to conduct
cross-examination to that effect, concluding that if counsel
could not “prove it up with certainty, ” the
court would not “get into this other case.”
testified on Spears's behalf and stated that he had asked
Spears to walk with him to the bus stop for his safety.
Id. Dillard did not want to travel alone because
there had been a confrontation with Dandridge earlier, and
Dandridge was “patrolling” the area. Id.
Dillard asked Munyi for a gun, and Munyi handed him a black
revolver with a long barrel and white handle. Id.
The group, which ...