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White v. Miles

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

August 7, 2019

ALAN WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
SHERWIN MILES, [1] Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SARA L. ELLIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Alan White, who is currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, is serving a fifty-year sentence for first degree murder and a consecutive ten-year sentence for attempted first degree murder. White has petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Although the Court reaches his ineffective assistance of counsel claim as it relates to counsel's failure to call Tanisha Nash and Donald Rogers and to introduce certain police reports into evidence, White has not shown that the state court's decisions on these issues were contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. The Court finds the remainder of White's claims procedurally defaulted. Thus, the Court denies White's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court draws the following facts from the state appellate court opinions on direct and post-conviction review, supplemented by the state trial court record as necessary. Though White submits several pages of allegedly additional facts the state courts did not consider in his habeas petition, because he has not shown clear and convincing evidence to suggest that the state court's factual findings are erroneous or that the state court made an unreasonable determination of the facts, the Court relies on the state court's factual determinations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Thompkins v. Pfister, 698 F.3d 976, 985 (7th Cir. 2012); Morgan v. Hardy, 662 F.3d 790, 798 (7th Cir. 2011).

         I. White's Trial and Conviction

         A. Description of the Incident

         A shooting near the 4200 block of West Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois, killed Chester Alexander and injured Derrick Nelson. Prosecutors charged White and Demond Carter with the first degree murder of Alexander and the attempted first degree murder of Nelson. Both White and Carter proceeded to a jury trial.

         The evidence at trial established that on the evening of July 6, 2006, Lamarius Brooks, a member of the Traveling Vice Lords gang, was selling drugs on the corner of West Wilcox and South Keeler, a corner controlled by the Four Corner Hustlers gang. White and Carter, who belonged to the Gangster Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers, pulled up to Brooks in a car, and Carter asked Brooks for cocaine. Brooks gave Carter the drugs, but Carter did not pay for them and instead told Brooks to leave the intersection. After arguing with Carter and White, Brooks walked toward 4231 West Wilcox, where Brooks' girlfriend, Re-Re, lived with her mother. Carter and White followed Brooks. At some point, Carter snapped his fingers, and White hit Brooks over the head with a gun. Bleeding, Brooks went inside Re-Re's house to get a towel. Carter and White retreated to a porch across the street and several houses down from Re-Re's house.

         While in Re-Re's house, Brooks, angry that he lost money and had been injured, called Alexander, also a Traveling Vice Lords member. Alexander picked up Brooks in a Range Rover, and they drove to a gas station to meet five or six other individuals, including Charles Henderson. They eventually returned to Keeler and Wilcox to fight it out and found White and Carter on the same porch. Nelson, Davon Turner, Geremy Johns, Tyrone Thomas, and Michael Pitchford were also in the area. At some point, shots rang out. Once the shooting began, a crowd rushed into Re-Re's house. As Nelson tried to enter, someone shot him once in the back. Alexander ran away from the house toward Keeler.

         Shukeyina Godfrey, who was also in the area, ran eastbound on Wilcox toward Keeler and saw Alexander at the corner of Wilcox and Keeler. Godfrey observed a white van driving along Wilcox turn onto Keeler. As she continued to run, she heard more gunshots behind her on Keeler. Someone discovered a wounded Alexander in the grass at 142 South Keeler. He subsequently died from his injuries, with the autopsy revealing four gunshot wounds.

         After the shooting, the police collected evidence from the scene and recovered twenty-three fired cartridge cases. They also recovered bullet fragments from the scene and from Alexander's body. Two state firearms experts examined the evidence and observed that the incident involved at least three guns, with one expert opining that the number could have reached seven. On January 8, 2007, the police executed a search warrant on an apartment at 4248 West Le Moyne. There, they encountered Montrell Knight, a Gangster Disciple, and recovered nine guns, including an AK-47 and an automatic handgun that individuals used in the shooting.

         B. Witness Testimony at Trial

         The State presented testimony from eight occurrence witnesses-Brooks, Nelson, Turner, Johns, Henderson, Thomas, Pitchford, and Godfrey-at trial. All of them testified that they did not see who fired the shots. But these witnesses had previously made statements implicating White and Carter as the shooters. After the witnesses denied making these statements, the State introduced the prior statements as substantive evidence.

         Brooks had previously stated that he saw Carter cross the street to a nearby porch after taking the cocaine from Brooks and that he later saw a black male shooting a firearm from the ground near that location. At trial, Brooks denied stating that a black male was shooting at him from across the street.

         Before trial, Nelson stated that he saw White and Carter on a porch across the street, with the gunshots coming from people on that porch. Nelson indicated that White might have been the shooter and that he saw White and Carter enter a white minivan driven by a woman during the shooting. In photo arrays and lineups, Nelson identified White as the person who hit Brooks in the head with a firearm and Carter as the individual who argued with Brooks. He further identified them both as having entered the white van. At trial, Nelson denied his prior statements, instead claiming that Chicago Police Detective Daniel Gallagher coerced him into implicating White and Carter.

         In Turner's prior statements, he stated he saw both White and Carter shooting firearms during the incident. In photo arrays, Turner identified both White and Carter as the shooters, and identified White in a lineup. He further indicated he saw individuals resembling Carter and White shooting from a white minivan driven by a woman. At trial, he denied identifying White and Carter as the shooters but testified that White hit Brooks over the head with something shiny.

         Before trial, Johns identified White and Carter as the shooters, specifying that White was standing near the gate by the porch. In photo arrays, Johns also identified Carter as one of the shooters and White as the one who hit Brooks in the head with a firearm. Johns identified Carter in a lineup. At trial, Johns did not recall making the identifications and testified that Gallagher told him who to identify in the photo arrays and coerced him into signing his written statement. He did testify at trial that White hit Brooks over the head with a firearm.

         In Henderson's prior statements, he indicated Carter shot from the porch. Henderson selected Carter from both a photo array and lineup, but, at trial, he did not recall making these identifications and indicated that he constantly used drugs and was high every day.

         Before trial, Thomas stated Carter shot at Re-Re's house from across the street, making this identification in a photo array and a lineup. He also identified White in a photo array and lineup as the person who hit Brooks over the head with a firearm. At trial, Thomas did not recall these identifications, also testifying that Gallagher coerced him into identifying White and Carter and writing the contents of his ...


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