United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Matthew F. Kennelly United States District Judge.
a jury trial in Illinois state court, Johnny Hughes was
convicted of murder and attempted armed robbery. The trial
court sentenced Hughes to concurrent prison terms of
fifty-five years for first-degree murder and ten years for
attempted armed robbery. Hughes has petitioned this Court for
a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the
reasons stated below, the Court denies Hughes's petition
in part and orders further briefing on one of his claims.
Bradley was shot and killed on the morning of June 12, 2001.
Bradley's ex-wife, Ruth Bradley, lived in a house
separated by an alley from Bradley's home. (The Court
uses Ruth Bradley's full name to distinguish her from
Alex Bradley, to whom the Court refers as
"Bradley.") She testified that Bradley was a
"scavenger" who bought and sold items from his
backyard. One morning, Ruth Bradley heard a gunshot, so she
looked out her window and saw a white car quickly driving
away as Bradley stumbled in his yard. She testified that
Bradley shouted "Ruth, Ruth, I've been shot."
Ex. P at 170 (Ruth Bradley testimony). At trial, a
forensic pathologist testified that Bradley had been shot in
the torso, near his armpit, and died from his wounds. The
government also introduced the testimony of Tawana Smith. She
lived nearby and described hearing a gunshot and seeing a
white Ford Tempo with a handicapped license plate quickly
drive out of the alley. She was able to see and recall all or
part of the license plate number.
upon Smith's description of the automobile, police
connected Bradley's death first to Arnold Elliott, who
was related to the owner of the white Ford Tempo. They also
learned Johnny Hughes might be involved in the murder. When
they located and pulled over Hughes's car, they found
Leon Tanna driving. Tanna was then arrested on an unrelated
outstanding warrant. He told the officers that Hughes was
being detained in Jasper, Indiana. On June 27, 2001,
assistant state's attorney Iris Ferosie and two
detectives traveled to Jasper to interview Hughes about
Bradley's murder. Hughes did not testify at his trial,
and his statements were not recorded, so the description of
the conversation that occurred at the jail is based upon the
testimony that Ferosie offered at trial.
detectives spoke with Hughes for approximately twenty minutes
before Ferosie entered the interview room. Ferosie testified
that, upon joining the detectives, she advised Hughes of his
Miranda rights and asked if he was willing to speak
with her. He agreed. Ferosie testified that Hughes stated
that Arnold Elliott had picked him up in a white Ford. Hughes
said that he and Elliott snorted heroin and smoked crack
cocaine while driving around and, as a result, he did not
recall the events of the night well. He recounted possessing
a bag of small consumer items-what he described as
merchandise-that they attempted to sell to Bradley.
testified that Hughes told her that both he and Elliott left
the car and approached Bradley. Hughes carried the
merchandise and noticed Elliott was carrying a gun. After
they unsuccessfully tried to sell the merchandise to Bradley,
Hughes walked back towards the car and left the bag of
merchandise atop a trash can. Hughes told Ferosie that he
then heard a gunshot. He could not provide more specific
details, telling Ferosie: "Listen, I was high, you know,
I don't really remember exactly." Ex. R at 34
(Ferosie testimony). After Ferosie pressed him further,
Hughes asked her if she had ever smoked crack cocaine. She
stated she had not, and he responded: "You know what?
That's my story. I'm done talking." Id.
and the detectives left the interview room and returned to a
waiting room. Soon after this, a Jasper police officer told
them Hughes wanted to speak to them again. Ferosie testified
that, when she returned to the room in which Hughes was held,
he told her, "I'm going to tell you the truth
now." Id. at 36.
to Ferosie's testimony, she re-advised him of his
Miranda rights. Hughes told her he understood the
rights, and he then provided a different account of
Bradley's murder from the one he had given earlier.
Hughes affirmed that he and Elliott initially spent the night
using drugs. Yet Hughes also told Ferosie that, upon entering
Elliott's car, Elliott gave him a gun and told him they
were going to "do a lick," meaning they would rob
someone. Id. at 37. Hughes told Ferosie that he and
Elliott drove around all night but were unable to find anyone
to rob, so they decided to drive to Bradley's residence
to sell the merchandise for more gas money. During this
account, Hughes told Ferosie that he, not Elliott, was
holding the gun when they approached Bradley. Bradley did not
want to buy the items they had to offer, which made Hughes
angry. He told Ferosie that he pulled out the gun, pointed it
at Bradley, and began to search Bradley's pockets for
money. While his hand was in Bradley's front shirt
pocket, Bradley pushed him away, which according to Hughes
caused the gun to fire. Ferosie testified that Hughes told
her that he and Elliott then fled without ever obtaining any
money. Hughes said that, after the murder, he told Leon
Tanna-who called Hughes his uncle, though they were not
related-about the murder.
years after his conviction for murder-as part of a state
post-conviction petition-Hughes filed an affidavit stating
that he never waived his rights and refused to answer
Ferosie's questions but that nonetheless he was
"continuously interrogated." Ex. S at 19 (Hughes
end of the conversation, Ferosie provided Hughes with several
options to memorialize his statement. She testified that
Hughes said he did not trust video recording or a court
reporter and did not want to write his own statement. Also,
Hughes was unwilling to provide any further statement unless
Ferosie could promise him a deal. Ferosie stated she was
unable to offer a deal on her own, so Hughes refused to speak
with her any further. Ferosie then returned to Chicago.
3, Ferosie met with Tanna, who was detained at the Cook
County Jail after being arrested while driving Hughes's
car. Ferosie testified that Tanna told her about a
conversation in which Hughes described shooting Bradley.
Tanna told Ferosie that Hughes said he had shot Bradley as
the result of a "reflex," Ex. R at 49-50 (Ferosie
testimony), and did not know whether he had killed Bradley.
Ferosie also testified that there were no noticeable signs of
injury on Tanna and that Tanna said he was treated
"fine" by the police. Id. at 50. After
their discussion, Ferosie documented Tanna's statement,
which she then read to him aloud as he signed the bottom of
each page to indicate his acceptance of the statement. Tanna
later testified to similar effect before a grand jury.
trial, however, Tanna testified that he had been coerced by
the police into making a statement to Ferosie while in
custody and again before the grand jury. During his trial
testimony, Tanna said he did not recall any conversation in
which Hughes told him he shot Bradley.
Hughes's trial, Elliott-the driver on the night Bradley
was killed-also testified. Elliott testified that he and
Hughes consumed drugs and eventually decided to sell
Hughes's bag of merchandise to Bradley. Elliott said he
remained in the car while Hughes walked with the merchandise
to Bradley's backyard. Elliott claimed Hughes left his
line of sight, and he then heard a gunshot and saw Hughes
return to the car. They left, and Hughes later told him that