United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
2009, an Illinois jury convicted Dion Spears of first-degree
murder and other firearms and narcotics charges. The state
court sentenced Spears to a total of 73 years in prison. For
the last decade, Spears has fought to overturn those
convictions and sentences. On direct appeal, the court
vacated Spears's narcotics conviction, but other than
that, everything has stayed the same. In 2015, Spears
petitioned this Court pro se for a writ of habeas corpus
raising a variety of claims. The Court stayed the case while
Spears's postconviction petition was pending in the
Illinois courts. After the state Supreme Court declined to
hear his appeal for a second time, the Warden with custody
over Spears answered his petition. Because the state court
reasonably applied federal law in rejecting Spears's only
cognizable claim, the Court denies his petition (Dkt. 1).
February 2008, Spears fatally shot Derrick Bey outside a
banquet hall in Elgin, Illinois. See People v.
Spears, 2018 IL App (2d) 151162-U, ¶ 4, appeal
denied, 111 N.E.3d 968 (Ill. 2018). After a security
guard confiscated Spears's revolver, he fled the scene,
only to have a car hit him as he was attempting to run across
a road. Id. When responding paramedics loaded Spears
into an ambulance, they discovered a second gun in his
pocket. Id. At the hospital, Spears regurgitated a
baggie of cocaine. Id.
February 13, the State of Illinois charged Spears by felony
complaint with: (1) armed violence; (2) aggravated unlawful
use of a weapon by a felon; (3) possession of a defaced
firearm; (4) unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon; and
(5) unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Id. ¶ 5. Although a warrant immediately issued
for Spears's arrest, the police did not serve that
warrant for more than a year because of his extended recovery
from his severe injuries in multiple different medical
January 21, 2009, the State served the Kane County Public
Defender's Office with a copy of the charging documents,
criminal history, and police reports relating to Spears's
case. Id. ¶ 6. On February 9, an assistant
public defender appeared in court and requested that the
court appoint her office to represent Spears and authorize a
medical evaluation. Id. The assistant public
defender indicated that she did not object to the outstanding
warrant because the medical facility was not going to release
Spears anytime soon. Id.
March 24, law enforcement arrested Spears when the medical
facility released him from its custody. Id. ¶
7. On April 22, a grand jury indicted Spears for two counts
of first-degree murder in addition to the charges previously
alleged in the felony complaint (except the defaced firearm
charge). Id. ¶ 8.
moved to dismiss the murder charges arguing that the State
violated Illinois's speedy trial statute because more
than 120 days had lapsed between February 3, 2008 (the date
he went to the hospital, his claimed custody date) and April
22, 2009 (the indictment date). Id. ¶ 9. Spears
also contended that the pre-indictment delay of 14 months
infringed his due process rights. Id. ¶ 10.
hearing on Spears's motion to dismiss, the detective who
investigated the shooting-Brian Gorcowski-testified that a
car hit Spears seconds after he fatally shot Bey.
Id. ¶ 11. The medical professionals did not
initially expect Spears to live. Id. ¶ 12. When
Gorcowski visited Spears at the hospital, he was unconscious
and on a ventilator. Id. The hospital sent Spears to
a nursing home where his condition deteriorated. Id.
When Gorcowski checked on Spears a few months later, he
learned that the nursing home transferred Spears back to a
hospital, where he was nonresponsive and in critical
condition. Id. ¶ 13.
thereafter, the hospital moved Spears to a rehabilitation
facility. Id. ¶ 13. When Gorcowski visited
Spears at that facility in August or September 2008, he was
“propped up in a chair, drooling, and staring blankly
at a television set.” Id. Although this was an
improvement from Spears's previous condition, he remained
nonresponsive. Id. Spears continued to get better,
and in late 2008 or early 2009, he underwent a fitness
evaluation. Id. ¶ 15. That evaluation revealed
that Spears was physically fit to stand trial, so law
enforcement executed the arrest warrant and took him into
trial court denied Spears's motion to dismiss the murder
charges, determining that the speedy trial
“clock” started to run on March 24, 2009, when
police officers served Spears with the arrest warrant because
he was not in custody up until that point. Id.
¶ 17. Seeing that the grand jury indicted Spears less
than 30 days later, the trial court decided no speedy trial
violation occurred. Id.
case eventually proceeded to trial on the charges of
first-degree murder, armed violence, and unlawful possession
of a controlled substance. Id. ¶ 18. The jury
found Spears guilty on all charges. Id. The trial
court sentenced Spears to consecutive prison terms of 57
years for murder and 16 years for armed violence.
Id. The court also sentenced Spears to a concurrent
prison term of 3 years for unlawful possession of a
controlled substance. Id. Spears appealed.