United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Johnson Coleman, United States District Judge.
Petitioner Abraham Williams petitioned for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). For the
following reasons, the Court denies Williams' habeas
petition and declines to certify any issues for appeal
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
considering habeas petitions, federal courts presume the
factual findings made by the last state court to decide the
case on the merits are correct unless the habeas petitioner
rebuts those findings by clear and convincing evidence.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Sims v.
Hyatte, 914 F.3d 1078, 1095 (7th Cir. 2019). Since
Williams failed to provide clear and convincing evidence to
rebut this presumption, the following factual background is
based on the Illinois Appellate Court's decisions.
Williams' murder trial, Alvester Morman testified that on
December 1, 2003 around 1 p.m., she was on the second floor
of her home on Maypole Street in Chicago when she heard a
crash and gunshots outside. When she looked out her front
window, she saw that a car had hit three parked cars and then
came to a stop. Thereafter, a man got out of the car and ran.
At the same time, Morman saw two men exit a white van and
shoot at the man who ran from the car. The running man
tripped, and the men from the van continued to shoot at him.
The driver of the van looked at Morman in her window and she
saw his face. On January 16, 2004, Morman viewed a line-up at
the Chicago Police Department Area 4 Headquarters. She
identified Williams as the driver of the van and as one of
the men she saw shooting at the victim. At trial, Morman made
an in-court identification of Williams.
other individuals saw the shooting while they were parked in
separate cars on Maypole Street on December 1, 2003 at around
1 p.m. One of the individuals, Ben Trapp, testified that he
was talking on his cell phone when he heard gunshots. He then
looked in his rearview mirror and saw a white van following a
four-door sedan. People in the van were shooting at the car.
Shortly after, Trapp saw the car hit a parked car and a man
run out of the car. The van then stopped, and two men got out
chasing the victim. Trapp testified that the victim fell to
the ground after being shot.
eyewitness, Ann Griffin, testified that while she was
double-parked on Maypole, she heard gunshots and saw a car
followed by a white van. A passenger in the van was leaning
out of the window and was pointing a gun at the car. She
heard gunshots and fell to the floor of her car. She then
heard a crash and more gunfire. Later, Chicago police took
Griffin to another street to identify the van, which she did.
She also identified a photograph of the van in court.
Miranda also testified at Williams' jury trial. He stated
that on the morning of December 1, 2003, Williams had called
him to borrow his van, after which Williams stopped by to
pick it up. A few hours later, Williams called Miranda at
work and told him that the police had his van.
trial, Charles Green testified that on December 1, 2003,
Williams and another man picked him up in a white van. After
driving for a while, Green stated that Williams and the other
man got out of the van and then he heard gunshots. At trial,
Green claimed he did not specifically see either man shoot at
anyone. Nonetheless, an Assistant State's Attorney
testified to Green's earlier written statement saying
Williams shot the victim. Another Assistant State's
Attorney testified as to Green's grand jury testimony.
arrested Williams on January 16, 2004 in Country Club Hills,
Illinois and transported him back to Chicago Police Area 4
Headquarters. A police sergeant and detective interviewed
Williams several times that day. At one point, Williams
confessed to his role in the murder. Meanwhile, guns were
recovered from the van and forensic evidence confirmed that
they were used in the victim's shooting.
the jury deliberated, they found Williams guilty of first
degree murder and also that Williams had personally
discharged a firearm in the commission of the offense. The
trial court later sentenced Williams to 40 years for the
first-degree murder and 20 years for discharging the firearm.
filed a direct appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court arguing
that the admission of Green's statement and the grand
jury testimony violated Illinois evidentiary law. On June 10,
2009, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Williams'
conviction and sentence. Williams filed a petition for leave
to appeal (“PLA”) to the Supreme Court of