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People v. Fathauer

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

November 15, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
LYNN A. FATHAUER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 10CF340 Honorable Rudolph M. Braud, Judge Presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, John M. McCarthy, and Ryan R. Wilson, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Springfield, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: John C. Milhiser, State's Attorney, of Springfield (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Thomas R. Dodegge, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holder White and Justice Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In January 2012, a jury convicted defendant, Lynn A. Fathauer, of participation in methamphetamine manufacturing (720 ILCS 646/15(a)(2)(A) (West 2010)) and obstruction of justice (720 ILCS 5/31-4(a) (West 2010)). The trial court sentenced defendant to 20 years in prison for the methamphetamine offense and a concurrent term of 3 years in prison for obstruction. On direct appeal, this court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. People v. Fathauer, 2013 IL App (4th) 120424-U, ¶ 2.

         ¶ 2 In February 2014, defendant pro se filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2014)). Defendant alleged four grounds for relief, including ineffective assistance of trial counsel. In April 2014, the trial court appointed counsel to represent defendant on his postconviction petition, and later that month the State filed a motion to dismiss.

         ¶ 3 In August 2015, postconviction counsel filed a motion to withdraw. Citing People v. Kuehner, 2015 IL 117695, 32 N.E.3d 655, postconviction counsel argued each of defendant's pro se claims was in fact frivolous or patently without merit. In May 2016, the trial court granted counsel's motion to withdraw over defendant's objection but did not address the State's motion to dismiss.

         ¶ 4 Defendant appealed, and this court dismissed the appeal for want of a final order. People v. Fathauer, 2017 IL App (4th) 160364-U, ¶ 2. On remand, the trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss defendant's postconviction petition.

         ¶ 5 Defendant appeals, arguing the trial court erred by granting postconviction counsel's motion to withdraw because (1) defendant's petition stated a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) postconviction counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to amend the pro se petition. We disagree and affirm.

         ¶ 6 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 7 A. Procedural History

         ¶ 8 In June 2010, the State charged defendant with participation in methamphetamine manufacturing (720 ILCS 646/15(a)(2)(A) (West 2010)) and obstruction of justice (720 ILCS 5/31-4(a) (West 2010)). The State alleged defendant knowingly participated in the manufacture of less than 15 grams of methamphetamine or a substance containing methamphetamine on May 22, 2010. Regarding the obstruction charge, the State alleged defendant knowingly concealed evidence by throwing a glass jar containing methamphetamine into a grassy area.

         ¶ 9 In January 2012, the case proceeded to a jury trial. We need not provide a detailed summary of the testimony at trial. Such a summary may be found in the direct appeal of defendant's conviction. See Fathauer, 2013 IL App (4th) 120424-U. The resolution of defendant's appeal largely turns on the testimony of one witness, Daron Trudeau.

         ¶ 10 1. The Jury Trial

         ¶ 11 The State's first witness was Jeffrey Leininger, a Springfield police officer. Leininger was on duty around noon on May 22, 2010. Because a detective wanted to speak to Trudeau "with reference to him parting out stolen parts on a stolen car," Leininger drove to Maaco (an auto collision repair shop) to search for Trudeau and a Chevy Blazer. When he saw the Blazer, Leininger pulled his squad car next to it and asked the driver if they could talk. The driver responded, "Why?" and drove away. The driver continued even after Leininger exited his squad car and told him to stop. Leininger followed the Blazer and initiated a traffic stop, informing the driver, Trudeau, that he was under arrest "for basically obstruction, resisting, for not listening to [his] commands, and driving away." Defendant was in the passenger seat. At some point Leininger observed white spots on defendant's clothing. He asked Trudeau and defendant if they had thrown anything from the window. Both denied having done so.

         ¶ 12 Trudeau testified he and defendant had known each other for five to seven years. On May 21, 2010, Trudeau took some methamphetamine he had cooked the day before to defendant's Decatur home. The methamphetamine needed further processing. To process the methamphetamine, Trudeau used a "generator" (a glass jar with a hose connected to it) and muriatic acid. Trudeau would mix aluminum with the muriatic acid to make smoke. Methamphetamine would form at the bottom of the jar. At that point, the methamphetamine would be wet. Trudeau would strain the product through coffee filters and let it dry. At defendant's house, Trudeau asked for filters and used them. Once he had the final product, Trudeau waited for it to dry and then took it with him.

         ¶ 13 Trudeau testified he and defendant left defendant's home in Trudeau's Chevy Blazer. While in the Blazer, Trudeau cooked more methamphetamine. Defendant assisted by acting as a lookout and by steadying the generator. The two smoked some of the methamphetamine. They also went to Trudeau's sister's house and then to Springfield. Defendant was with Trudeau when Trudeau bought lighter fluid. Trudeau obtained the anhydrous ammonia earlier by stealing it from tanks.

         ¶ 14 According to Trudeau, he drove to Maaco to pick up his last check from work. As he exited the Maaco parking lot, a police officer told Trudeau he wanted to talk. Trudeau responded he had nothing to say and drove away. Trudeau testified he did not stop because he had methamphetamine in his car. Trudeau handed defendant a mason jar, which contained methamphetamine, and told defendant to throw it out. Defendant threw the jar and its contents out of the passenger window. Trudeau stated a bag containing methamphetamine and a pipe were also thrown from the window. Trudeau believed he disposed of those items. Trudeau then stopped for the police. An officer removed Trudeau from the Blazer and handcuffed him. Trudeau was arrested on May 22, 2010, for unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.

         ¶ 15 Trudeau further testified he was interviewed by the police and the state's attorney's office. He testified he was not promised anything for his testimony and that he was facing the same charges as defendant.

         ¶ 16 On cross-examination, Trudeau testified his trial for methamphetamine manufacturing was approaching. Trudeau believed he would get probation for that offense because he had not been in trouble before. Trudeau agreed he had not been caught stealing anhydrous ammonia. He denied stealing anything else, including car parts. Trudeau testified he did not know he was purchasing stolen parts. He bought them because they fit his vehicle. Trudeau was not arrested for possessing stolen car parts.

         ¶ 17 Trudeau acknowledged giving three interviews with police and the state's attorney's office. Trudeau did not think he had told police in his first interview that he knew the parts recovered were stolen. Trudeau admitted he used half a gram to a gram of methamphetamine per day and denied telling the police officers he used two to three grams per day. Trudeau stated he had been making methamphetamine for four to five months and admitted he sold methamphetamine when he wanted money. All of the items in the truck were thrown out of the passenger side window. He admitted that each time he manufactured methamphetamine he had to steal anhydrous ammonia. Trudeau also recruited people to purchase pseudoephedrine pills.

         ¶ 18 The jury found defendant guilty of both charged offenses. The trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent prison terms of 20 years for methamphetamine manufacturing and 3 years for obstruction.

         ¶ 19 2. The Direct Appeal

         ¶ 20 On direct appeal, this court summarized defendant's arguments as follows: "Defendant argues the State failed to prove him guilty of both offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant contends only one witness testified defendant participated in methamphetamine production and threw the jar from the Blazer. That witness, Trudeau, was 'an admitted liar, methamphetamine addict, and drug dealer,' who had a motive to testify falsely. Defendant maintains, because of this, Trudeau's testimony was unbelievable and his convictions should be overturned." Fathauer, 2013 IL App (4th) 120424-U, ¶ 32.

         ¶ 21 This court affirmed the conviction and sentence. Id. ¶ 2. In doing so, we noted as follows:

"The jury was informed of Trudeau's conduct and pending methamphetamine-related charges, as well as Trudeau's alleged purchase of stolen auto parts. Defense counsel cross-examined Trudeau regarding his motive to lie and of his anticipation of receiving probation for the offense. The jury, who heard Trudeau and the other witnesses testify, apparently believed Trudeau, in spite of his alleged motive to lie and his methamphetamine addiction. This determination lies within the role of ...

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