United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHNSON COLEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is pro se petitioner Anthony Reynolds' petition
for a writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court
denies Reynolds' habeas petition and declines to certify
any issues for appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
considering habeas petitions, federal courts presume that 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). Where
Reynolds has not provided clear and convincing evidence to
rebut this presumption, the following factual background is
based on the Illinois Appellate Court's decisions on
direct and post-conviction appeal.
case arises from the shooting death of Martel Edwards on
April 28, 2006. That evening, Edwards was at a car wash near
Harvey, Illinois with David Dabbs, William Blasingame, and
several other individuals when Reynolds, Raymond Lipscomb,
and Kendall Edwards arrived in a blue Buick Park Avenue
sedan. Reynolds and Lipscomb exited the car and walked up to
Dabbs. Reynolds then shook Dabbs hand. At his May 2009 jury
trial, Reynolds testified that he went to the car wash to
talk to Dabbs about maintaining peace between rival factions
in Harvey, but on cross-examination Reynolds admitted that he
was seeking revenge for the death of his friend, Willie
Matthews. After shaking hands, Lipscomb fired multiple shots
at the victim Edwards and Dabbs before Reynolds drew his gun
and fired it. Edwards and Dabbs fled from the scene, but
Edwards fell to the ground and later died of gunshot wounds.
trial court instructed the jury on two kinds of first degree
murder-intentional or strong probability and felony murder
based on the aggravated discharged of a firearm-as well as on
second degree murder. Following deliberations, the jury found
Reynolds guilty of both types of first degree murder. The
trial court then merged the felony murder conviction into the
intentional and strong probability conviction and sentenced
Reynolds to 40 years in prison for first degree murder and 20
years for the firearm enhancement.
by counsel, filed an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court
arguing: (1) the trial court erred by refusing to give his
proposed self-defense jury instructions; (2) trial counsel
was constitutionally ineffective for failing to propose a
jury instruction defining self-defense; (3) the felony murder
jury instructions violated his right to a fair trial; (4)
prosecutorial misconduct violated his right to a fair trial;
and (5) the trial court erred by allowing the State to
impeach him in violation of Illinois law. The Illinois
Appellate Court affirmed Reynolds' conviction and
sentence in April 2012. Reynolds then filed a counseled
petition for leave to appeal (“PLA”) bringing the
same claims to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Illinois
Supreme Court denied his PLA in September 2012.
March 2013, Reynolds filed a post-conviction petition
pursuant to the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725
ILCS 5/122-1, et seq. He presented the following
arguments: (1) trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective
for failing to investigate and call occurrence witnesses; and
(2) the State improperly used his 2007 proffer agreement to
his detriment. The trial court dismissed Reynolds'
post-conviction petition at the second stage of the
proceedings in January 2014.
post-conviction appeal, Reynolds, by counsel, argued: (1)
trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and
call certain occurrence witnesses; and (2) the State violated
the 2007 proffer agreement. In June 2016, the Illinois
Appellate Court affirmed the second stage post-conviction
dismissal. The only issue Reynolds raised in his
post-conviction PLA is that counsel was ineffective for
failing to investigate and call occurrence witnesses at
trial. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Reynolds'
post-conviction PLA in November 2016.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a
federal court cannot issue a writ of habeas corpus on a claim
rejected on the merits in state court unless the petitioner
surmounts high obstacles.” Janusiak v. Cooper,
937 F.3d 880, 888 (7th Cir. 2019). Specifically, under AEDPA,
the Court cannot grant habeas relief unless the state
court's decision was contrary to, or an unreasonable
application of federal law clearly established by the Supreme
Court. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 402-03,
120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000); Felton v.
Bartow, 926 F.3d 451, 464 (7th Cir. 2019). The Supreme
Court has explained that a state court's decision is
“contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court
law “if the state court arrives at a conclusion
opposite to that reached by this Court on a question of
law” or “if the state court confronts facts that
are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme
Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to
ours.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 405. Under the
“unreasonable application” prong of the AEDPA
standard, a habeas petitioner must demonstrate that although
the state court identified the correct legal rule, it
unreasonably applied the controlling law to the facts of the
case. Id. at 407.
state prisoner must exhaust his remedies in state court
before seeking relief in federal court.” Snow v.
Pfister, 880 F.3d 857, 864 (7th Cir. 2018).
“Inherent in the habeas petitioner's obligation to
exhaust his state court remedies before seeking relief in
habeas corpus, is the duty to fairly present his federal
claims to the state courts.” King v. Pfister,834 F.3d 808, 815 (7th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). If a
habeas petitioner fails to fully and fairly present his
federal claims through ...