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Goolsby v. Melvin

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 6, 2020

BRIAN GOOLSBY, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL MELVIN, Warden, Pontiac Correctional Center, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          MARY M. ROWLAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Brian Goolsby has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction for murder. In his petition, he presents two ineffective assistance of counsel claims: 1) his attorney failed to investigate and call John Elmore, Benita Jackson, Paris Henderson, Donna Henderson, Kianta Britten, Tiana Williams, and Martin Lopez as witnesses; and 2) his counsel failed to prepare an adequate defense. (Dkt. 1 at 5-6) For the reasons that follow, Goolsby's petition [1] is denied, and no certificate of appealability shall issue.

         BACKGROUND

         When considering habeas petitions, federal courts must presume that the factual findings made by the last state court to decide the case on the merits are correct, unless the petitioner rebuts those findings by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Coleman v. Hardy, 690 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir. 2012). Goolsby has not provided clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption of correctness here, so this factual background is taken from the state court's findings. People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U.

         1. Trial

         Following a jury trial, Defendant Brian Goolsby was found guilty of the first-degree murder of seventeen year old Terrell Davis and sentenced to 85 years' imprisonment. At trial, the victim's sister Antoinette Brayboy testified that at around 1 a.m. on October 6, 2005, the victim left the family residence. Brayboy lived with the victim, her mother, and her grandmother. Approximately an hour later, Brayboy's grandmother heard gunshots. When the victim did not return home, Brayboy and her mother left the house and walked to the nearby intersection of Campbell Avenue and 63rd Street, where it appeared there was “something going on.” People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ¶ 3. While walking, Brayboy observed Goolsby sitting in a vehicle. A man known as “Lucky” entered the vehicle and drove away with Goolsby. Before Brayboy reached Campbell and 63rd Street, she learned that her brother had been shot.

         Johnny Hardin, an acquaintance of both the victim and Goolsby, gave a statement to an Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) and testified before the grand jury that around 2 a.m. on October 6, 2005, he was leaving his girlfriend's house near Campbell and 63rd Street. As he walked, he saw the victim run through a vacant lot. A few seconds later, he observed Goolsby (whose face was illuminated by the streetlights) chase after the victim. Hardin witnessed the victim fall near the end of the vacant lot where Goolsby caught up with him and shot him two or three times with a chrome gun. Hardin claimed to have witnessed Goolsby throw the gun onto the roof of a building as he fled the scene.

         At trial, Hardin-who had four prior felony convictions for drug possession- recanted the statements he made to the ASA and the grand jury. He testified that on July 23, 2006, as he was driving his children to school, the police stopped him, recovered a gun from his vehicle, and brought him to the police station. Police questioned Hardin for several hours regarding the murder. Eventually, Hardin and the police came to an “arrangement” in which Hardin would implicate Goolsby in the victim's murder. In exchange, the police would not charge Hardin with possession of a firearm, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would not take away his children. At trial, Hardin testified that he made his statements to the ASA and the grand jury in accordance with this arrangement. He also testified that, in October of 2005, he was on electronic monitoring at his sister's residence and if he traveled more than 100 feet from there, the sheriff's office would have been alerted. As such, Hardin testified that he did not leave his sister's house on October 5 or 6, 2005 and did not actually witness Goolsby shoot the victim. Because Hardin recanted at trial, his prior inconsistent statements identifying Goolsby were admitted as substantive evidence under state law. People v. Goolsby, 2013 IL App (1st) 103358-U, at ¶¶ 74-77 (explaining that, under 725 ILCS 5/1156-10.1, prior inconsistent statements are admissible as substantive evidence as long as certain statutory requirements have been met); see also People v. Armstrong, 2013 IL App (3d) 110388, ¶ 23, 987 N.E.2d 1040, 370 Ill.Dec. 274 (recanted admitted prior inconsistent statement alone is sufficient to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt); People v. McCarter, 2011 IL App (1st) 092864, ¶ 23, 954 N.E.2d 718, 352 Ill.Dec. 635 (trier of fact may consider a prior inconsistent statement introduced as substantive evidence under 725 ILCS 5/1156-10.1 the same as direct testimony by that witness; convictions supported by a substantively admitted prior inconsistent statement may be upheld even though a witness recants at trial) (overruled on other grounds).

         Mark Love-who had four prior felony convictions at the time of the trial and knew both Goolsby and the victim-provided grand jury testimony that a day or two before the murder, during a separate altercation between Love and Goolsby, the victim told Goolsby that he “hit like a bitch.” According to Love, Goolsby told the entire group of observers that it was “cracking” (i.e., there would be a fight or a shootout), and Love was afraid Goolsby would return and “do something stupid.” However, at trial, Love testified that he told Goolsby that he “hit like a bitch.” While testifying at trial, Love also denied that the victim had made this remark and could not recall telling the grand jury that the victim made this remark. Love also clarified that Goolsby told only him that it was “cracking” between them, despite testifying to the grand jury that Goolsby said this to the entire group. Because Love testified inconsistently regarding who had taunted Goolsby and whom Goolsby threatened in response, his prior statement to the grand jury was admitted as substantive evidence. (Dkt. 13 ¶ 8); People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ¶ 9.

         Damion Dorsey testified at trial that he knew both Goolsby and the victim. Sometime around October 1, 2005, Damion was with a group of people that included Goolsby, the victim, and Lucky. Damion's cousin and Lucky got into an altercation, and Goolsby punched Damion in the face. The victim started “laughing, hooping and hollering” and called Goolsby a “big pussy.” (Dkt. 13 ¶ 6)

         Damion's brother Delwin Dorsey-who had four prior felony convictions- provided a written statement to an ASA in which he stated that the day before the shooting, he had a conversation with Goolsby outside a store where they discussed the feud between Goolsby and a group of people, including the victim and Love. Goolsby apparently told Delwin that it was “cracking” between him and the group. Delwin stated that he saw Goolsby point a chrome .380 handgun at the victim and threaten to kill him on the night of the murder. His statement also declared that on a phone call with Goolsby the next evening, Goolsby admitted to the murder on speakerphone.[1] While on speakerphone, Goolsby described shooting the victim once, chasing him down and then shooting him again, and then finally shooting him twice more as he lay on the ground. Delwin testified similarly before a grand jury, stating that on the night of the murder, Goolsby threatened the victim with a gun, telling him it was “cracking” and that “y'all all signed your death certificate over to me, ” and that on the phone call the following evening, Goolsby admitted to chasing the victim down and shooting him. (Dkt. 13 at 5) (citing Ex. A, ¶ 38) Delwin's statement also claimed that, while on speaker phone, Goolsby told the group that he saw people talking to police and that it was “cracking.”[2]

         But Delwin recanted at trial. He acknowledged speaking to the police, giving a statement to an ASA, and testifying before a grand jury. He explained at trial that he spoke to the police and the ASA only after Chicago Police Detective Sayan Sampin forced him at gunpoint to accompany him to the police station, and because he felt that he could be charged as an accessory to the murder. He denied telling the ASA and the grand jury that Goolsby threatened the victim, and denied that Goolsby described the murder on the phone. Delwin did, however, acknowledge that Goolsby told the victim “they sign they death certificate.” People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ¶ 15. As with Hardin and Love, Delwin's prior inconsistent statements describing Goolsby's admission were admitted as substantive evidence.

         Detective Sampin testified at trial that he investigated the shooting. According to Detective Sampin, two weeks after the shooting, Hardin and Delwin approached Detective Sampin while he was searching nearby rooftops for the gun. Hardin told Detective Sampin that he was searching the wrong roof. After Detective Sampin asked Hardin to direct him to the correct roof, Hardin walked away. Detective Sampin then asked Delwin to come to the police station. Delwin declined, stating that Goolsby had people watching “all the time, ” and he could be killed for speaking to the police. People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ¶ 17. However, Delwin later came to the station voluntarily. Detective Sampin denied ever pointing a firearm at Delwin, or threatening Hardin with criminal charges, in exchange for a statement. Detective Sampin testified that all statements were given voluntarily.

         The medical examiner testified at trial that the victim's death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds. The parties stipulated to a forensic scientist's testimony that the bullets recovered from the victim's body were .38/.357 caliber, all fired from the same firearm. The police never recovered a gun from the crime scene.

         The jury found Goolsby guilty of first-degree murder, additionally finding that Goolsby personally discharged the gun that caused the victim's death. Goolsby's trial counsel filed a motion for a new trial, contesting the sufficiency of the evidence. Thereafter, new counsel for Goolsby filed an appearance and two supplemental motions for a new trial. After trial counsel withdrew, new counsel argued that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present several witnesses. In affidavits attached to the supplemental motion, Kianta Britten and Tiana Williams stated that they were present during the altercation between Goolsby and Love, and they did not hear the victim mock Goolsby.

         At a hearing on the posttrial motions, Goolsby testified that he had approximately five conversations with trial counsel while trial counsel represented him. Goolsby claimed to have given trial counsel the names of four alibi witnesses: Paris Henderson, Donna Henderson, Benita Jackson, and John Elmore. Goolsby testified that trial counsel told him that he doesn't “put on alibi defenses, ” and refused to contact the witnesses. People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ¶¶ 23-24 When trial counsel testified, he acknowledged telling Goolsby that he does not “put on alibi defenses, ” but claimed Goolsby only gave him the names of two potential witnesses: John Elmore and Paris Henderson. Trial counsel testified that he later learned about Donna Henderson from Goolsby's family.

         Trial counsel testified that he reviewed the handwritten statements and grand jury testimony of Paris Henderson and John Elmore, as well as the police reports related to their interviews. According to Henderson's prior statement, she was drinking and playing cards with Goolsby between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. on the night of the shooting, but claimed that Goolsby left and returned at some point during that timeframe. Henderson could not remember when Goolsby left or when he returned, and was thus unable to account for his whereabouts at around 2:00 a.m. Trial counsel therefore concluded that Henderson “would make a very poor alibi witness.” People v. Goolsby, 2016 IL App (1st) 141378-U, at ΒΆ 25. According to Elmore's prior statements, he was intoxicated on the night of the shooting, and that ...


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