United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
GEORGE A. REESE, Petitioner,
DUSHAN ZETECKY Superintendent, Respondent.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
George A. Reese is serving a 70-year sentence for his 2012
Harrison County, Indiana conviction for child molestation. He
brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Mr.
Reese's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
denied and the action dismissed with
prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a
certificate of appealability should not issue.
Factual and Procedural Background
court review of a habeas petition presumes all factual
findings of the state court to be correct, absent clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); Daniels v. Knight, 476 F.3d 426,
434 (7th Cir. 2007). On direct appeal, the Indiana Court of
Appeals summarized the relevant facts:
K.J., born in March 1996, lived with her family in New
Albany, Floyd County. In May 2008, the family met Reese at a
cookout. Reese moved in with them in New Albany, and when
they moved in June 2008 to a four-bedroom one-bathroom house
in Palmyra, Harrison County, Reese moved with them. The
household in Palmyra consisted of five children and seven
adults: K.J., her older brother R.J., her older sister L.J.,
her younger brother M.J., her younger sister S.J., her father
Robert, her stepmother Christina, her stepmother's cousin
Tommy, Tommy's wife Angela, Tommy's brother Michael
Priddy, Michael Devore, and Reese. While in Palmyra, Reese
asked Robert and Christina if they knew “where he could
get some young pussy.” Tr. p. 1087. Robert and
Christina said no.
Reese, who was fifty-two years old, flirted with
twelve-year-old K.J., bought her ice cream and other items,
and treated her differently from the other children. He also
hugged her, which made her uncomfortable.
Robert was cooking out in the backyard one day when he sent
K.J. into the kitchen for some ketchup. Upon walking into the
kitchen, she saw Reese there. Reese asked K.J. to give him a
blow job and pulled down his pants. Scared, K.J. knelt down
and put her mouth on his penis. When S.J. appeared at the
back door and saw them, K.J. stopped and went to her room,
mad and humiliated that her little sister had to see her like
About a month after the family moved to Palmyra, S.J. told
Christina what she had seen. When Robert learned about it, he
confronted Reese, who admitted what he had done with K.J.
Robert kicked Reese out of the house.
Robert invited Reese back to Palmyra sometime after the wind
storm in September 2008 because he wanted to find out his
last name. At some point, K.J. told L.J. about what Reese
made her do. L.J. eventually stuck a knife to Reese's
throat and ordered him out of the house. When Robert and
Christina asked where Reese was, L.J. said she put a knife to
his throat and kicked him out because he had been making K.J.
do things to him. Robert called Reese and threatened him.
When Reese lived with the family, he gave them money for
groceries and also bought them an above-ground pool. Several
months after L.J. kicked him out at knifepoint, Reese called
Robert and offered to buy the family some furniture. Robert
said they did not need anything from him. Reese then asked to
talk with K.J. Robert allowed it but monitored the call from
another phone in the house. Reese asked K.J. “how his
dick tasted in her mouth.” Id. at 1085. Robert
angrily interjected that he would rip Reese's heart out
and feed it to him. Reese hung up.
Indiana State Police Detective William Wibbels began
investigating the case in November 2009. During his
investigation, he spoke with K.J., who had since been removed
from the home and was staying at a youth shelter. K.J. told
Detective Wibbels that Reese made her perform oral sex on him
about two hundred times. The State filed numerous charges
against Reese but dismissed all but one count of Class A
felony child molesting and one count of being a habitual
offender. Before trial, Reese filed a motion in limine
seeking to prohibit the State from presenting evidence of his
alleged uncharged misconduct, which the court granted. Reese
was tried in February 2012, but the jury deadlocked and the
court declared a mistrial. Before the second trial, Reese
took a polygraph examination, which he had been demanding to
take since he was first charged. The examiner asked Reese in
three different ways whether he had engaged in oral sex with
K.J. Each time, Reese responded no and the examiner
determined he was being untruthful.
K.J. and others testified for the State on retrial. K.J.
testified that Reese asked her for a blow job and pulled down
his pants, and she complied. On cross, Reese verified with
K.J. that she had initially told Detective Wibbels that she
was forced to perform oral sex on Reese about two hundred
times but was now telling the jury that it happened only
once. The following exchange then occurred:
Q: Why would you lie to Officer Wibbels and tell him it
happened two hundred times and then today say it only
A: We were talking about several different me [sic] so ...
Q: Okay. So if you're talking about several different
people that means it's okay to lie about what George did
A: It wasn't practically lying.
Q: Pardon me?
A: It wasn't lying. It was mis-confusion.
Id. at 833. Reese then pointed out several
inconsistencies between K.J.'s deposition testimony and
trial testimony. On redirect, K.J. acknowledged the
inconsistencies but testified that she had never wavered
about the fact that Reese put his penis in her mouth when she
was twelve years old. She further said that she had been
abused by a lot of men and that it was difficult to keep
everything straight. On recross, K.J. testified that five
men, including Reese, had sexually abused her. On redirect,
the State asked K.J. whether there were certain things she
could not discuss at trial, and K.J. responded affirmatively.
She said that those rules made it more difficult to answer
Reese and others testified for the defense. Reese denied that
any oral sex with K.J. occurred. He stated that the last time
he stayed with K.J.'s family was for a few days in
October 2008. One morning during that time, he thought he
heard Robert asking K.J.'s sister L.J. in the kitchen,
“[D]o you want me to lick your pussy[?]”
Id. at 1649. Reese testified that he confronted
Robert about it by phone in February or March 2009, and
Robert hung up on him. Reese claimed that no one thought he
had done anything wrong until he accused Robert of
The jury found Reese guilty of Class A felony child molesting
and subsequently found him guilty of being a habitual
offender. The trial court sentenced him to seventy years:
forty years for the Class A felony enhanced by thirty years
for the habitual offender finding.
Reese v. State, 988 N.E.2d 405, 2013 WL 2293671,
*1-3 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013).
Reese appealed raising three issues: (1) whether the
prosecutor committed misconduct by repeatedly informing the
jury that inadmissible evidence was being withheld; (2)
whether the State injected improper vouching testimony to
bolster the victim's credibility; and (3) whether the
trial court erred in determining that Mr. Reese opened the
door to uncharged and highly prejudicial misconduct evidence.
On May 23, 2013, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Mr.
Reese's conviction and sentence. Id. Mr. Reese
sought further review by the Indiana Supreme Court. The
Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer on August 22, 2013.
October 21, 2013, Mr. Reese petitioned pro se for
state post-conviction relief. He filed an amended petition by
counsel on April 8, 2016, alleging ineffective assistance of
trial counsel. The trial court ...