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Taylor v. Superintendent

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 1, 2018

WILLIAM TAYLOR, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Petitioner William Taylor is serving an 80-year sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction after being convicted in 2011 by a Boone County jury on two counts of A-felony child molestation. Mr. Taylor is also serving, concurrently, a 25-year sentence after pleading guilty in Hendricks County to additional charges of child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, and child seduction.

         Mr. Taylor's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges the judgment entered in the Boone County case. For the reasons that follow, the petition must be denied, the action must be dismissed with prejudice, and no certificate of appealability shall issue.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         District 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 conduct underlying Mr. Taylor's charges and the state's investigation into and prosecution of that conduct. See Taylor v. State (Taylor I), No. 06A04-1104-CR-272, 2011 WL 6591956, at *1-3 (Ind.Ct.App. Dec. 20, 2011) (slip op.). The Court of Appeals relied on this summary in reviewing Mr. Taylor's petition for postconviction relief. See Taylor v. State (Taylor II), No. 06A01-1511-PC-1876, 2016 WL 6358858, at *1-2 (Oct. 28, 2016) (slip op.).

         Because the details of the conduct underlying Mr. Taylor's charges are not in dispute and have little significance for the issues asserted in Mr. Taylor's petition, the Court provides only an overview here. Over a period of ten years, Mr. Taylor engaged in various sexual acts with his minor stepchild, N.H. These acts began in 1999, when N.H. was about seven years old and lived in Boone County with Mr. Taylor and her mother, S.H. They occurred multiple times per week. Mr. Taylor's actions in Boone County included sexually fondling N.H. and forcing her to give and receive oral sex. Id. at *1.

         In December 2019, N.H. reported her abuse to her mother and then to police. Detectives recorded a phone conversation between Mr. Taylor and N.H. in which Mr. Taylor acknowledged engaging in sexual acts with N.H. and that “it happened a lot.” In that conversation, Mr. Taylor also apologized to N.H. and explained that he molested her because he “was in love with [her]” and “wanted to teach [her] what sex was supposed to be like . . . .” Mr. Taylor was arrested and taken to Hendricks County Jail. Id. at *1-2.

         As the Indiana Court of Appeals summarized in reviewing Mr. Taylor's petition for postconviction relief, he was charged with molesting N.H. in both Boone County and Hendricks County:

Taylor was charged in Hendricks County with ten counts for the most recent offenses against N.H., including two counts of Class A felony child molesting, four counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor, two counts of Class C felony misconduct with a minor, Class C felony child molesting, and Class D felony child seduction. Based on the same investigation, in February 2010, the State charged Taylor in Boone County with one count of Class B felony child molesting based upon sexual deviate conduct, which had occurred before the offenses charged in Hendricks County. Taylor hired attorney Allen Lidy (“Lidy”) to represent him in both cases.

Id. at *2.

         In September 2010, while awaiting trial, Mr. Taylor sent a letter to Mr. Lidy asking for information about his charges and how to approach them. In this letter, Mr. Taylor:

explained that he did not know how much longer he could “take being locked up” because of his blood pressure. Taylor asked [L]idy why Boone County had only charged him with one Class B felony while Hendricks County had charged him with ten offenses, which included Class A, B, C, and D felonies, and whether there were discrepancies in N.H.'s and her mother's depositions. Taylor also asked the likelihood of “beating the charges in Hendricks County and beating the charges in Boone County.” Taylor further asked Lidy what the State was offering in pleas and what he should do.

Id. (citations omitted).

         At the postconviction hearing, Mr. Lidy explained his approach to Mr. Taylor's defense.

         The Indiana Court of appeals summarized that testimony as follows:

Although Lidy hoped for a “global plea, meaning a plea that would encompass both cases in both counties, ” with concurrent sentences that would not subject sixty-two-year-old Taylor to a de facto life sentence, the only offer from Hendricks County was for Taylor to plead guilty to Class A felony child molesting with a cap of forty-five years executed. Taylor, however, did not want to admit to a Class A felony offense, and trial was scheduled for February 14, 2011. At the time, there were no plea negotiations with or offers from Boone County.

Id. (citations omitted).

         Eventually, Mr. Lidy was presented with a plea offer from the Boone County prosecutor, but he did not communicate that offer to Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Taylor was ultimately convicted in Boone County on two charges of A-felony child molesting:

In January 2011, the Boone County prosecutor offered Taylor the opportunity to plead guilty as charged to the Class B felony offense by the January 24, 2011 plea agreement deadline. If Taylor did not accept the offer, the State planned to amend the information to two Class A felony child molesting charges based upon Taylor's age. Lidy did not communicate this plea offer to Taylor, and the plea agreement deadline passed without resolution of the case. The trial court subsequently granted the State's motion to amend the information to two counts of Class A felony child molesting. A jury convicted ...

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