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Heironimus v. Brown

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

September 13, 2018

RICHARD BROWN, Warden, Respondent.


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Petitioner Jeffrey S. Heironimus is serving an 18-month sentence for a state conviction[1] and a separate 18-year sentence for his 2012 Vanderburgh County, Indiana, conviction for robbery and his adjudication as a habitual offender. The sentences are consecutive. He brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Heironimus' 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.

         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 relevant facts and procedural history:

On May 26, 2011, Heironimus robbed the First Federal Savings Bank in Evansville wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack. Heironimus insinuated that he had a gun by placing his hand in his backpack and took over $3900 in cash, which included $200 in recorded bait money. The bank's alarm service immediately notified police. Witnesses Bradford Talley and James Hendrix saw a man with a dark hooded sweatshirt and a backpack leave the bank, walk quickly to an alley behind the bank, and get into a red pickup truck that had quickly pulled into the alley. The truck was described as a red Ford F-250 extended cab truck with damage on both sides. Tr. p. 56.
Fourteen minutes after receiving the alert from the bank, Evansville Police Department Sergeant Brian Hildebrandt saw a truck matching the given description parked across the street from 1000 North Third Avenue, which was one mile from the bank. The truck's headlights were on, the keys were in the ignition, and the exhaust pipe was still warm. Sergeant Hildebrandt called for a canine unit, and a police dog arrived that was certified and trained to detect ground disturbances and human odor. The dog sniffed the outside of the truck and followed the scent to the back door of 1000 North Third Avenue. Despite the officer's attempt to get the dog to move on, the dog returned to the back door of the house and would not leave. The officer and the dog stayed at the back door to ensure that no one could leave that way.
More officers arrived at the scene, and based on their belief that the robbery suspects were in the house and might be armed, they decided to secure and clear the house. Officers knocked on the front door and were let inside by a resident of the home, Billy Hack. The officers cleared the house, bringing the approximately seven occupants outside, but did not otherwise search the house. Heironimus and Vincent Driskell, the man who drove the truck away from the robbery, were two of the occupants brought outside. They were handcuffed and detained for show-up identifications.
Sergeant Hildebrandt brought Talley and Hendrix to the scene, and Talley identified Heironimus as the passenger of the red truck. Both Talley and Hendrix identified Driskell as the driver. The bank teller was also brought to the scene and saw that Heironimus matched the physical description of the robber; she later saw Heironimus's photograph on television and definitively recognized him as the robber.
Officers later obtained a search warrant for the house and found $1500 in cash in a room upstairs. The bait money was also surrendered to the police by Driskell's wife, Melissa Hall, the day after the robbery. Additionally, police searched the red truck, finding the registration indicating it belonged to Driskell. An officer with previous knowledge of the truck also confirmed that the truck was Driskell's.
The State charged Heironimus with Class C felony robbery with a habitual offender enhancement. Heironimus filed a motion to suppress the identification evidence, arguing that the identifications were the fruits of an illegal entry by police into the home. The trial court conducted a hearing, and the State argued that the house was not Heironimus's residence. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. A jury trial was held, and Heironimus was found guilty. Heironimus was sentenced to eight years at the Department of Correction, with an additional ten years for the habitual-offender enhancement, for a total executed sentence of eighteen years.

Heironimus v. State, 2012 WL 5378139, *1-2 (Ind.Ct.App. Nov. 1, 2012) (“Heironimus I”); see also dkt. 10-7 at 2-4.

         Mr. Heironimus appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting the witness identifications of Talley and Hendrix that were the product of a warrantless, unconstitutional entry into what he characterized as his residence. See dkt. 10-5; Heironimus I at *2. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. Id. at *3. Mr. Heironimus did not file a petition for transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. See Dkt. 10-3.

         On May 23, 2013, Mr. Heironimus filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. Mr. Heironimus later filed an amended petition, arguing that he received ineffective assistance when trial counsel failed to move for a directed verdict due to an alleged lack of evidence that he had threatened the use of force and when his appellate counsel failed to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence. On February 8, 2016, the post-conviction court entered its order denying relief. Mr. Heironimus appealed, raising the same grounds. On October 17, 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the state post-conviction court's denial of relief. Heironimus v. State, 2016 WL 6070339 (Ind.Ct.App. ...

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