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Engram v. Krueger

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

May 15, 2019

WILLIE C. ENGRAM, Petitioner,
v.
J. E. KRUEGER, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241 AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          HON. WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, SENIOR JUDGE

         Petitioner Willie C. Engram, a federal inmate currently housed at the U.S. Penitentiary, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He argues that he is entitled to relief because the Superior Court and Appellate Court for the District of Columbia have refused to entertain or rule on his motions for collateral relief, and in any case the District of Columbia lost jurisdiction in 1981. He further argues that the United States Parole Commission has violated his due process rights by refusing to grant him a parole hearing even though he has been incarcerated for over 45 years. Finally, he argues he is actually innocent. For the reasons explained below, his petition is denied.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Engram's § 2241 petition relates primarily to his 1976 convictions in the District of Columbia for rape and assault. However, the Court will discuss his full criminal history beginning approximately 1972 onwards as it is relevant to the disposition of this petition.

         A. D.C. Burglary and Assault (Docket 7485-73)

         Engram was paroled on October 19, 1972, from his sentence for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and robbery. Dkt. No. 20 (sealed) at 14. According to the presentence report (PSR), on November 9, 1972, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Engram arrived at the D.C. apartment of Paula Gaffney. Gaffney answered the door and recognized Engram as being a friend of her cousin. She admitted Engram into her home and Engram, along with four other men, entered. All four men displayed handguns. One of the suspects ripped Gaffney's telephone from the wall, while another pressed a handgun to her chest and asked where she kept her money. Engram and the other suspects ransacked Gaffney's home. During their search, they brought Gaffney's six-year-old son down from an upstairs bedroom, placed a handgun to the young boy's head and threatened to kill him in front of Gaffney if she did not reveal the location of her hidden money. Engram and his co-defendants left shortly thereafter after threatening Gaffney with physical harm if she contacted the police. Id. at 13.

         Engram was arrested approximately two weeks later. Id. He posted bond and was released from custody on July 24, 1973, while he awaited his trial. Dkt. No. 19-1 at 3.

         Engram was charged with burglary I while armed, assault with intent to commit robbery, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Dkt. No. 20 at 10. A jury found him guilty on all counts. Dkt. No. 20 at 32. On October 26, 1973, he was sentenced to three to nine years' imprisonment on each count to run consecutive to each other. Id.

         In addition, in December 1973, the District of Columbia Board of Parole revoked Engram's parole for his robbery and unauthorized use of motor vehicle convictions and ordered that he serve the remainder of his sentence (approximately 1, 457 days). Id. at 25-26; Dkt. No. 19-2.

         B. D.C. Rape and Assaults (Docket 73988-73)

         On July 29, 1973, only five days after posting bond on his November 1972 offense, Engram and Keith Gaffney went to an acquaintance's apartment where Engram raped Janice Wade at gunpoint and shot Barbara Owens in the chest. Dkt. No. 20 at 24-25. After being shot, Owens crawled to a phone and attempted to call for an ambulance, but Engram took the phone from her hand. Engram and Keith Gaffney also robbed Melvin McAdory, who was also at the apartment. Engram then kidnapped Wade, drove her to another location and raped her a second time. Wade was released shortly thereafter.

         Later, while at the hospital, Owens identified Engram to the police. She stated that Engram had just been released from jail the preceding week. McAdory viewed a photo lineup and also identified Engram as being the one that shot Owens and robbed him. The police went to the D.C. jail and discovered that, consistent with Owens' story, Engram had just been released from custody the week before. Police went to Engram's home and, after finding him hiding in a basement, arrested him.

         In August of 1976, Engram was convicted by a jury of: assault with intent to commit rape while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, two counts of armed robbery, two counts of rape while armed, kidnapping, and carrying a pistol without a license. Dkt. No. 19-3. He was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 60 years to life imprisonment. Id. at 2; Dkt. No. 20 at 32.

         Engram filed an interlocutory appeal concerning whether the criminal and arrest records of some of the prosecution's witnesses were discoverable under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). United States v. Engram, 337 A.2d 488 (D.C. Court of Appeals May 14, 1975). Engram also appealed his conviction, arguing that he was denied a speedy trial, that the trial court failed to voir dire the jury concerning newspaper publicity and that the arrest and conviction records of government witnesses were not produced prior to trial. Gaffney v. United States, 421 A.2d 924, 925 (D.C. 1980). He appealed his sentence arguing that "the sentencing judge 'was not sufficiently familiar with the facts of the case to be able to render an appropriate sentence.'" Id. Engram's conviction and sentence were affirmed. Id.

         C. 1975 Inmate Assault (Docket 75-284)

         On March 17, 1975, while housed at the District of Columbia's Lorton Prison Complex and serving his parole violation and D.C. sentences, Engram assaulted a fellow inmate. He pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to a consecutive 10-year term of imprisonment. Dkt. No. 20 at 7, 33.

         D. 1983 Lorton Correctional Offense (Docket 83-269-A)

         On February 1, 1983, while housed at the Lorton Prison Complex and serving his federal and D.C. sentences, Engram was involved in the kidnapping and assault of correctional officers. He was found guilty by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. The federal district court imposed an aggregate sentence of 10 years' imprisonment to run consecutive to all his prior sentences. Dkt. No. 19-4; see also Dkt. No. 20 at 10-21. The Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction. United States v. Lorick, 753 F.2d 1295 (4th Cir. 1985).

         E. 1991 Lewisburg Penitentiary Offense ...


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