United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS
R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE
a bench trial in Marion County, Indiana, petitioner Robert
Taylor was convicted of one count of rape and sentenced to a
17-year prison term. Mr. Taylor now seeks a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He argues that (1)
the master commissioner who presided over his trial did so
without subject-matter jurisdiction, thereby violating Mr.
Taylor's right to due process, (2) the prosecutor
committed misconduct by introducing DNA evidence recovered
from the victim's pantiliner, (3) the prosecutor
committed misconduct by eliciting the victim's
identification of Mr. Taylor, and (4) post-conviction counsel
was ineffective. These claims do not warrant habeas relief,
so Mr. Taylor's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
denied and a certificate of appealability
will not issue.
habeas review requires the Court to “presume that the
state court's factual determinations are correct unless
the petitioner rebuts the presumption by clear and convincing
evidence.” Perez-Gonzalez v. Lashbrook, 904
F.3d 557, 562 (7th Cir. 2018); see 28 U.S.C. §
2254(e)(1). On direct appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals
summarized the relevant facts and procedural history as
On June 27, 2009, S.S. was homeless and living in a shelter
on 10th Street near downtown Indianapolis. Late that Saturday
morning, she was walking down 10th Street toward Pennsylvania
Avenue to a location where she could have a free lunch in a
park. While walking past a construction zone, a man pulled
his car up by the curb and asked if she needed a ride. S.S.
declined. Shortly thereafter, the man grabbed her from behind
and dragged her up a hill where he threw her on the ground,
pulled off her shorts and underwear, and raped her. After
ejaculating inside her, the man then went back down the hill
and drove away.
Distraught and unable to call 911, S.S. dressed and then
walked to the park for lunch. Several hours later, S.S.
encountered a good friend and told her about the rape. The
friend helped her call police. S.S. described her attacker as
a black male in his twenties or thirties, about five feet and
ten inches tall, with short hair and a thin build. Detective
David Everman took S.S. to Methodist Hospital to be examined
by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). SANE Robin Brannan
collected swabs from S.S., as well as the underwear S.S. wore
after the attack. A panty liner was attached to the
underwear. Brannan apparently did not notice the panty liner,
as it was not separated from the underwear or documented. The
underwear with the panty liner were bagged together, sealed,
and included in the rape kit. Thereafter, the rape kit, which
was stored in a locked refrigerator, was collected by the
Marion County Crime Lab and securely stored at the lab.
Shannin Guy, a forensic scientist with the Marion County
Forensic Services Agency, conducted serology and DNA analysis
on the material collected in the rape kit. Guy identified the
presence of seminal material on the vaginal cervical swab,
the speculum swab, the vaginal wash, and the panty liner. She
then performed DNA analysis on a portion of the seminal
material collected from each of these four items. Analysis
revealed that the male DNA profiles from each item matched,
identifying the same unknown male individual. Guy submitted
the profile from the seminal material found on the panty
liner to CODIS, which resulted in a match to Taylor in August
2010. After obtaining a buccal swab from Taylor, Guy
performed further DNA analysis, directly matching his DNA to
the seminal material found on the vaginal cervical swab, the
speculum swab, the vaginal wash, and the panty liner.
Detective Everman met with S.S. on October 15, 2010 and
presented her with a photo array. S.S. was unable to identify
her attacker. The detective then directed her to Taylor's
picture and indicated that there had been a DNA match.
On November 18, 2010, the State charged Taylor with class B
felony rape and class D felony criminal confinement. Taylor
unsuccessfully sought to suppress the DNA results. Following
a bench trial on December 7, 2011, Taylor was found guilty as
charged. A judgment of conviction, however, was entered only
on the rape charge, and the trial court imposed an executed
sentence of seventeen years.
Taylor v. State, 2012 WL 4077898, at *1-2
(Ind.Ct.App. Sept. 18, 2012).
direct appeal, Mr. Taylor argued, as relevant here, that the
victim's identification of Mr. Taylor and the DNA
evidence recovered from the victim's pantiliner were
improperly admitted. Dkt. 12-3 at 4-9. The appellate court
affirmed. Taylor, 2012 WL 4077898. Mr. Taylor did
not petition to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Taylor next filed a post-conviction petition in the state
trial court. Taylor v. State, 2018 WL 388072, at *2
(Ind.Ct.App. Jan. 12, 2018). His counsel withdrew from
representation, and Mr. Taylor withdrew his petition without
prejudice. Id. Mr. Taylor then filed another
petition, which the trial court denied after a hearing.
Id. On post-conviction appeal, Mr. Taylor argued
that (1) the master commissioner who presided over his trial
lacked jurisdiction to do so, (2) the prosecutor committed
misconduct by introducing DNA evidence recovered from the
victim's pantiliner, (3) the prosecutor committed
misconduct by eliciting the victim's confession, and (4)
post-conviction counsel was ineffective for withdrawing
representation and failing to argue ineffective assistance of
direct appeal counsel. Dkt. 12-9 at 8-20. The appellate court
affirmed, Taylor, 2018 WL 388072, and the Indiana
Supreme Court denied transfer, dkt. 12-8 at 10.
Taylor filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on June
28, 2018, raising the same claims raised in his
post-conviction appeal. Dkt. 1 at 5-10. Respondent concedes
the petition is timely, dkt. 15, but he asserts that claims
1, 2, and 3 are procedurally defaulted, dkt. 12 at 9-11.