Corral v. Foster, No. 20-1665 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Brautigam, Jimenez, and two children were parked in a van when a man shot at Brautigam through his open window. Both men identified Corral as the shooter. Brautigam had known Corral for 15 years; both were members of the Latin Kings gang. Corral’s counsel argued that those identifications, the only evidence tying Corral to the crime, were unreliable. He insinuated that both men were drug addicts trying to buy heroin and that they made inconsistent statements about the shooting. Corral’s counsel argued that the real shooter was a juvenile, "Kenny," who was with Corral during the shooting, wearing the same color clothing and the same hat. Kenny alternated between implicating himself and Corral. Kenny did not appear before the jury. During deliberations, the jury asked “Do we know the height, weight[,] and race of [Kenny]?” Because the parties had not submitted any evidence of Kenny’s appearance, the court answered that “the jury is required to rely on their collective recollections.” Corral was convicted for attempted homicide, three counts of recklessly endangering the safety of others, recklessly using a firearm, and bail-jumping.
State courts rejected his post-conviction argument that his attorney was ineffective for failing to present evidence of Corral and Kenny’s likeness. Counsel testified that he did not present evidence of Kenny’s appearance because, after seeing them both, he thought that Kenny did not look like Corral, who was 10 years older. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of federal habeas relief. Corral failed to demonstrate that the state court unreasonably applied federal law in determining that his counsel made a sound strategic decision not to present appearance evidence.