February 11, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois. No. 3:13-cv-00778-CJP - David R.
Ripple, Kanne, and Williams, Circuit Judges.
Ripple, Circuit Judge.
Carrion was convicted of residential burglary and of
first-degree murder following a bench trial in the Circuit
Court of Cook County, Illinois. The state courts affirmed his
conviction on direct appeal and on state postconviction
review. Mr. Carrion then filed a habeas petition in federal
court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he raised
multiple claims for relief. The district court denied his
petition, concluding that although the petition probably was
timely filed, most of the claims were procedurally defaulted
and the remaining claims were meritless; the court further
declined to grant a certificate of appealability
("COA"). Mr. Carrion then appealed to this court,
and we granted a COA instructing the parties to address three
questions: whether there was sufficient evidence to support
his convictions, whether Mr. Carrion's confession was
voluntary, and whether appellate counsel had been ineffective
in failing to challenge the voluntariness of his confession.
briefing and oral argument, we conclude that, whether we
apply the deferential review of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d), or de novo review, Mr. Carrion is not
entitled to relief on any of these claims. There is no
question that the State of Illinois met its burden of proving
each of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. We further
perceive no due process violation in the reception into
evidence of Mr. Carrion's statement, even though it was
translated by an investigating officer. Any ambiguities in
the statement were examined thoroughly at trial and the state
trial court was entitled to admit and rely upon the
statement. Accordingly, for the reasons set out more fully in
this opinion, we affirm the district court's denial of
Mr. Carrion's habeas petition.
early morning hours of July 14, 2001, Francisco Carrion
entered the first-floor apartment of sixty-nine-year-old
Maryanne Zymali in Palatine, Illinois. Zymali confronted Mr.
Carrion, and he stabbed her multiple times causing her death.
At the time of the incident, Mr. Carrion, who lived in an
apartment on the floor above Zymali's, was a
nineteen-year-old immigrant from Mexico who spoke almost no
English. Approximately two weeks after the murder, Mr.
Carrion was interviewed in Spanish by Detective Arturo
Delgadillo. He denied any involvement with Zymali's
death, but he agreed to provide fingerprint samples.
January 7, 2002, Mr. Carrion was arrested by Detective
Delgadillo after his fingerprint was found on a knife
recovered from Zymali's apartment. The police took him to
the police station, advised him of his Miranda
rights in Spanish, and then interviewed him twice. Detective
Delgadillo conducted the first interview in Spanish; an
assistant state's attorney conducted the second interview
on camera with Detective Delgadillo acting as translator. On
January 31, 2002, the State charged Mr. Carrion with
residential burglary under 720 ILCS 5/19-3(a), and three
counts of first-degree murder (intentional murder, knowing
murder, and felony murder predicated on residential burglary)
under 720 ILCS 5/9-1 (a). Mr. Carrion waived his right to a
jury, and the case proceeded to a bench trial in June 2004.
trial, the State's forensic scientist testified that Mr.
Carrion's fingerprint and palm print were found on a
knife recovered from the apartment. The parties then
stipulated to the nature of Zymali's injuries, which
included stab wounds to her chin and forearm, a stab wound to
her chest that "resulted in massive internal
hemorrhaging, " and "multiple bruises and
abrasions" on her thigh, forehead, chin, chest, abdomen,
and right arm. The parties further stipulated that the
stab wounds caused Zymali's death.
State then called Detective Delgadillo to testify. According
to the officer, Mr. Carrion stated during the first of the
two interviews that, in the early morning of July 14, 2001,
after a night of drinking at a nearby bar, he was walking
home and noticed a light in Zymali's ground-floor
apartment. Mr. Carrion said that he "became curious as
to what was inside, " and he entered through the open
sliding glass door and unlocked screen door. Detective
Delgadillo further testified that Mr. Carrion said that he
entered the apartment because he was "looking to steal
something." While Mr. Carrion "was in the kitchen
looking around, " he was confronted by Zymali, who
"started to attack him, scratching him, kicking him,
fight[ing] him and that pretty much a fight ensued, a
struggle ensued." The officer further testified that Mr.
Carrion told him that Zymali then pulled a knife out of a
kitchen drawer, that Mr. Carrion took the knife from her, and
that after additional struggle, "he pushed her with both
hands, " which resulted in his "stabb[ing] her in
the stomach area with the knife." According to the
officer, Mr. Carrion stated that he then pulled the knife out
of Zymali's chest and threw it across the room. When
Zymali fell to her knees bleeding, Mr. Carrion became scared
and ran out of the apartment, "went around the
building/' "climbed onto his balcony and entered his
Delgadillo next testified about the second interrogation in
which he acted as translator between Mr. Carrion and the
assistant state's attorney. He said that on the night of
the arrest, Mr. Carrion was taken to meet with an assistant
state's attorney and agreed to give a videotaped
statement. During this interview, which took place around
midnight and lasted half an hour, the prosecutor posed
questions in English, and Detective Delgadillo translated the
questions to Spanish and then translated Mr. Carrion's
responses from Spanish to English. The court admitted into
evidence both the video and a transcription of the interview
that had been prepared by someone other than Detective
Delgadillo. At the conclusion of the officer's
testimony, the video interview was played in open court, and
the State rested its case.
defense called three witnesses: Mr. Carrion's friend
Brenda Viveros, a certified interpreter named Ruth Ramos, and
Mr. Carrion himself. Viveros testified that she was with Mr.
Carrion on the night in question and that Mr. Carrion was
drunk, that "[h]e was talking funny and just having
trouble walking, " and that "[h]e asked [her] to
take him home because he was not feeling
good." On cross-examination, Viveros acknowledged
that she did not ask the bartender to stop serving Mr.
Carrion, nor did she call a cab or arrange a ride for him,
but she stated that she did tell another friend of theirs to
make sure that Mr. Carrion stopped drinking. Viveros
testified that she did not see Mr. Carrion leave the bar, but
that she did go looking for him after the bar closed and
found him sleeping in his bed in his apartment. Viveros did
not see any injuries on Mr. Carrion at that time.
testified that she reviewed the videotape of Mr.
Carrion's interview with the assistant state's
attorney several times and prepared her own transcription of
the conversation. She went on to testify as follows:
[Mr. Carrion's counsel]:
Q Do you remember a question put to Francisco Carrion by
"Q: And what happened when you got close to your
Do you remember that question being asked?
Q All right. Did you hear Francisco Carrion answer that
question in Spanish?
Q Did you take that answer in Spanish and transcribe it into
Q What was his answer in English?
A His answer was, [reading from her prepared transcription]
"I ... well ... I look down and I saw a ... the
apartment and I saw the light on. It seemed like an easy
thing to do, I don't know. I became curious ... I
didn't even know what I was going to do ... "
Q Did he finish that answer?
A As far as I remember, when viewing the video, I think his
answer was cut off. ...
Q But he did say, "I don't know. I became curious. I
didn't even know what I was going to do it." Is that
Q Do you remember a question put by Delgadillo to Carrion ...
"When you first came in the apartment, what were you
A Yes, I remember the question.
Q Did you hear Francisco Carrion answer that question in
Q What was that answer?
A Answer, [reading from her prepared transcription] "I
didn't even know what I wanted, I just got in to see what
thing ... just to look around ... I didn't even know what
I was going to take, it's like ..." And then an
testifying about specific translated questions and answers,
Ramos was asked whether, based on her experience and training
as an interpreter, she believed that "Officer
Del-gadillo's rendering of Francisco Carrion's
answers in Spanish to English was truthful, complete, and
accurate." Ramos answered:
A Well, I believe there were some omissions. When the
questions ... were posed in Spanish, and there were some
omissions when the answers were posed in Spanish to be
translated into English. I also believe that there were ...
some errors, grammatical errors in sentence structure in the
Spanish language, the way the questions were posed to Mr.
Q Could you consider or would you consider Detective
Delgadillo's rendering of Carrion's answers from
Spanish to English to be verbatim?
A Yes. Ramos further testified on
Q [W]hen you were able to hear the officer ask, "[Were]
you looking for something to take?" You heard the
defendant's answer, Carrion's answer, "Well ...
possibly yes. If I had found something ...