United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
GECOBA L. TILSON ADC#115355 PETITIONER
WENDY KELLEY, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT
following Recommended Disposition
(“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States
District Judge D. P. Marshall, Jr. You may file written
objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do
so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the
factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be
received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days
of the entry of this Recommendation. The failure to timely
file objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal
questions of fact.
before the Court is a § 2254 Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner, Gecoba L. Tilson
(“Tilson”). Doc. 2. Before addressing
Tilson's habeas claims, the Court will review the
procedural history of the case in state court.
3, 2012, a Faulkner County jury convicted Tilson of two
counts of aggravated robbery, one felony count of theft of
property, and one misdemeanor count of theft of property.
Doc. 7-2. He received an aggregate sentence of 23
years' imprisonment. Id.
appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, which affirmed his
convictions on September 18, 2013. Tilson v. State,
2013 Ark.App. 510. Tilson did not file a petition for review
with the Arkansas Supreme Court.
December 10, 2013, Tilson filed a pro se Rule 37
Petition in Faulkner County Circuit Court raising various
ineffective-assistance of counsel claims. Doc. 7-9.
On January 10, 2013, the trial court entered an Order denying
Rule 37 relief on the merits, without addressing
whether Tilson's Rule 37 Petition was timely. Doc.
7-13 & 14.
appealed the denial of Rule 37 relief. On February 5, 2015,
the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Rule 37
relief based solely on the ground the petition was filed too
late. Tilson v. State, Supreme Court of
Arkansas Case No. CR-14-383 (February 5, 2015); Doc.
January 29, 2016, Tilson initiated this pro se
habeas action. Doc. 2. He argues that his trial
counsel was constitutionally ineffective because he committed
three separate trial errors. Respondent argues that
Tilson's habeas claims are time-barred and,
alternatively, procedurally defaulted. Doc. 7.
all of Tilson's habeas claims are barred by the one-year
statute of limitations contained in 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1), the Court recommends that this habeas action be
dismissed, with prejudice.
Facts Supporting Tilson's Conviction
was convicted of robbing, at gun-point, the Tobacco
Superstore in Conway, Arkansas. Dana Clark, the former
manager of the Tobacco Superstore, testified that, shortly
before closing on Friday, August 7, 2009, two black men
entered the Tobacco Superstore, pointed guns at her, and
demanded: “Give me the g-d money.” The robbers
took approximately $1320 from the register, cigarettes, and
her cell phone. Other witnesses testified that the robbers
then fled on foot.
after the robbery, the police, with the help of a search dog,
found Charles Foster hiding in thick weeds within three or
four blocks of the crime scene. Police found a purse
belonging to Kerri Bradley, a store employee, and cigars
taken from the store. A gun was found nearby. Police arrested
concluded that the robbery was an “inside” job.
They believed that Kerri Bradley, who was working in the
store when the robbery took place, was involved. Shortly
after the robbery, police arrested Kerri Bradley at the
store. Police also arrested her boyfriend, Keith Tilson, when
he came to pick her up from work, because they believed he
too participated in the robbery. Keith Tilson is Petitioner
Gecoba Tilson's brother.
making these three arrests, the police went to the apartment
of Keith Tilson and Kerri Bradley in the early morning hours
of August 8. Petitioner Gecoba Tilson was in the apartment
when police knocked, but refused to open the door.
calling a SWAT team, police took Tilson into custody at
approximately 3:25 a.m. on Saturday, August 8,
police then executed two search warrants at the apartment. In
the first search, they found a sweaty shirt believed to have
been worn by Tilson during the robbery. In the second search,
they found a cell phone taken from Dana Clark and tennis
shoes believed to have been worn by Tilson during the
robbery. Both items were shown to the jury at trial, along
with video footage of the robbery.
his arrest, Tilson gave two voluntary statements to the
police. Both statements were recorded and played for the jury
at trial. In the first statement, Tilson denied any
involvement in the robbery. In the second statement, one day
later, Tilson confessed that he was the second gunman in the
robbery and ...