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Bronson v. Kelchner

December 23, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay


Purcell Bronson ("Petitioner") is a twice-convicted murderer. While serving a life sentence in prison for his first conviction for murder of the second degree, he committed his second murder by killing a fellow inmate for which he was convicted of first degree murder. It is that second conviction for murder which Petitioner seeks to attack via the present habeas petition.

Because his petition is time barred, it is properly dismissed. Alternatively because he has procedurally defaulted most of his claims, the petition is properly dismissed. Lastly, because he fails to establish entitlement to relief under AEDPA by failing to even argue the State Courts' disposition was contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedents, the petition is properly dismissed.

I. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

Petitioner is deemed, pursuant to the prisoner mail box rule, to have filed the instant habeas petition, at the earliest, on July 22, 2007, the date whereon he signed his habeas petition. Dkt. [17]. In that petition, he raised the following issues:

Ground One: Evidence wrongly obtained . . .

Prison officials seized my outgoing mail and used the content as an exhibit at trial against me.

Ground Two: Bias[ed] Judge. . . .

Sentencing Judge issue[d] an ex parte opinion in my absence directing prison officials as to how to confine me.

Ground Three: Prosecutorial misconduct. . . .

D.A. Conrad direct[ed] prison officials to search my prison property for evidence to use against me.

Ground Four: Insufficiency of [the] evidence. . . .

The Commonwealth failed [to carry] its burden to prove the element of intent for first degree murder and/or disprove my defense of self defense.

Dkt. [17] at 9 to 12. The Respondents filed an answer, Dkt. [24], raising, inter alia, AEDPA's statute of limitations defense and the fact that Petitioner procedurally defaulted some of his claims because his PCRA petition was untimely filed and for other reasons as well. Petitioner filed a traverse but failed to address the AEDPA statute of limitations argument. Dkt. [29].

A. The State Court Proceedings

Petitioner represented himself at trial but had back up counsel with a Public Defender. He was convicted by a jury of first degree murder on June 12, 1995 and was sentenced to life in prison on June 13, 1995, being that the jury was unable to reach a verdict of death. In the sentencing order, the Trial Judge wrote the following:

AND NOW, to wit this 13th day of June 1995, in open Court, defendant appearing with counsel the sentence of the law is that you, Purcell Bronson, pay a fine of 61/4 cents to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pay the costs of prosecution and undergo an imprisonment for the period of your natural life and stand committed, and be sent to the Western Correctional Diagnostic and Classification Center at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be transferred to such institution as may be deemed appropriate. This sentence is to begin and take effect at the expiration of the sentence the defendant is now serving.

Moreover in an effort to prevent further harm to other persons, the court makes the following findings of fact:

(1) On December 8, 1967, the defendant was sentenced to three to ten years for the rape of Lolly Mae Douglas.

(2) On October 6, 1972, while in prison, the defendant was sentenced to two to four years in prison for the stabbing of Curt Rutan.

(3) On November 26, 1979, the defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and robbery of Howard Ivy.

(4) On June 13, 1995, while serving that life sentence, the defendant was found guilty of First Degree Murder for the killing of Lance Jolly.

(5) The defendant was 46 years of age that the time of the murder: the deceased was 20 years of age.

(6) The record in this case indicates that the defendant, by virtue of his intelligence, his ruthlessness, his incessant stream of lawsuits, and his substantial bank account, is a power within the walls of the prison.

(7) As long as the defendant breathes, he will be a danger to the safety and lives of the guards and prisoners within the prison walls.

WHEREFORE, the Court strenuously urges the governor and the commissioner of corrections to take whatever lawful measures that are possible to confine the defendant for the duration of his natural life in such a manner that he is unable to harm or kill another human being. The court further directs that these findings and ...

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