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Leach v. Klopotoski

October 28, 2009

CARL QUILLION LEACH, FF-4077, PETITIONER,
v.
MICHAEL D. KLOPOTOSKI, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mitchell, M.J.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Carl Quillion Leach, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas has presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus which he has been granted leave to prosecute in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed and because reasonable jurists could not conclude that a basis for appeal exists, a certificate of appealability will be denied.

Leach is presently serving a life sentence imposed following his conviction, by a jury, of first degree murder, firearm not to be carried without a license, and tampering with evidence, at No. 2907 of 2001 in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.*fn1 This sentence was imposed on January 3, 2003.*fn2

An appeal was taken to the Superior Court in which the questions presented were:

1. Whether the trial court erred in refusing to suppress the defendant's statements and other evidence derived from his illegal arrest when Miranda warnings given to the defendant failed to purge the taint of his unlawful arrest?

2. Whether the trial court erred in admitting the defendant's cell phone records under the inevitable discovery and independent source doctrines when the Commonwealth failed to prove that the evidence would have been discovered despite the initial taint of the defendant's illegal arrest?

3. Whether the trial court erred in failing to suppress the defendant's statements rendered over six hours after his initial detention when the defendant's continued custody in those six hours constituted an [illegal] arrest?

4. Whether the trial court erred in failing to suppress evidence acquired through the execution of various search warrants when the warrants were issued in reliance of illegally obtained evidence and omitted material facts that would have undermined the finding of probable cause?

5. Whether the trial court erred in failing to suppress evidence acquired through the execution of search warrants when the warrants were executed in a wholly unlawful fashion?

6. Whether the trial court erred in admitting Tiffany West's preliminary hearing testimony when the defendant lacked a full and fair opportunity to cross examine West concerning her undercover conversations with the defendant and her mental health problems which resulted in her suicide?

7. Whether the trial court erred in restricting the cross examination of Kirk Wynn regarding his arrest on drug charges where the questioning would have reflected Wynn's bias to testify favorably for the Commonwealth at trial?

8. Whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it could infer the defendant's consciousness of guilt based on evidence that he gave statements in variance with each other in connection with the incident when such an instruction served to diminish the Commonwealth's burden of proof?

9. Whether the verdict was contrary to weight of the evidence and contrary to law?*fn3

On October 20, 2004, the Superior Court affirmed the judgment of sentence.*fn4

A petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was filed in which the questions presented were:

1. Whether statements made as a result of an illegal search and seizure must be suppressed when subsequent Miranda warnings failed to purge the taint of an unlawful arrest?

2. Whether evidence may be admitted pursuant to the inevitable discovery and independent source doctrines when the Commonwealth failed to establish the evidence would have been discovered despite the initial taint of the illegal arrest?

3. Whether evidence acquired through the execution of search warrants must be suppressed when the warrants were executed in a wholly unlawful fashion?

4. Whether the trial court erred in admitting the testimony of a deceased witness when there was no full and fair opportunity to cross examine the witness regarding serious matters impacting her credibility?

5. Whether the trial court erred in restricting the cross examination of a critical government witness regarding his recent arrest on drug charges where the questioning would have reflected the bias of the witness to testify favorably for the Commonwealth?

6. Whether the trial court erred by instructing the jury that it could infer the defendant's consciousness of guilt when such an instruction served to diminish the Commonwealth's burden of proof?

7. Whether the verdict was against the weight of the evidence when the evidence established the defendant was not at the scene when the murder was committed?*fn5

On July 26, 2005, leave to appeal was denied.*fn6

On September 26, 2006, a post-conviction petition was filed.*fn7 The latter was denied ...


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