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Young v. District Attorney of the County of Allegheny

January 28, 2010

DAVID JAMES YOUNG, PETITIONER
v.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA; DAVID DIGUGLIELMO, RESPONDENTS



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

Chief Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

David James Young, ("Petitioner"), a state prisoner, was convicted in a jury trial of conspiracy to commit second degree murder during the commission of a robbery, when Damon Aforde, the intended victim of the robbery and a drug dealer, was shot to death. Petitioner was tried together with his co-defendant, who was also found guilty. Petitioner made a confession to the police where he confessed to intending to rob the victim along with his co-defendant, although he claimed in that statement that he intended to abandon the conspiracy to rob the victim. That confession was introduced at trial. Petitioner took the stand in his own defense and raised an alibi defense which was contradictory to what Petitioner stated in the confession, but the jury, apparently not crediting Petitioner's story on the stand, convicted him nonetheless. Petitioner has now filed a federal habeas petition pursuant to Section 2254, attacking his convictions. Petitioner raises several claims of trial court errors and several ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Because the state courts rejected most, if not all of the claims on the merits, and because Petitioner fails to show that the state courts' disposition of his claims was contrary to or an unreasonable application of United States Supreme Court precedent, his petition should be denied.

Relevant Factual and Procedural History

Petitioner filed his pro se habeas petition, Dkt. [1], in which he raised the following issues:

A. Ground one: Ineffective assistance of [trial] counsel for failing to object to hearsay. . . . .

My trail [sic] counsel did not object to the detective taking the stand an[d] saying that I told him a confession, with no evidence to support it . . . .

B. Ground two: Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to failing to [sic] file a timely alibi defense. . . .

My trail [sic] counsel told me that because the detective was saying I made this confession that I should go along with it and when I said no, he never even attempted to contact my alibi witnesses.

C. Ground three: Whether the Pennsylvania Courts erred when they failed to find petitioner's statements inadmissible as a result of Petitioner's illegal arrest. . . . .

Petitioner's conviction was based on illegally seized statements due to an unlawful arrest. The arrest affidavit did not support the arrest and was contrary to federal law.

D. Ground four: Ineffective assistance of [PCRA] counsel for failing to amend [the] PCRA petition. . . . .

Dkt. [1] at 9. Petitioner also filed a "MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF HABEAS CORPUS[.]" Dkt. [3]. The document is really a brief in support only of his claim raised above as Ground Three. The document is also a supplemental habeas petition in that it does not provide legal argument in support of the other three issues raised in the habeas petition but, in fact, it raises one additional issue as follows: "B. Whether the State Courts unreasonably applied well established U.S. Supreme Court law in not finding the evidence at trial was insufficient to convict petitioner of second-degree murder." Dkt. [3] at16.

The Respondents filed an answer, raising various defenses, including the argument that the issues raised were meritless. Dkt. [11]. The Respondents also caused the original state court records to be sent to this Court. Petitioner filed a traverse, Dkt. [15], wherein he addressed only two issues, namely, arguments concerning Ground Two, i.e., the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel for failing file a timely alibi defense, and the last issue raised in the Memorandum of law, i.e., the alleged insufficiency of the evidence. The Respondents filed a supplemental or amended answer, Dkt. [17], which did not address the traverse but merely ...


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