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Jackson v. Britton

April 6, 2010

RHONSHAWN JACKSON
v.
SUPERINTENDENT BRITTON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lowell A. Reed, Jr., Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this court is a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. No. 1) filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Rhonshawn Jackson, ("Jackson"), the response thereto (Doc. No. 8), and Jackson's replies (Doc. Nos. 18 and 20). Jackson, who is currently incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, challenges his incarceration for first degree murder, violations of the Uniform Firearms Act, and possession of an instrument of crime. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 17, 2000, Robert Isaacs and Arnold Savage were drinking together at the Whisper's Inn bar. (N.T. 9/26/01, 51-53). Jackson was also at the bar that evening. (N.T. 9/26/01, 51-53). Commonwealth witness Angela Geiger testified at trial that sometime between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., she observed Mr. Isaacs and Jackson engage in a heated argument in the back of the bar. (N.T. 9/28/01, 9). At approximately 11:00 p.m., Jeffrey Ellison offered to give Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Savage a ride home. (N.T. 10/2/01, 26). After the three men exited the bar, Mr. Ellison told Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Savage that he would be right back and then walked up the street. (N.T. 10/2/01, 27-28). Jackson had left the bar earlier. (N.T. 9/26/01, 56-57). Upon returning to the bar area, Mr. Ellison testified that he saw Jackson pointing a gun at Mr. Isaacs. (N.T. 10/2/01, 29). Mr. Ellison immediately yelled at Jackson to put the gun down, but after Mr. Isaacs grabbed for the weapon, Jackson took a step back, shot Mr. Isaacs from a few feet away, and then fled the scene. (N.T. 9/28/01, 10-15; 10/2/01, 29-31). Mr. Isaacs was pronounced dead at 11:37 p.m. (N.T. 10/2/01, 9-10).

Wade Briscoe testified at Jackson's trial. He stated that while he and Jackson were in prison together, Jackson admitted that he had robbed a pizza store and then later the same day, also killed Mr. Isaacs. (N.T. 9/28/01, 146-150). Jackson disclosed to Mr. Briscoe that he had asked Mr. Isaacs to come outside with him after the two men had an altercation in the bar, and that he shot Mr. Isaacs in the chest outside the bar. (N.T. 9/28/01, 151, 157-159).

After a jury trial before the Honorable Jane Cutler Greenspan, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Jackson was convicted of first degree murder, violations of the Uniform Firearms Act, and possession of an instrument of crime. On November 29, 2001, Jackson was sentenced to life imprisonment for first degree murder as well as consecutive terms of 3 to 7 years of imprisonment for violations of the Uniform Firearms Act and 1 to 5 years of imprisonment for possession of an instrument of crime.

Jackson filed a direct appeal asserting the following claims:

1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for first degree murder;

2) the verdict was against the weight of the evidence;

3) the trial court erred in permitting evidence that Jackson had robbed a pizza store earlier on the same day as the murder; and

4) ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to present the testimony of Gregory Young, who allegedly would have testified that there was no confrontation between Jackson and the victim on the night of the murder.

On May 5, 2003, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Jackson, 829 A.2d 359 (Pa. Super. 2003); No. 62 EDA 2002 (Pa. Super. May 5, 2003) (unpublished memorandum), attached as Ex. "A" to Respondents' Answer to the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 8; hereinafter "Answer"). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Jackson's petition for allowance of appeal on November 14, 2003. Commonwealth v. Jackson, 837 A.2d 1178 (Pa. 2003).

On June 17, 2004, Jackson filed a pro se petition under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. Con. Stat. § 9541, et seq. Counsel was appointed and subsequently filed an amended petition. The PCRA court dismissed Jackson's petition without a hearing on March 9, 2006.

On appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Jackson argued that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a jury charge on both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and for failing to request a jury charge regarding witness bias. On September 17, 2007, the Superior Court affirmed the denial of Jackson's PCRA petition.

Commonwealth v. Jackson, 938 A.2d 1115 (Pa. Super. 2007); No. 710 EDA 2006 (Pa. Super. Sept. 17, 2007) (unpublished memorandum), attached as Ex. "B" to Respondents' Answer. Jackson filed a petition for allowance of appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which was denied on May 29, 2008. Commonwealth v. Jackson, 952 A.2d 675 (Pa. 2008).

On August 12, 2008,*fn1 Jackson filed this petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus ...


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