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Brown v. Coleman

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 1, 2013

CHARLES BROWN, Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN V. COLEMAN, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LISA PUPO LENIHAN, Chief Magistrate Judge.

Charles Brown (hereinafter referred to as "Petitioner") is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette. Pending before the Court is his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. He challenges his February 1, 2002 judgment of sentence for attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery of a motor vehicle, carrying an unlicensed firearm and recklessly endangering another person. Upon consideration of the submissions of both parties, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief and his Petition will be denied.

A. Relevant Factual and Procedural History

The facts of the crime as set forth by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in its Opinion dated March 10, 2011, are as follows:

On April 21, 2000, [Petitioner] was charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count each of aggravated assault, burglary, reckless endangerment, robbery of a motor vehicle, carrying an unlicensed firearm, and criminal mischief. On April 20, 2000, [Petitioner] broke into the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania apartment of his former girlfriend, Lisa B., who was not present, and destroyed various items therein. A resident of the apartment building followed [Petitioner], noticed that [Petitioner] was armed, and telephoned police. Pittsburgh Police Officer Chris Wydra was dispatched to the building and en route, he encountered [Petitioner], who shot Officer Wydra in his side and stole his police vehicle. Officer Wydra was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
On April 23, 2001, [Petitioner] proceeded to a non-jury trial, where the charges relating to the attempted murder of Lisa B. as well as the burglary and vandalism of Lisa B.'s home were withdrawn. After conducting a jury-trial-waiver colloquy, the court proceeded to hear the following evidence by means of stipulation. At approximately 5:45 p.m. on April 20, 2000, Pittsburgh Police Officers Bill Gorman and Chris Wydra were separately dispatched to an apartment building on Dawson Street in Pittsburgh based on a report that an armed intruder was on the premises. Officer Gorman arrived first and encountered Robert T., who informed him that [Petitioner] broke into Lisa B.'s apartment and fled the area armed with two handguns. Officer Gorman broadcast a description of the perpetrator and began to patrol the area.
As Officer Wydra was approaching the apartment building, he caught sight of [Petitioner], who was in the parking lot of Schenley Park Animal Hospital walking toward the Boulevard of the Allies. [Petitioner] matched the description of the suspect and signaled to Officer Wydra, who stopped his cruiser on Juliet Street and broadcast his whereabouts. [Petitioner] started to approach Officer Wydra and then stopped and fumbled with an object in his waistband. Officer Wydra yelled at [Petitioner] to display his hands when [Petitioner] pulled a revolver from his waist, pointed it at Officer Wydra, and emptied his gun. Officer Wydra was struck three times, twice in the bullet-proof vest and once in his side.
Officer Wydra retrieved his own weapon and returned three rounds before his gun malfunctioned. [Petitioner] sat down in the parking lot and started to fumble in his waistband a second time. Believing that [Petitioner] was retrieving another gun and unable to use his own, Officer Wydra retreated behind a parked car and reloaded a new magazine into his firearm. [Petitioner] approached Officer Wydra and then stopped when the officer pointed his gun at him. [Petitioner] entered the police cruiser and started to drive toward Officer Wydra, who fired additional rounds at the vehicle. [Petitioner] veered away from Officer Wydra as the cruiser was struck with bullets, and he crashed into a parked vehicle. Since [Petitioner] was no longer threatening to strike him with the police vehicle, Officer Wydra ceased firing and radioed for assistance. He was transported to a local hospital, where he remained overnight.
Other police officers arrived on the scene and initiated a search for [Petitioner], who had fled on foot after the crash. They discovered [Petitioner] concealed under debris in the shed of a nearby residence. In compliance with the officers' directive to come out and raise his hands, [Petitioner] displayed his hands, which were bloodied, but said that he was unable to leave the shed because he had been shot. [Petitioner] was removed and arrested. [Petitioner] "spontaneously stated he shot at that cop because he wanted to die and I wish he would have shot me." N.T. Trial, 4/23/01, at 24. Medical personnel were summoned to attend to [Petitioner], and he was transported to the hospital. Police recovered a.38 caliber gun at the scene but did not locate a second firearm.
The following day, Allegheny County Detective Chris Kerns went to the hospital to interview [Petitioner]. [Petitioner] was administered his Miranda warnings and asked about a missing.32 caliber weapon. [Petitioner] responded, "[D]on't you think if I had two guns I would have shot myself. There wasn't any.32." Id. at 24-25. [Petitioner] was informed that Officer Wydra was going to survive his wound, and he responded, "I wish he would have given me a head shot. The m___ f____ ain't going to pull up on me, I ain't stupid." Id. at 25. When asked why he shot at Officer Wydra, [Petitioner] responded that the officer had displayed his gun.
Lisa B. dated [Petitioner] for approximately one year prior to the incident, but they terminated their relationship shortly before April 20, 2000. [Petitioner] owned a.38 caliber handgun and a.32 caliber handgun, and Lisa B. found five rounds of.32 caliber ammunition and four rounds of.38 caliber ammunition in her apartment after the April 20, 2000 criminal episode and relinquished those items to police. Following their break-up, [Petitioner] unsuccessfully attempted to reconcile with Lisa B., and when she refused, he threatened to kill her. Additionally, in the past, [Petitioner] had told Lisa B., "that if she broke up with him, he would kill her then kill himself. He also made reference to wanting to go out in a gun fight with a cop. He stressed that to mean that he wanted to die in a gun fight with a cop." Id. at 26. Lisa B. did not believe that [Petitioner] would have carried through with his threats to kill her.
[Petitioner] vandalized Lisa B.'s, apartment on April 17, 2000, and April 18, 2000, and she began to stay with a relative. Lisa B. had spoken with [Petitioner] following the shooting, and he acknowledged that what he did was wrong but also believed that police had acted improperly. Specifically, [Petitioner] told Lisa B. that Officer Wydra shot and struck [Petitioner] as he was attempting to obtain his gun to give it to the officer and at that point, [Petitioner] returned fire and then took the cruiser to escape being killed. Id. at 27.
Robert T. witnessed [Petitioner] vandalize Lisa B.'s apartment on April 18, 2000, and also overheard him swearing and stating that he wanted to kill Lisa B. When [Petitioner] returned to the apartment on April 20, 2000, Robert T. was afraid that he would damage the apartment again and followed him. After seeing a gun in [Petitioner's] possession, Robert T. told him that he was going to telephone the police. [Petitioner] replied, "I don't care. I'm going to be arrested today, I will shoot a cop. [Petitioner] told [Robert T.], he had been back there two days, couldn't take it anymore, [Petitioner] said he would kill himself, wasn't going to jail." Id. at 29. [Petitioner] repeated that he planned to "kill a cop then kill himself." Id. After [Petitioner] placed his revolver to his head, Robert T. went to his own apartment and contacted police. [Petitioner] then called for Robert T., who told him that he had telephoned the police. [Petitioner] responded, "I don't care, I will shoot the m___ f____ cop, I will put a hole in my own head too." Id. at 30. At that point, [Petitioner] fled.

(Respondents' Exh. 9, ECF No. 14-4 at 1-6.)

Based upon this evidence, Petitioner was found guilty and convicted of attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery of a motor vehicle, the firearms violation, and recklessly endangering another person. (Exh. 1, ECF No. 14-1 at 8; Exh. 9, ECF No. 14-4 at 6.) On February 1, 2002, he was sentenced to twenty to forty years imprisonment for attempted murder and to a consecutive jail term of five to ten years for robbery of a motor vehicle. (Exh. 1, ECF No. 14-1 at 2-3; Exh. 9, ECF No. 14-4 at 6.) No further penalty was imposed for the remaining counts. (Exh. 1, ECF ...


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