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[U] Commonwealth v. Harriott

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 18, 2014



Appeal from the PCRA Order of July 2, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County Criminal Division at No.: CP-23-CR-0008373-2007




Ryan Desmond Harriott ("Harriott") appeals from the July 2, 2012 order dismissing his petition pursuant to the Post-Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9541-46. We affirm.

This Court summarized the factual history of this case in our previous memorandum affirming Harriott's conviction:

On June 27, 2007, a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper on traffic patrol in full uniform in a marked vehicle stopped a black Honda on Interstate 95 in Chester[, Pennsylvania] for following too closely. [Harriott] was a passenger in the vehicle, which was driven by Kevin Kelly. When the trooper approached the driver's door he smelled the fresh odor of marijuana. Kelly presented documentation [that] confirmed that the vehicle was registered in Delaware under a female name. The trooper called for backup. [Harriott] displayed unusual behavior. The trooper observed him looking down with his hand "elbow deep" beneath the seat. [Harriott] claimed he was looking for his cell phone, but the cell phone was resting on his lap. His pants were unzipped. Twice, he ignored instructions to stay in the car and had to be ordered back in by the trooper.
[Kelly] gave the trooper permission to search the car, telling [the trooper] to "go ahead." When the back[-]up trooper arrived, the first trooper searched the car, finding a loaded, operational .32 caliber handgun under [Harriott's] passenger seat. The trooper also found a black plastic bag containing a brick of marijuana [that] weighed almost eight pounds under some clothing in the trunk.

Commonwealth v. Harriott, 775 EDA 2009, slip op. at 1-2 (Pa.Super. April 22, 2010). On January 10, 2008, Harriott was charged by information with various offenses related to possession of narcotics, possession of a firearm, and criminal conspiracy.

On February 22, 2008, Harriott filed an omnibus pre-trial motion seeking to suppress physical evidence seized from the vehicle on the basis that the officer "lacked reasonable suspicion, let alone probable cause, to detain, interrogate, and search [Harriott, Kelly, ] and the motor vehicle." Harriott's Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion, 2/22/2008, at 2 (unpaginated). Harriott also sought to suppress statements that he made to the police during his arrest. Id. at 3-4. On March 18, 2008, the trial court held a suppression hearing. On April 4, 2008, the trial court granted Harriott's suppression motion as to monies seized from the car, as well as to Harriott's statements. Harriott, 775 EDA 2009, at 2 n.4. However, the trial court denied Harriott's suppression motion with respect to the marijuana and the firearm. Id. At 2. On April 16, 2008, Harriott's trial counsel filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to the motion to suppress physical evidence, arguing:

It is believed and therefore respectfully suggested that [the trial court] erred in denying [Harriott's] Motion to Suppress Evidence because any evidence [that] the vehicle in which [Harriott] was a passenger [was] following [another car] too closely would have been depicted in the video obtained via [the Pennsylvania state trooper's recording unit] . . . said video did not depict a vehicle following too closely as compared to all other motor vehicles traveling . . . at or about the time of the stop.

Harriott's Motion for Reconsideration, 4/16/2008, at 2 (unpaginated). On May 9, 2008, the trial court denied Harriott's motion for reconsideration.

Following a jury trial, on July 31, 2008, Harriott was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(30)), concealed firearms not to be carried without a license (18 Pa.C.S. § 6106), and criminal conspiracy (18 Pa.C.S. § 903). Harriott, 775 EDA 2009, slip op. at 1. On October 23, 2008, the trial court sentenced Harriott "to a mandatory minimum term of sixty months' incarceration for [possession with intent to deliver, ] followed by a consecutive term of twelve to sixty months' incarceration for possessing a firearm without a license, following by a consecutive term of five years' state probation for the conspiracy conviction." Id. at 3. On October 29, 2008, Harriott filed post-sentence motions challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Id. On February 24, 2009, the trial court denied Harriott's post-sentence motions. Harriott filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. On April 22, 2010, a panel of this Court upheld Harriott's judgment of sentence.[1] Id. at 6. On May 21, 2010, Harriott petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for allowance of appeal. On February 25, 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Harriott's request.

On December 15, 2011, Harriott filed a pro se PCRA petition alleging violations of his constitutional rights and ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC"). On December 22, 2011, the PCRA court appointed counsel to represent Harriott and directed counsel to file an amended PCRA petition. On May 7, 2012, Harriott's PCRA counsel filed a Turner/Finley "no merit" letter.[2] On May 31, 2012, the PCRA court allowed Harriott's counsel to withdraw. That same day, the PCRA court filed notice of its intent to dismiss Harriott's petition without a hearing pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 907(1). On June 29, 2012, Harriott submitted ...

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