Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

[U] Commonwealth v. Klein

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 19, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Appellee
v.
JAMES KLEIN Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the PCRA Order September 12, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-1211291-2002

BEFORE: BOWES, J., LAZARUS, J., and WECHT, J.

MEMORANDUM

LAZARUS, J.

James Klein appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, which dismissed his petition brought pursuant to the Post-Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA").[1] After careful review, we affirm.

Klein was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two life terms. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed, and summarized the facts of the case as follows:

The putative prologue to the killings was the kidnapping and beating of [Klein] by his eventual victims, Danny Jones and Dwight Jenkins. [Klein] had been released when he agreed to lead his captors to the house of one Melvin Marrero, whom Jones and Jenkins had apparently attempted to kill on an earlier occasion.2 On March 7, 2002, Jones and Jenkins met [Klein] at a diner in New Jersey, and drove with him to the 6400 block of Tulip Street in Philadelphia where [Klein] shot and killed both men, firing several more shots at the victims before fleeing in a car waiting for him around the corner. He then absconded to Las Vegas, where he was later arrested.
2 The earlier occasion supposedly arose after [Klein], having been given $8, 000.00 by Marrero to buy drugs in New York, produced only counterfeits. When Marrero demanded return of the money, [Klein] informed Jones, who bore a grudge against Marrero because of a prior disagreement, of Marrero's whereabouts. Jones and an accomplice located Marrero in an alley near his home, pulled up behind the car he was in and began shooting. However, Marrero managed to escape.

Commonwealth v. Klein, No. 312 EDA 2005, unpublished memorandum at 1-2 (Pa.Super. filed November 15, 2006).

Following this Court's order affirming Klein's judgment of sentence, he filed a petition for allowance of appeal, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied on March 21, 2007. Commonwealth v. Klein, 919 A.2d 955 (Pa. 2007).

On April 28, 2007, Klein filed a timely pro se PCRA petition. Counsel was appointed, and filed an amended petition on July 8, 2011. The Commonwealth filed a motion to dismiss on October 19, 2011, and Klein filed a response on February 3, 2012. By order filed August 3, 2012, the court notified the parties of its intention to dismiss the petition pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 907. On August 23, 2012, Klein filed his response to the notice, and by order dated September 12, 2012, the court dismissed the PCRA petition without a hearing.

On October 10, 2012, Klein filed a timely notice of appeal, and on January 16, 2013, he filed a court-ordered statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). The trial court filed its Rule 1925(a) opinion on February 22, 2013.

On appeal, Klein raises the following issues for our review: [2]

1. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to investigate and present material witnesses from the neighborhood where the murders occurred?
2. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to investigate and present an alibi witness who had been identified by [Klein]?
3. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to object to the presentation of irrelevant and hearsay evidence to establish particulars of [Klein's] alleged "flight, " and by failing to object to the prosecutor's argument and the court's instruction regarding "flight" and "consciousness of guilt"?
4. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to object to the prosecutor's improper argument?
5. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to request jury instructions regarding witness credibility and other crimes evidence?
6. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to request a "corrupt source" instruction with respect to David Foster and/or Melvin Marrero?
7. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to object when the court, in charging the jury, referenced only the statements by Melvin Marrero and Ketkarun Boonsong, and omitted any mention of the statement by Catherine Johnson, in explaining that prior inconsistent statements could be used as substantive evidence?
8. Did the lower court err in dismissing Klein's PCRA petition without holding an evidentiary hearing.

Appellant's Brief, at 3.

In reviewing an appeal from the denial of PCRA relief, "our standard of review is whether the findings of the court are supported by the record and free of legal error." Commonwealth v. Martin, 5 A.3d 177, 182 (Pa. 2010) (citations omitted).

To be eligible for relief under the PCRA, Klein must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his conviction resulted from "ineffective assistance of counsel which, in the circumstances of the particular case so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place." 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(2)(ii). "Counsel is presumed to be effective and the burden of demonstrating ineffectiveness rests on appellant." Commonwealth v. Ousley, 21 A.3d 1238, 1244 (Pa.Super. 2011). To prevail on an ineffectiveness claim, the defendant must show that the underlying claim had arguable merit, counsel had no reasonable basis for his or her action, and counsel's action resulted in prejudice to the defendant. Commonwealth v. Pierce, 527 A.2d 973, 975-77 (Pa. 1987).

Klein argues that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present the testimony of witnesses who lived in the neighborhood where the murders took place and the testimony of police officers who investigated the crime scene. He asserts that if counsel had presented the testimony of these witnesses, it "would have raised serious doubts in the minds of the jurors as to the testimony of David Foster and the time the Commonwealth alleged the murders occurred." Appellant's Brief, at 20.

At trial, Foster testified that on the night of March 6, 2002, the victims left his house in Pemberton, New Jersey to meet Klein at a diner. At approximately 10:45 or 11:00 p.m., Jones called Foster to tell him that he and Jenkins had met Klein. Between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m., Jones used his cell phone to call Foster again and tell him that he and Jenkins were on their ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.