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[U] Commonwealth v. Sedlak

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 20, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
BRYAN JOSEPH SEDLAK, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the PCRA Order, October 12, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Criminal Division at No. CP-02-CR-0015740-2007

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., GANTMAN AND SHOGAN, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.

Appellant appeals the order dismissing his first petition filed pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546. Finding no error, we affirm.

On February 18, 2009, a jury found appellant guilty of third degree murder and abuse of a corpse. The charges arose from appellant's shooting of Patrick Kenney on February 2, 2005 at a tanning salon owned by appellant in Homestead. Appellant raised a defense of self-defense at trial claiming that Kenney, in a cocaine-fueled aggression, demanded more cocaine from appellant at gunpoint. Appellant claimed that Kenney opened fire first and that he killed him by returning fire. The abuse of a corpse charge stemmed from appellant's cutting up of the victim's body to dispose of it.

On August 10, 2009, appellant was sentenced to an aggregate term of 19 to 38 years' imprisonment. On April 7, 2011, this court affirmed the judgment of sentence, and on September 12, 2011, our supreme court denied appeal. Commonwealth v. Sedlak, 29 A.3d 825 (Pa.Super. 2011) (unpublished memorandum), appeal denied, 611 Pa. 682, 29 A.3d 373 (2011).

On August 16, 2012, appellant timely filed a counseled PCRA petition. On September 12, 2012, the PCRA court issued notice pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P., Rule 907, 42 Pa.C.S.A., of its intention to dismiss the petition without hearing within 30 days. As noted, on October 12, 2012, the court dismissed the PCRA petition. This timely appeal followed.

On appeal, appellant raises the following issues:

I. DID THE PCRA COURT ERR IN DENYING MR. SEDLAK AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER HIS APPELLATE COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO PRESENT TO THE SUPERIOR COURT THE BLATANT ERROR OF THE TRIAL COURT IN REFUSING TO CLARIFY FOR THE JURY THAT A FINDING OF GUILT AS TO THE ABUSE OF CORPSE CHARGE WOULD NOT AUTOMATICALLY DEFEAT MR. SEDLAK'S SELF-DEFENSE CLAIM?
II. DID THE PCRA COURT ERR IN DENYING MR. SEDLAK AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER HIS TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO INTERVIEW, SUBPOENA, AND CALL BILL ROBINSON AS A WITNESS, WHERE MR. ROBINSON'S TESTIMONY WAS RELEVANT TO MR. SEDLAK'S STATE OF MIND SHORTLY BEFORE THE SHOOTING AND COULD HAVE RAISED A REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO HIS GUILT?
III. DID THE PCRA COURT ERR IN DENYING MR. SEDLAK AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER HIS TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO PRESENT AN EXPERT WITNESS TO TESTIFY AS TO THE EFFECT OF HEAVY COCAINE USE ON ONE'S MENTAL STATE AND BEHAVIOR, WHERE SUCH TESTIMONY MAY HAVE LED THE JURY TO HAVE A REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO THE COMMONWEALTH'S CLAIM THAT MR. SEDLAK DID NOT ACT IN SELF-DEFENSE?
IV. DID THE PCRA COURT ERR IN DENYING MR. SEDLAK AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER HIS TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO CALL A BALLISTICS EXPERT TO TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF THE SELF-DEFENSE CLAIM WHERE SUCH TESTIMONY MAY HAVE CREATED A REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO MR. SEDLAK'S GUILT?
V. DID THE PCRA COURT ERR IN DENYING MR. SEDLAK AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO REQUEST A JURY INSTRUCTION WHICH EXPLAINED THAT THE EVIDENCE OF THE VICTIM'S VIOLENT ...

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