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.

Commonwealth v. Mitchell

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

December 16, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
WAYNE CORDELL MITCHELL, Appellant

Submitted: April 15, 2014.

Page 1258

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1259

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1260

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1261

Appeal from the Order entered on January 17, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of Allegheny County at Nos. CP-02-CR-0011609-1997, CP-02-CR-0012047-1997 and CP-02-CR-0013318-1997. Trial Court Judge: Randal B. Todd, Judge.

For Wayne Cordell Mitchell, APPELLANT: Michael Hugh Gonzales, Esq. Federal Community Defender Office, Eastern District of PA; Matthew C. Lawry, Esq. Federal Community Defender Ofc. for East. Dist. of PA.

For Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, APPELLEE: Karen T. Edwards, Esq., Allegheny County District Attorneys Office; Ronald Michael Wabby Jr., Esq., Allegheny County District Attorney's Office; Amy Zapp, Esq.

BEFORE: CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, STEVENS, JJ. Mr. Chief Justice Castille, Messrs. Justice Saylor, Eakin and Baer and Madame Justice Todd join the opinion. Mr. Justice Saylor files a concurring opinion.

OPINION

Page 1262

MR. JUSTICE STEVENS

This is a capital appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County denying Appellant Wayne Cordell Mitchell's first petition for relief under the Post Conviction Relief Act (" PCRA" ), 42 Pa.C.S. § § 9541-46.[1] For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The facts underlying Appellant's conviction and sentence of death are discussed more fully in this Court's opinion resolving Appellant's direct appeal. See Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 588 Pa. 19, 902 A.2d 430 (2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1169, 127 S.Ct. 1126, 166 L.Ed.2d 897 (2007) (" Mitchell I" ). In order to place Appellant's current collateral claims in context, some background is required.

The evidence adduced at trial indicated that Appellant and his estranged wife, Robin Little, had a volatile relationship. On September 1, 1997, Robin went to Appellant's place of employment to borrow his bus pass, and after she arrived, she told Appellant she had engaged in sexual relations with another man. Appellant became angry, dragged Robin into a supervisor's office, and raped her. Robin reported the rape to the police, and she underwent an examination at the Magee Women's Hospital.

While Robin was at the hospital, the police arrested Appellant, and after he waived his Miranda rights,[2] Appellant admitted in a taped statement that he had raped Robin. Police Detective Doug Yuhouse noted that, during the taped statement, Appellant was cooperative and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol. The police charged Appellant at CC No. 9712047 with rape, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, and simple assault for the September 1, 1997 attack on Robin. He was arraigned and remained in jail pending a preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for September 9, 1997.

On September 4, 1997, while Appellant was still in jail awaiting his preliminary hearing, Robin filed for a Protection from Abuse (" PFA" ) order.[3] The court granted the petition entering a ten-day temporary order, which directed Appellant to have no contact with Robin pending a full hearing scheduled for September 10, 1997.

At the September 9, 1997 preliminary hearing on the rape charge, Appellant waived the charges to court in exchange for a nominal bond, with a condition that he seek immediate in-patient treatment for alcohol abuse at St. Francis Hospital. However, for reasons disputed at trial, Appellant was never admitted to the hospital for treatment on September 9, 1997, as

Page 1263

required by the agreement, and instead, he went home and began calling Robin.

During the afternoon of September 9, 1997, at approximately 4:15 p.m., Appellant arrived at Robin's home and the two argued. At 6:00 p.m., Appellant left, and at 1:00 a.m. on September 10, 1997, Appellant telephoned Sheila Britton, the former director of a college-counseling program at the high school where Appellant and Robin attended. Appellant told Ms. Britton he was going to Robin's house to kill her because she had " disrespected" him. Ms. Britton told Appellant to go to sleep. At trial, she testified that, during their conversation, Appellant did not slur any of his words and spoke in coherent sentences.

Appellant later admitted to Detective Dennis Logan that, instead of going to bed, he walked to Robin's house, arriving at 1:30 a.m. Appellant argued with Robin, who was sitting on the front porch, and punched her in the face and stomach, causing her to fall against the door. When she tried to run, Appellant grabbed her and, when she resisted, Appellant dragged her toward an empty lot near her home, continuing to punch her as she tried to break free. At that point, Robin screamed for help, yelling, " He's going to kill me." N.T. 10/5/99, trial, at 383. Appellant put a hand over Robin's mouth and continued to drag her.

As they passed a house, Appellant saw a knife lying on the porch. Appellant punched Robin several times, temporarily disabling her while he returned to the porch to get the knife. When Robin attempted to pull herself up off the ground, Appellant pushed her down and stabbed her in the stomach. He then removed her clothes, wrapped his hands around her neck, and raped her, first vaginally and then anally. When Robin vomited blood, Appellant wiped her mouth with a rag and continued to rape her. When he finished, he turned her over and stabbed her multiple times in the neck. Appellant threw Robin's clothes, the knife, and the bloody rag into a nearby sewer. Appellant later told Detective Logan he left Robin's body naked because " [i]f she wanted to f--k everybody, now everybody could see her f--king body." N.T. 10/5/99, trial, at 387.

Appellant called Ms. Britton again at 4:00 a.m., and told her, " Robin Little is no more." Id. at 330. At 9:00 a.m., Appellant appeared in court for the PFA hearing; however, when Robin failed to appear, the court dismissed the temporary PFA order. When Appellant returned home, his mother informed him that Robin was found dead, and upon his mother's urging, Appellant decided to go to the emergency room of St. Francis Hospital, where he reported sometime around noon on September 10, 1997.

Meanwhile, at around 10:15 a.m., Robin's naked body was discovered in a backyard close to her home, and the police later discovered Robin's clothes in the sewer. Appellant's clothing was recovered from a vacant house in a nearby neighborhood. As soon as Robin's body was discovered, homicide detectives began looking for Appellant and learned he was being evaluated at the emergency room of St. Francis Hospital. As Appellant was being released from the emergency room at approximately 1:54 p.m., the police approached Appellant in the waiting room and asked him to accompany them to their office. Appellant agreed to do so. During the short ride to the homicide office, Appellant said he had nothing to do with Robin's death, at which point Detective Logan replied he did not want to talk about the case in the car.

At the homicide office, Detective Logan told Appellant he wished to speak to him about Robin's murder, and Appellant was escorted to an interview room where, after waiving his Miranda rights, Appellant

Page 1264

made a full statement to Detective Logan admitting that he raped Robin on September 1, 1997, and that he raped her again and murdered her on September 10, 1997. Detective Logan noted Appellant appeared in full control of his faculties and provided a remarkably detailed account of his turbulent relationship with Robin, as well as a full explanation of how and why he raped her twice and then murdered her.

In addition to the charges at CC No. 9712047, as set forth supra, the police charged Appellant at CC No. 9713318 with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse (IDSI), and unlawful restraint for the September 10, 1997 attack of Robin. Moreover, at CC No. 9711609, the police charged Appellant with one count of criminal homicide for the September 10, 1997 strangulation and stabbing death of Robin. The Commonwealth filed and served a timely notice of its intention to seek imposition of the death penalty.

Appellant filed several pre-trial motions, which the trial court denied. On October 1, 1999, Appellant pleaded guilty to the charges arising from the September 10, 1997 sexual assault at CC No. 9713318. The court deferred imposition of sentence until after trial on the remaining charges, which commenced before a jury on October 4, 1999. At trial, the Commonwealth presented evidence from a number of witnesses, including Robin's mother, Robin's sister-in-law, Ms. Britton, several police officers, the doctor who examined Robin after the first rape, and the chief forensic pathologist from the coroner's office.

Although Appellant declined to testify, he presented testimony from several witnesses, including his uncle,[4] Attorney Rosalyn Guy-McCorkle (Appellant's former defense attorney),[5] and Dr. Lawson Bernstein (a forensic neuropsychiatrist).[6] Appellant called these witnesses to support his diminished capacity defense that, due to his psychological condition and long-term alcohol abuse, he was unable to form the requisite specific intent to kill for a murder conviction.

At the close of the trial, the jury rejected Appellant's defense and found him guilty of first-degree murder for the September 10, 1997 death of Robin at CC No. 9711609, as well as the remaining charges of rape, unlawful restraint, and simple assault arising from the September 1, 1997 incident at CC No. 9712047. Accordingly, as the Commonwealth was seeking the death penalty, the jury remained empanelled for a separate penalty-phase hearing. On October 13, 1999, after hearing additional

Page 1265

testimony, the same jury unanimously found two aggravating circumstances: Appellant committed the killing while in the perpetration of a felony (rape) and Appellant was subject to a PFA order restricting his contact with the victim when he killed her.[7] The jury found no mitigating circumstances. Consequently, the jury sentenced Appellant to death.

On December 8, 1999, the trial court imposed a sentence of death for the first-degree murder conviction and a consecutive aggregate of twelve years to twenty-seven years in prison for the remaining charges at CC No. 9712047. After Appellant unsuccessfully sought to withdraw his guilty plea at CC No. 9713318, on February 10, 2000, the trial court sentenced Appellant to eight years to twenty years in prison for the September 10, 1997 rape to be served consecutively to both the death sentence and the sentence imposed for the September 1, 1997 rape and related offenses. The trial court imposed no further penalty for the remaining counts. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed Appellant's judgments of sentence. See Mitchell I, supra.

On February 21, 2007, Appellant filed a timely pro se PCRA petition,[8] and collateral review was assigned to the Honorable Randal B. Todd. Members of the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (" FCDO" ) subsequently entered an appearance on behalf of Appellant and filed a court-ordered amended PCRA petition raising thirteen claims. The Commonwealth filed its answer, and a five-day hearing was held in October of 2012, at which numerous witnesses testified. The PCRA court ultimately denied relief. Still represented by the FCDO, Appellant filed a counseled appeal and concise statement of errors complained of on appeal, see Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b), and the PCRA court issued an opinion addressing each of the alleged errors and concluding that it had properly denied relief. See Commonwealth v. Mitchell, CC Nos. 1997-11609, 12047, 13318, slip op. at 33 (C.P. Allegheny, July 31, 2013) (" PCRA Court Opinion" ).

In reviewing the denial of PCRA relief, we examine whether " the PCRA court's determinations are supported by the record and are free of legal error." Commonwealth v. Robinson, __ Pa. __, __, 82 A.3d 998, 1005 (2013) (quotation and quotation marks omitted). See Commonwealth v. Strong, 563 Pa. 455, 461 n.3, 761 A.2d 1167, 1170 n.3 (2000) (" Since most PCRA appeals involve...issues raising mixed questions of fact and law, our standard of review is whether the findings of the PCRA court are supported by the record and free of legal error." ) (citations omitted). " The PCRA court's credibility determinations, when supported by the record, are binding on this Court; however, we apply a de novo standard of review to the PCRA court's legal conclusions." Commonwealth v. Roney, __ Pa. __, __, 79 A.3d 595, 603 (2013) (citation omitted).

To be entitled to PCRA relief, Appellant must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his conviction or sentence resulted from one or more of the circumstances enumerated in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(2), and that the allegation of error has not been previously litigated or

Page 1266

waived. See Commonwealth v. Sneed, 616 Pa. 1, 45 A.3d 1096 (2012). For present purposes, the circumstances that would warrant relief are a constitutional violation, or ineffective assistance of counsel, which so undermined the reliability of the truth determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place. See id.; 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(2).

With regard to ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the test we utilize in Pennsylvania is substantively the same as the performance-and-prejudice standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), although this Court has divided the performance component into sub-parts dealing with arguable merit and reasonable strategy. Appellant must, therefore, show that: the underlying legal claim has arguable merit; counsel had no reasonable basis for his act or omission; and Appellant suffered prejudice as a result. See Commonwealth v. Pierce, 515 Pa. 153, 158-60, 527 A.2d 973, 975-76 (1987). Because all three prongs must be demonstrated, the ineffectiveness claim fails if any one of them is not proved. See Commonwealth v. Busanet, 618 Pa. 1, 16, 54 A.3d 35, 45 (2012), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 13 S.Ct. 178, 187 L.Ed.2d 122 (2013).

Moreover, we note that Appellant's direct appeal was pending at the time we decided Commonwealth v. Grant, 572 Pa. 48, 813 A.2d 726 (2002), which held that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel should be deferred until collateral review. Appellant raised several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal and, applying Grant retroactively, we declined to address the claims with no prejudice to Appellant's right to raise them on collateral review. See Mitchell I, supra. Since Grant is applicable to this case, Appellant need not present his ineffectiveness claims as " layered" claims. See Roney, supra. With this framework in mind, we now address Appellant's claims.

Claim I

In his first claim, Appellant challenges trial counsel's stewardship as it relates to the admission of his inculpatory statements, which he made to police on September 10, 1997. As indicated supra, following the discovery of Robin's body, the police learned Appellant was at the St. Francis Hospital emergency room, and after Appellant was discharged, detectives approached Appellant in the waiting room at approximately 1:54 p.m. When asked to accompany them to their office, Appellant agreed, and after arriving at the homicide office, Appellant waived his Miranda rights and made several inculpatory statements.

Trial counsel filed a pre-trial motion to suppress Appellant's confession. Detective Logan later testified that, during the interrogation, Appellant did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, and Appellant specifically denied being under any such influence. Further, Detective Logan indicated Appellant appeared to be in full control of his faculties and spoke plainly. He clarified that, when the police went to find Appellant, they discovered him in the hospital's general emergency room where he had been seen by a doctor and released. Detective Logan questioned Appellant about wanting to be admitted for treatment in the psychiatric ward, and Appellant explained he went to the hospital only at his mother's insistence. Relying upon Detective Logan's testimony, the trial court denied Appellant's pre-trial suppression motion.

On direct appeal, appellate counsel argued the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defense motion to suppress

Page 1267

Appellant's confession. Mitchell I, supra. Specifically, although appellate counsel conceded Appellant received his Miranda warnings and signed a waiver form prior to confessing, appellate counsel claimed that Appellant did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights due to his diminished capacity. Mitchell I, supra. In support of this contention, appellate counsel posited that Detective Logan approached Appellant immediately after psychiatric treatment, as he was leaving the St. Francis Hospital emergency room.

The Commonwealth, on the other hand, argued on direct appeal that the evidence presented at the suppression hearing did not substantiate Appellant's claim, and instead, supported the trial court's conclusion that Appellant's statement was the product of a rational and free waiver of his Miranda rights. Mitchell I, supra.

In concluding Appellant had not demonstrated an abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying the suppression motion, this Court held, in relevant part, the following:

Notwithstanding Dr. Bernstein's trial testimony that Appellant suffered from a number of different psychiatric conditions including alcoholic hallucinosis, Appellant did not present any evidence at the suppression hearing regarding his actual treatment or diagnosis at the emergency room, or any testimony regarding his mental health or alleged diminished capacity generally. Moreover, upon careful consideration of all the facts herein, we are satisfied that Appellant has not demonstrated an abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying his suppression motion. Detective Logan testified that when Appellant confessed he was in full control of his faculties, articulate, and coherent. This testimony was clearly relied upon by the trial court and was undisputed at the suppression hearing.

Mitchell I, 588 Pa. at 55, 902 A.2d at 452.

Additionally, we noted that " there is no per se rule that a defendant's waiver of his constitutional rights is defective merely because his mental illness distorts [the] defendant's perceptions of reality." Id. at 56 n.14, 902 A.2d at 452 n.14 (citing Commonwealth v. Logan, 519 Pa. 607, 549 A.2d 531, 537 (1988) (holding that a person with a mental illness, including a history of hallucinations and delusions, may be capable of waiving his constitutional rights, unless the confession flows from an internal compulsion to confess that is rooted in a mental disease)). Accordingly, we concluded Appellant's argument of trial court error failed.

In seeking collateral relief, Appellant seizes upon the portions of our direct appeal analysis, which indicated he failed to present evidence regarding his mental health or alleged diminished capacity generally in support of his suppression motion. Thus, although Appellant acknowledges trial counsel moved to suppress his inculpatory statements, and appellate counsel raised the denial of the suppression motion on direct appeal, he now claims that trial counsel was ineffective in the manner in which he litigated the suppression issue.[9] Specifically, he posits that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to present evidence at the suppression hearing establishing that Appellant: suffers from brain damage and cognitive impairment; is alcohol dependent; was drinking excessively on the day of the murder; appeared " out

Page 1268

of it" and had bloodshot eyes at the time of his statement; was incoherent at times later on the day of the murder and on the day after the murder; and was likely suffering from alcohol withdrawal on the day of the murder. Appellant appears to assert that introduction of this evidence would have led the trial court to conclude his waiver was not knowing and intelligent because his mental status or diminished capacity interfered with his ability to have a full understanding of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequence of the choice.

As this Court noted in Appellant's direct appeal, there is no per se rule that there can be no voluntary waiver when a person is mentally ill. See Mitchell I, supra. See also Sepulveda; supra; Logan, supra (holding defendants with proven psychological defects are capable of waiving their constitutional rights and give voluntary confessions).

The voluntariness standard of Miranda requires that the prosecution prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the waiver is knowing and intelligent. This requires a two-step analysis. First, the waiver must have been voluntary in the sense that it was an intentional choice made without any undue governmental pressure; and, second, that the waiver must have been made with a full comprehension of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of that choice.

Logan, 519 Pa. at 619, 549 A.2d at 537 (citation omitted).

Thus, in the suppression realm, the focus is upon police conduct and whether a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver was effected based on a totality of the circumstances, which may include consideration of a defendant's mental...condition[.] Commonwealth v. Cox, 546 Pa. 515, 686 A.2d 1279, 1287 (1996). When a defendant alleges that his waiver or confession was involuntary, the question is not whether the defendant would have confessed without interrogation, but whether the interrogation was so manipulative or coercive that it deprived the defendant of his ability to make a free and unconstrained decision to confess.

Sepulveda, 618 Pa. at 308, 55 A.3d at 1136-37 (quotation marks and quotations omitted).

In developing his collateral claim, Appellant presents a laundry list of evidence, supported with citations to the PCRA hearing transcript, which he claims was available to trial counsel for use at the suppression hearing. For example, citing to four pages of PCRA hearing testimony from Dr. Barry M. Crown, a neuropsychologist, see N.T. 10/15/12, PCRA hearing, at 290, 293, 296, 319, Appellant asserts trial counsel should have presented testimony at the suppression hearing that Appellant suffers from brain damage and cognitive impairment. At the PCRA hearing, Dr. Crown testified he conducted neuropsychological testing on Appellant on September 15, 2011, and he opined Appellant has organic brain damage, resulting in functional impairments in memory, reasoning, and control. Id. at 291-96, 319.

Citing to two pages of PCRA hearing testimony, see id. at 227 and 390, Appellant contends trial counsel should have presented testimony indicating that he is alcohol dependent. At the PCRA hearing, Dr. Richard Dudley, a psychiatrist who examined Appellant for the appellate process, diagnosed Appellant as suffering from alcoholism in remission due to his incarceration. Id. at 227. Moreover, at the PCRA hearing, Dr. Duncan Clark, a psychologist who did not examine Appellant but reviewed various records for PCRA purposes, opined Appellant suffered

Page 1269

from alcoholism from approximately the age of fourteen. Id. at 390.

Citing to pages from the PCRA hearing testimony of Louis Harrell, who was a drug and alcohol counselor at St. Francis Hospital, and Wayne Mitchell, Sr., who is Appellant's father, Appellant contends trial counsel should have presented testimony indicating Appellant was drinking excessively during the day and night of September 9, 1997, as well as the early morning hours of September 10, 1997. Mr. Harrell testified he counseled Appellant, who indicated he drank several times a week. Id. at 477-80. Appellant's father testified he saw Appellant at approximately 2:30 p.m. on September 9, 1997, and Appellant was drunk. Id. at 523.

Citing to three pages from the PCRA hearing testimony of Brian Dallas, who was Appellant's friend, Appellant posits trial counsel should have presented evidence that Appellant had bloodshot eyes and appeared " out of it" at about the time of his interrogation by police. See id. at 543-45. Mr. Dallas testified that, after he learned of Appellant's arrest by watching the 5:00 p.m. news on September 10, 1997, Mr. Dallas immediately went to the police station. Id. at 542. He saw Appellant, who had bloodshot eyes, was crying, and looked " pretty much out of it." Id. at 544.

Citing to three pages from the PCRA hearing testimony of Rosalyn Guy-McCorkle, Esquire, who represented Appellant initially in connection with his arrest for the September 1, 1997 rape of Robin, Appellant avers trial counsel should have presented evidence he was incoherent on the day of September 10 and the next day.[10] See id. at 98-99, 102. Attorney Guy-McCorkle testified she met with Appellant on September 11, 1997, in order to inform him that she would not be representing him in connection with the murder case. Id. at 102. In the end, because she was uncomfortable with Appellant, she decided to sever all ties with him. Id. at 97. Specifically, she testified that, on September 11, 1997, Appellant seemed " delusional" in that he was " fixated" on Attorney Guy-McCorkle, and he responded to her as if they were friends. Id. at 98, 102.

Finally, citing to three pages from the PCRA hearing testimony of Dr. Clark, Appellant asserts trial counsel should have presented evidence that he was likely suffering from alcohol withdrawal on September 10, 1997. See id. at 399-401. Dr. Clark testified that, according to Appellant's records, he had episodes of binge drinking and withdrawal. Id. at 399. He noted that the September 10, 1997 records from Appellant's St. Francis Hospital emergency room visit revealed Appellant had a heart rate of 104, which is an indicator of alcohol withdrawal. Id. at 399-400. As a result thereof, Dr. Clark opined Appellant would have been more moody and more susceptible to persuasion on the afternoon of September 10, 1997. Id. at 400-401.

In rejecting Appellant's ineffectiveness claim, the PCRA court, noting it considered Appellant's proffered evidence on his waiver issue as set forth supra, concluded there was no arguable merit to the underlying claim. For instance, the PCRA court specifically dismissed Dr. Clark's opinions as " speculative," not credible, legally insufficient, and " clearly not rendered to a reasonable degree of medical certainty." PCRA Court Opinion, slip op. at 20-22. Likewise, the PCRA court dismissed

Page 1270

Attorney Guy-McCorkle's testimony regarding Appellant's mental state as " vague," based on limited contact with Appellant, " dubious," and not supportive of Appellant's waiver contention. Id. at 23-24. Similarly, the PCRA court rejected Mr. Dallas' testimony as it related to Appellant's waiver argument as " neither credible nor persuasive," and based on a short, eight minute encounter, which under the circumstances, " sheds little light on [Appellant's] mental capacity to appreciate his rights." [11] Id. at 24-25.

The PCRA court further concluded the evidence and testimony offered by Appellant in support of his position (that his mental condition or diminished capacity impaired his ability to knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waive his Miranda rights) was contrary to the medical records submitted by Appellant at the PCRA hearing. Id. at 21. Specifically, the PCRA court found credible the records from Appellant's September 10, 1997 St. Francis Hospital emergency room visit, which commenced at approximately noon. The PCRA court noted that the hospital records revealed Appellant was being evaluated for alcohol abuse, but his Breathalyzer reading was .000%. Id. at 21. The hospital records noted no medical problems, Appellant's physical status was " stable," his level of consciousness was noted as " alert," his impulse control was noted as " good," his behavior was noted as " cooperative," and he was noted to be neither suicidal nor homicidal. Id. at 21. The hospital records further indicated Appellant denied any current withdrawal, his appearance was noted as " appropriate," his speech was noted as " normal in tone, rate, and volume," his " content of speech and thought" was noted as " normal thought process," and his perception was noted as " no distortion." Id. at 21-22. The report further established Appellant's neurologic examination indicated his " cranial nerves were 'intact' and deep tendon reflexes were '2' and his 'coordination' was 'normal.' He was found to be 'physically stable.'" Id. at 22.

The PCRA court concluded the hospital records confirmed the credible PCRA hearing testimony of Detective Logan that, when he picked up Appellant at the hospital on September 10, 1997, at 1:54 p.m., and read him the Miranda rights at 2:03 p.m., Appellant was capable of understanding and waiving his rights, showed no signs of slurred speech, had no red eyes, had a correct manner of walking, and gave an overall impression of sound mind and body. Id. at 22 (quoting N.T. 10/15/12, PCRA hearing, at 344-45). Thus, in consideration of all of the evidence and testimony presented, the PCRA court concluded there was no basis to find trial counsel ineffective in failing to present at the suppression hearing the list of evidence set forth by Appellant.

We are bound by the PCRA court's credibility ...


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.