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Cruz v. Wagner

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 1, 2015

SAMUEL CRUZ, Petitioner,
v.
ADA SHAWN WAGNER, et al., Respondents

MEMORANDUM

KANE JUDGE

Petitioner Samuel Cruz (“Cruz”), an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Pennsylvania, initiated the above action pro se by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 2254. (Doc. No. 1.) In the petition, Cruz challenges his 2005 convictions in the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County, Pennsylvania (“trial court”). For the reasons set forth herein, the petition will be denied.

I. Background

The background of Cruz’s convictions was summarized by the trial court in relevant part as follows:

On February 29, 1992 Cruz (d.o.b. 10/4/58) married Carol Hardman. . . . Also living in the home was Ms. Hardman’s daughter, R.F. (d.o.b. 11/01/85).
On January 11, 1993, J.F., an 11-year old female neighbor, went to the Hardman residence to play with the children in the household during a two hour school delay. Cruz, then aged 34, offered to paint J.F.’s fingernails. While doing so Cruz rubbed J.F.’s hand over his crotch several times. He then removed his penis from his pants and placed J.F.’s hand on it. Cruz told J.F. to keep the incident secret between them. Nevertheless, J.F. informed her mother of the incident the same day.
In late December, 1996, R.F., then age 11 years, was home from school due to an illness. Cruz was home because he was unemployed. After R.F. got in the shower Cruz joined her uninvited. He forcibly entered her anus with his penis. R.F. did not inform her Mother of the abuse until much later. . . .
Several years later[, ] Cruz began residing in the home of Georgia Cruz[.] Also living in the home was Ms. Cruz’s daughter C.S. (d.o.b. 12/9/93). In September, 2003[, ] Cruz and Ms. Cruz were married.
In mid-October, 2004, C.S. was in the shower when Cruz entered naked and uninvited. Cruz proceeded to wash her “entire” body with a sponge. he then forced her hand to wash the front of his body, including the area of his genitals. Cruz told C.S. this “was between me and you.” On October 26, 2004, after Ms. Cruz left for work, C.S. was lying on a sofa watching television before going to school. Cruz, who was not working at that time, laid behind her. Cruz reached under C.S.’s shirt and touched her breast. He then put his hand down her pants and digitally penetrated her vagina. Finally, Cruz removed C.S.’s pants and penetrated her anus with his penis. C.S. stated Cruz was wearing maroon boxers and a black T-shirt during the incident. That afternoon Ms. Cruz noticed Cruz’s maroon boxers on the sofa.
On October 27, 2004[, ] . . . C.S. told her mother of the sexual assault. C.S. and her mother then met with officers Justin Rogerson and William Orth of the Gettysburg Police Department. Although reluctant to discuss the incident at first[, ] C.S. did make a written statement of what occurred. At that point C.S. was taken to Gettysburg Hospital while Officer Orth attempted to locate Defendant.
At 6:40 p.m. C.S. was examined in the Emergency Room by Dr. William Steinour. C.S. advised him that she had been abused by her “step-father.” Cruz arrived at the hospital and asked for C.S. Dr. Steinour, who knew Cruz, advised him that he should not see C.S. at that time but the police were interested in interviewing him. Cruz appeared nervous and left the hospital.
Shortly thereafter Officer Orth confronted Cruz in an alley near the hospital. . . . Cruz was taken into custody. . . .
On November 2, 2004, Cruz was arrested for the incident with C.S. on October 26, 2004. Several weeks thereafter, R.F. reported the incident from late December, 1996, to the police. On December 17, 2004, Cruz was arrested for the incident with R.F.

(Doc. No. 10-5 at 86–88) (internal citations omitted.) On April 20, 2005, the trial court granted the Commonwealth’s motion to consolidate the two cases, finding that “there was sufficient similarity in the manner in which the incidents occurred, sufficient geographic proximity, the temporal gap was not excessive, and the probative value outweighed the potential for prejudice.” (Doc. No. 10-1 at 2, 17.)

On August 23, 2005, the trial court granted the Commonwealth’s motion to admit evidence of the 1993 incident between Cruz and J.F. and of the shower incident between Cruz and C.S. (Doc. No. 10-1 at 11.) Although Cruz was not indicted for either of these incidents, the trial court found that the evidence was admissible as “evidence of common plan, scheme, or design and/or as part of the history of the case” and that “the probative value of the evidence outweighed its potential for prejudice.” (Doc. No. 10-5 at 88–89.)

Cruz proceeded to a jury trial and was found guilty on all counts. (Id. at 89) Prior to sentencing, the trial court held a hearing at which it determined Cruz was a “sexually violent predator” under Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law provisions. (Id. at 81–83.) The trial court then sentenced Cruz to an aggregate term of 13–35 years incarceration. (Id. at 90.)

Cruz then filed post-sentencing motions with the trial court in which he raised several claims, including all of those in the instant petition. (Id. at 90– 91.) On April 18, 2008, the trial court denied Cruz’s post-sentencing motions. (Doc. No. 10-6 at 9.) Cruz subsequently appealed the trial court’s decision, and the Superior Court denied his appeal on May 19, 2009. (Id. at 71.) Cruz later filed a petition for allowance of appeal with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which was denied on February 9, 2011. (Id. at 82, 104.)

On August 10, 2011, Cruz filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. No. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.

II. Discussion

In the petition, Cruz raises the following claims:

1. The trial court erred by consolidating the cases involving C.S. and R.F. ...

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