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Davis v. S.C.I. Pittsburgh

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 10, 2017

JEYLON DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
S.C.I. PITTSBURGH; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondents.

          OPINION

          Maureen P. Kelly Chief United States Magistrate Judge

         Jeylon Davis (“Petitioner”) was convicted of robbery, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person and was sentenced to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 7 ½ years to 15 years followed by a six year period of probation.

         Petitioner raises three Grounds for Relief in the instant Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (the “Petition”). Because none of the Grounds merits the grant of federal habeas relief, the Petition will be denied. Because jurists of reason would not find denial of the Petition debatable, a Certificate of Appealability will also be denied.

         I. FACTUAL HISTORY

         The Pennsylvania Superior Court summarized the factual background of this case as follows in its Opinion dated October 24, 2013:

On January 23, 2006, at approximately 11:50 p.m., Appellant robbed the victim at gunpoint while she was crossing Bates Street in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. Appellant approached the victim in the middle of the street, grabbed her arm, pointed a gun at her, and demanded, “Give me everything, ” before he pushed her to the ground on the side of the road, stood over her, and repeated his demand. N.T, 5/22/08, at 82-84.
As the incident unfurled, on-duty uniformed University of Pittsburgh Police Officer Norbert Kuczma was driving his personal vehicle to his post.
While at the intersection of Bates and Meyran Streets, Officer Kuczma observed Appellant assault the victim. Officer Kuczma approached the scuffle in his vehicle, rolled down the passenger window, and inquired if there was a problem. Unaware that Officer Kuczma was a police officer, Appellant approached the open passenger window of the vehicle, leaned in, and, looking directly at the police officer, stated that everything was fine. Id. at 66. Officer Kuczma noticed that Appellant's right hand was holding his jacket pocket as if he were concealing a weapon. Concerned that Appellant might pose a danger, he advised him, “Don't go anywhere, I want to talk to you.” Id. at 67. Realizing that Officer Kuczma was a police officer, Appellant fled from Bates Street toward Boulevard of the Allies.
Officer Kuczma radioed Appellant's description and direction of flight to other police officers in the area. The flash information advised that Appellant might be armed. Id. at 70. Minutes later, University of Pittsburgh Police Officers Preston Peterson and Scott Dubrosky apprehend Appellant nearby. The police officers executed a weapons frisk, but nothing was found. Id. at 104. At that juncture, Appellant asked the police why they had chased him and Officer Peterson answered that they wanted to talk to him because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. Appellant responded, “How can you arrest me for something if I don't have a gun?” Id. at 105. Significantly, at that point in the interdiction, Appellant had not been informed that the robbery suspect was believed to have possessed a gun.
Officer Kuczma proceeded to the location where his fellow officers detained Appellant, and he positively identified Appellant as the assailant who was attacking the victim on Bates Street. Id. at 73-74. Likewise, the victim arrived at that location and identified Appellant as her assailant. Id. at 85-86, 95-97. Subsequently, at Appellant's preliminary hearing, the victim reported that she was only seventy to eighty percent sure that Appellant was the criminal. She noted that she could not remember 100 percent of the details of the evening and that, due to the darkness and her anxiety during the ordeal, she did not see some of her assailant's features. Appellant was held over for trial.
As the victim was unavailable to testify at Appellant's jury trial, her preliminary hearing testimony was read into the record. Id. at 81-97. Additionally, the Commonwealth presented the eyewitness observations and identification testimony of Police Officer Kuczma. Through Officer Peterson's testimony, it introduced Appellant's query, “How can you arrest me for something if I don't have a gun?” Id. at 105.

Pa. Superior Court slip op., ECF No. 12-10 at 1 - 3.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. State Procedural History

         On May 23, 2008, Petitioner was convicted of inter alia, third degree murder. No direct appeal was filed at that time. On March 26, 2009, Petitioner filed a Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) Petition, which ultimately resulted in the reinstatement of Petitioner's direct appeal rights on February 22, 2010. Accordingly, on March 16, 2010, Petitioner filed a direct appeal to the Superior Court. In response to Petitioner's Concise Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal, the trial court issued its opinion on May 19, 2010, explaining the reasons for denying relief. ECF No.12-2 at 62 - 67. On December 3, 2010, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court and adopted the trial court's opinion as its own. ECF No. 12-3 at 36 - 37. On December 30, 2010, Petitioner filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which denied it on July 26, 2011. ECF No. 12-5 at 3. On May 30, 2012, Petitioner filed a PCRA Petition, which was denied, after a hearing, by the PCRA Court, on October 22, 2012. ...


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