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Bell v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation And Parole

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 14, 2017

DARRYL ARTHUR BELL, Petitioner
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          William J. Nealon United States District Judge.

         Darryl Arthur Bell, an inmate formerly confined in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections[1], filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1). Bell challenges his classification as a Tier III sex offender under Pennsylvania's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"). 42 Pa.C.S.§ 9799.10, et seq. The petition is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

         Background

         In 1960, Petitioner, Darryl Arthur Bell, committed the crime of murder after he shot and killed Philadelphia grocery store owner Herman Rosenberg. (Doc. 7-1 at 16, Bell's December 24, 2013 deposition testimony; Doc. 7-1 at 48, 52, Philadelphia Police Department Offense Report dated December 22, 1960). Bell was subsequently sentenced to death for this crime. (Doc. 7-1 at 17). Bell was also implicated in the murder of Philadelphia grocer Max Kanal, and subsequently sentenced to death in the electric chair for this crime. Mi Bell's death sentence was overturned and converted to a life sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).

         In December of 1975, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recommended that Bell's Life sentence be commuted to a term of imprisonment of 16 years to Life. (Doc. 7-1 at 57, Board of Pardons Recommendation).

         On June 15, 1976, Governor Milton Shapp commuted Bell's sentence from Life to sixteen (16) years to Life, and eligibility for parole and pre-release consideration. (Doc. 7-1 at 59, Governor's commutation Order).

         On February 24, 1978, the Board released Bell on parole to an approved home plan. (Doc. 7-2 at 2, Order to Release on Parole).

         In or around 1986, Bell was charged with Rape of his 17-year-old stepdaughter. (Doc. 7-2 at 5, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Public Safety Face Sheet dated January 27, 1999). Bell was subsequently convicted of the crime of Rape and, on August 7, 1990, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of eight (8) to twenty (20) years of incarceration. (Doc. 7-2 at 7, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Sentence Status Summary Sheet). Bell's minimum sentence date on this new sentence was calculated as May 30, 2001 and his maximum sentence date was calculated as May 30, 2013. Id.

         By a decision mailed February 14, 1991, the Board recommitted Bell as a convicted parole violator for committing the new crime of rape while on parole and ordered him to serve forty-eight (48) months backtime. (Doc. 7-2 at 11, Board's recommitment decision). The decision mailed February 14, 1991, also provided that Bell would be reparoled on or after December 19, 1994 to his eight (8) to twenty (20) year detainer sentence. Id. Consequently, on December 19, 1994, Bell was constructively reparoled from his Life sentence for Murder in the First Degree to his eight (8) to twenty (20) year Rape sentence, which had a minimum date of May 30, 2001 and a maximum date of May 30, 2013. (Doc. 7-2 at 13, Order to Release on Parole/Reparole).

         On March 6, 2013, the Board requested that the State of North Carolina supervise Bell once he maxed out on his Rape conviction, as Bell's sister agreed to allow him to live with her in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Doc. 7-2 at 15, Board's Interstate Compact Transfer Request).

         On April 3, 2013, Bell filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court challenging his classification as a Tier III sex offender under SORNA. 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.10, et. seq. (Doc. 7-3 at 2, petition).

         On April 4, 2013, the State of North Carolina approved the Board's request to transfer supervision to their state. (Doc. 7-2 at 20, Reply to Transfer Request).

         On April 17, 2013, Bell was registered as a Tier III sexually violent offender in conformity with Pennsylvania's SORNA, in lieu of his 1990 Rape conviction. 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9799.13(2); 9799.14(d). (Doc. 7-2 at 24, Sex Offender Acknowledgment of Registration Requirements Form; Doc. 7-2 at 26, Pennsylvania State Police's Sex Offender Registration Form dated April 17, 2013). Also on April 17, 2013, Bell signed the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole's standard special conditions for sex offenders. (Doc. 7-2 at 29, Board's Special Conditions for Sex Offenders). The Board conditions signed by Bell do not specifically require him to register as a sex offender under Pennsylvania's SORNA Law, as this duty is required by his conviction and the operation of law. See Id. Additionally, on April 17, 2013, Bell also signed the regular and special conditions of parole for the State of North Carolina. (Doc. 7-2 at 35, North Carolina's Regular Conditions of Probation). The State of North Carolina's sex offender control conditions require that Bell register as a sexual offender in the State of North Carolina. See Id. On May 29, 2013, Bell signed the regular conditions of his parole prior to him maxing out on his 8 to 20 year Rape sentence. (Doc. 7-2 at 39, Conditions Governing Parole/Reparole).

         On May 30, 2013, the Board informed the State of North Carolina that Bell was traveling to their state via airplane. (Doc. 7-2 at 41, Interstate Compact's Notice of Departure). On June 18, 2013, the State of North Carolina informed the Board that Bell had arrived ...


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