United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Schwab, Chief Magistrate Judge
the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Chief
Magistrate Judge Schwab, recommending the denial of
Defendant's amended petition for writ of habeas corpus
filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 94.) Upon
review of the amended § 2254 petition, the Report and
Recommendation, and Petitioner's objections thereto, the
Court will adopt the Report and Recommendation in its
August 10, 2001, a jury convicted Petitioner Edward Mitchell
and his co-defendants, Kariem Eley and Lester Eiland, of
second-degree murder, robbery, and conspiracy to commit
robbery in connection with the July 2000 homicide and robbery
of Angel DeJesus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Com. v.
Mitchell, No. 782-2014, 2015 WL 7726738, at *1-2 (Pa.
Super. Ct. Jan. 12, 2015). Petitioner is serving a term of
life imprisonment for second-degree murder at the State
Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No.
94 at 16; see Doc. No. 19 at 4.)
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus submitted pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on December 28, 2009 (Doc. No. 1),
and an amended petition on October 19, 2010 (Doc. No. 19). In
his amended § 2254 petition, Petitioner raises three
grounds for relief: (1) the trial court's jury charge
defining reasonable doubt violated Petitioner's
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and right to a fair
trial; (2) the prosecution “improperly introduced a
prejudicial statement of a non-testifying co-defendant”
in violation of the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation
Clause; and (3) the Petitioner's actual innocence claim
was erroneously denied by the Pennsylvania state courts.
(Doc. No. 19 at 8-10.)
December 12, 2016, Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab issued a
Report and Recommendation, recommending that the amended
petition for writ of habeas corpus be denied. (Doc. No. 94.)
Petitioner filed objections to the Report and Recommendation
on January 10, 2017. (Doc. No. 99.) Petitioner filed a brief
in support of his objections on January 10, 2017 (Doc. No.
100), and a motion to supplement the record on January 31,
2017 (Doc. No. 101).
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), the writ of habeas corpus may only be
granted on behalf of a petitioner in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a state court if that petitioner “is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
Federal courts may not grant habeas relief with respect to
any claim that was adjudicated on the merits at the state
court level unless the state court's decision was
“contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States, ” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1), or “resulted in a decision that was based
on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court proceeding, ”
§ 2254(d)(2). Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362
filed eight objections to the Report and Recommendation.
(Doc. No. 99.) Six of the objections concern Petitioner's
Confrontation Clause challenge, one objection addresses the
trial court's jury charge defining reasonable doubt, and
the final objection pertains to Petitioner's actual
innocence claim. (Id.) The Court first addresses
Petitioner's challenge under the Sixth Amendment's
Sixth Amendment confrontation right
contends that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment
confrontation right by (1) admitting the testimony of Matthew
LeVan, which detailed co-defendant Lester Eiland's
confession to murdering Angel DeJesus, and (2) failing to
effectively provide a limiting instruction as to those
statements. (Doc. No. 100 at 37, 39.) Petitioner's Sixth
Amendment challenge focuses on the following testimony
offered by Matthew LeVan during Petitioner's joint trial
with Kariem Eley and Lester Eiland:
Q. Now, if you can, describe for the jury the conversation
you had with Lester Eiland while you were in the jail cell
A. He said about the sawed-off shotgun was used and a .380
pistol, and there was two other guns used and one was hidden
in a brick close to where it happened at.
Q. Did he say what kind of crime it was?
Q. Or began as?
A. Homicide - no, it was a ...