United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
5, 2016, Carlton Bennett filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On February
1, 2017, Magistrate Judge Rice issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the
petition be denied. (ECF No. 13.) Bennett filed objections to
the R&R on April 20, 2017. (ECF No. 19.) After thoroughly
reviewing the record, Magistrate Judge Rice's R&R and
Bennett's objections, the Court overrules those
objections and adopts the R&R.
was convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, criminal
conspiracy and possessing an instrument of crime in the Court
of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on January 27, 1993.
Commonwealth v. Carlton Bennett, No. 51-933202-1991
(Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Phila. Cnty. Jan. 21, 1993). The court
sentenced Bennett to a mandatory life sentence for the
second-degree murder conviction and concurrent terms of
incarceration for the other offenses. Id. Bennett
filed a direct appeal and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania
affirmed his conviction on February 17, 1994.
Commonwealth v. Bennett, 643 A.2d 701 (Pa. Super.
Feb. 17, 1994). Bennett did not seek review from the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
filed a timely petition under Pennsylvania's Post
Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) on March 17, 1995.
Commonwealth v. Carlton Bennett, No. 253 EDA 2014,
2016 WL 545908, at *1 (Pa. Super. Feb. 9, 2016). The PCRA
court dismissed the petition on April 10, 1997. Id.
Bennett appealed and the Superior Court affirmed.
Commonwealth v. Carlton Bennett, No. 1290 EDA 2000
(Pa. Super. Aug. 28, 2003). Again, Bennett did not seek
review from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
April 25, 2006, Bennett filed a new PCRA petition, alleging
that there was newly discovered evidence of his innocence.
Commonwealth v. Carlton Bennett, CP-51-0933202-1991,
468 EDA 2007 (C.C.P. Phil. Co. Nov. 22, 2013). On January 24,
2007, the PCRA court dismissed Bennett's petition as
untimely. Id. at 10. Bennett appealed, and on May 1,
2008, the Superior Court remanded Bennett's petition so
that he could add a claim based on a new affidavit. After
holding a series of evidentiary hearings, the PCRA court
again denied Bennett's PCRA petition as untimely on
November 11, 2013 and the Superior Court affirmed that
decision on February 9, 2016. Id. at 18.
28, 2016, Bennett filed this pro se petition for a
writ of habeas corpus, raising three claims. (ECF No. 1.)
First, Bennett avers that his life sentence without the
possibility of parole violates the Eighth Amendment in light
of the Supreme Court's holding in Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). Second, Bennett contends
he is actually innocent and, finally, that the fundamental
miscarriage of justice exception applies. (ECF No. 1 at 5,
7.) On February 1, 2017, Judge Rice issued his R&R,
recommending that Bennett's claims for relief be denied
because his habeas petition was untimely. (R&R at 1, ECF
No. 13.) On April 20, 2017, Bennett filed two objections to
the R&R: (1) that he is entitled to an alternative start
date of the one-year statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(1)(C) based on Miller; and (2) that
the fundamental miscarriage of justice exception applies
based on new evidence demonstrating his actual innocence.
facts of this case are set forth in detail in Judge
Rice's R&R and need not be repeated here.
“[F]or the portion of the R&R to which no objection
[is] made, the Court reviews the R&R for clear
error.” Harris v. Mahally, No. 14-2879,
2016 WL 4440337, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 22, 2016). The Court
reviews de novo the specific portions of the R&R
to which a party objects. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); see also Cont'l Cas. Co. v. Dominick
D'Andrea, Inc., 150 F.3d 245, 250 (3d Cir. 1998).
The Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) imposes a one-year statute of
limitations on applications for writs of habeas corpus. 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The limitations period begins to
run from the latest of the following:
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for
seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application
created by State action in violation of the Constitution or
laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was