United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
CYNTHIA REED EDDY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) filed by
Petitioner, Jeffrey Stetter (“Petitioner” or
“Stetter”). Stetter is currently incarcerated in
the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania. For the reasons that follow, the Petition will
be dismissed and a certificate of appealability will be
and Procedural Background
is challenging the judgment of sentence imposed upon him by
the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on November 2,
2009. Stetter, in a non-jury trial before Judge Donald J.
Machen, was convicted on the charges of burglary, robbery,
and criminal conspiracy stemming from a home invasion /
robbery which occurred on September 18, 2005. Stetter waived
his right to a pre-sentence report and proceeded to
sentencing following the verdict.
factual and procedural history of this case are detailed in
the Superior Court's memorandum affirming Stetter's
conviction. Commonwealth v. Stetter, No. 711 WDA
2010, 30 A.3d 538 (Pa. Super. Ct. May 13, 2011) (unpublished
opinion) (ECF No. 12-2). The evidence at trial is summarized
as follows: the victim, Richard Sharp, testified that he was
with Stacy Bulford on September 18, 2005, in his trailer. He
admitted on cross examination that Bulford was a prostitute
and he was paying her to be with him that night. Sharp
testified that he left his home around 8:00 PM that evening
and returned at approximately 9:30 PM. Upon his return, when
he entered the trailer, he was struck by an unknown
assailant. He fell to the ground and his waist pack was taken
from him. The two assailants fled the scene after the attack.
Sharp called 911, resulting in the police's arrival upon
the scene, and due to the severity of his injuries, he was
taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Sharp testified
that he had brought Bulford to the trailer and paid her for
sex, and he had done so with other women, including Mary
Laurence. N.T. 11/09/09 at 21-22, 24. He also testified that
after police had identified Bulford as a possible accomplice,
Bulford identified Stetter and Maxwell as the two men who had
testified that she was in the trailer when Sharp was
attacked. According to Bulford, sometime after Sharp left,
Mary Laurence entered the trailer and told Bulford “not
to worry about what I'm about to see.” N.T.,
11/2/09 at 29. Laurence left the trailer and Bulford went to
sleep. She was awakened by the noise and flicked on a light,
enabling her to see Stetter and Maxwell. She admitted that
she never tried to help Sharp and never emerged from the
bedroom. Bulford confirmed that initially she told police
that she was in the bedroom and did not see anything. A
couple of months after the incident, however, Bulford
identified Stetter and George Maxwell as the two individuals
who entered Sharp's trailer and assaulted him.
final eyewitness to testify was Mary Laurence. Laurence was a
co-defendant with Stetter and Maxwell and was charged with
burglary and conspiracy. Without objection, her case was
severed from Stetter's and Maxwell's trial. N.T.
11/2/09 at 2. She testified under an agreement of probation
in exchange for her testimony against Stetter and Maxwell.
Laurence acknowledged that she prostituted herself to Sharp.
Laurence testified that she, Stetter, and Maxwell had been
smoking crack cocaine in a car on September 18, 2005. N.T.
11/2/09 at 48. They needed more money, and Laurence told
Stetter and Maxwell she would ask Sharp for money. N.T.
11/2/09 at 49. The group went to Sharp's trailer, but
they left because he was not home. A short time later, the
group returned to the trailer. Laurence testified that she
remained in the car and did not go into the trailer, but that
Stetter and Maxwell went inside to talk to Bulford.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Stetter and Maxwell returned
to the car. She noticed that Maxwell was carrying a
“belly bag.” N.T. 11/2/09 at 52. The men informed
her that Bulford had invited them into the trailer for couple
of beers and that at some point, Bulford said, “Here
comes Rich, ” she then turned off the lights and
directed them to hide. N.T. 11/2/09 at 53.
testifying for the Commonwealth was Detective Friburger, who
responded to the 911 call on September 18, 2005, at
approximately 9:30 p.m.
defense put forth no witnesses.
waived his right to a pre-sentence report and proceeded to
sentencing. The Commonwealth invoked the mandatory minimum
sentence pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 9714 as Stetter had a
prior conviction for robbery. The trial court rejected
counsel's request for Stetter to be sentenced
concurrently with the sentence of five (5) to ten (10) years
he was then serving at criminal information 200606819 and a
sentence of seven (7) to fourteen (14) years he was serving
at criminal information 200806982. Instead, the trial court
sentenced Stetter to ten (10) to (20) years imprisonment at
the burglary conviction (Count One) to run consecutively to
the sentences he was serving. No. further penalty was imposed
on the remaining convictions.
appealed his conviction and sentence to the Superior Court of
Pennsylvania. The appeal challenged the sufficiency of the
evidence, the weight of the evidence, and the fact that the
sentence was imposed consecutively rather than concurrently.
His conviction and sentence were affirmed on May 11, 2011,
and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied review by order
dated March 1, 2013. (ECF No. 12-3). Stetter did not seek
review with the Supreme Court of the United States.
on direct appeal, on May 22, 2014, Stetter filed a pro
se petition for collateral review under the Pennsylvania
Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. § 9541 - 9546, in which he raised the following
four (4) grounds for relief, which are reproduced verbatim:
1. The Court erred in sentencing Defendant to a mandatory
10-20 years pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S., sec. 9714(a)(1) and the
prosecutions request for same.
2. MARY LAURENCE wrote Defendant in 2012 that she desired to
help him reduce his sentences by confessing she had committed
perjury against him at trial and why.
3. STACY BULFORD confessed to 2 people, post-trial, that she
was a participant in robbing the victim and that she had lied
in identifying Defendant and why.
4. Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to establish
facts establishing BULFORD had committed perjury to credit
her identifications of the accused.
Petition (ECF No. 12-3 at 32). Robert Carey, Jr., Esquire,
was appointed to represent Stetter. On August 27, 2014,
Attorney Carey filed a “no merit” letter and
requested to withdraw from the case. (ECF No. 12-3). On
September 2, 2014, Judge Machen granted the request to
withdraw and issued a Notice of Intent to Dismiss the PCRA
petition without an evidentiary hearing. On September 30,
2014, Stetter filed a pro se response to the notice
of the court's intent to dismiss. By ordered entered
October 7, 2014, Judge Machen dismissed Stetter's PCRA
November 13, 2014, Stetter filed a pro se notice of
appeal. Due to the retirement of Judge Machen, the case was
assigned to Judge Joseph K. Williams, III. Judge Williams
issued a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion on February 11, 2015. (ECF
raised the following ineffective assistance of counsel claims
on appeal, which are reproduced verbatim:
1. P.C.R.A. counsel was ineffective for failure to raise
trial counsel's ineffectiveness, for failure to object to
trial court's application of 42 Pa.C.S. 9714 in
sentencing Petitioner to a mandatory minimum of 10-20 yrs.
Layered ineffective assistance of counsel, where counsel
failed to object to the Court “error” in
2. Ineffective assistance of appeal counsel, counsel failed
to investigate after-discovered evidence of
commonwealth's key witness perjured testimony.
3. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to unequivocally
establish facts at trial which would have prove the
commonwealth's key testified falsely.
4. Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to
investigate the witness's and the alleged co-conspirator,
Court Opinion, 10/22/2015 at 7-8 (citing Appellant's
Brief at 1, 5). (ECF No. 12-5). On October 22, 2015, the
Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the PCRA order.
Stetter did not seek further review.
been denied relief in state court, on October 28, 2015,
Stetter filed in this Court a pro se habeas petition
and brief in support. (ECF Nos. 4 and 6). The Court is somewhat
hampered in identifying the grounds on which Stetter seeks
habeas relief because in his Petition Stetter does not
identify any ground and does not identify any supporting
facts. See Petition, No. 12 at pgs. 6 - 9. (ECF No.
4). Rather, Stetter states “See attached.”
However, nothing attached to the Petition identifies the
grounds on which Stetter seeks habeas relief. With that said,
Page (V) of Stetter's Brief (ECF No. 6) lists the
following “Questions Asked, ” which are repeated
(1): DID SUPERIOR COURTS AFFIRMANCE OF COMMONWEATHS DENIAL OF
PETITIONER P.C.R.A. VIOLATE PETITIONERS 14TH AND 6TH
AMENDMENTS. WHEN SUPERIOR COURT ABANDONED IT'S LONG HELD
STANDARD WITH 42 Pa C.S. 9714(d) “MANDATORY
SENTENCING”. THUS CAUSING A MISCARRIAGE OF ...