United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
22, 2017, the Court received and filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
signed by Petitioner Donnell Price (“Price”), who
is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional
Institution at Rockview, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
(“SCI-Rockview”). (Doc. No. 1.) For the reasons
that follow, the Court will dismiss Price's habeas
is serving a term of life imprisonment imposed after he was
convicted of murder, child endangerment, and possession of
instruments of crime. (Doc. No. 1); see also
Commonwealth v. Price, Docket No. CP-22-CR-749-2012
(Dauphin Cty. C.C.P. Mar. 8, 2013); Commonwealth v.
Price, 1330 MDA 2013, 2014 WL 10919337 (Pa. Super. Ct.
June 3, 2014).
Pennsylvania Superior Court set forth the background of the
case as follows:
Price was married to Tarina Price (“Ms. Price”)
with whom he shared two children. Price and Ms. Price
encountered marital problems in 2011, resulting in the pair
living in separate areas of their home, located [on] . . .
Sycamore Street in Harrisburg. Eventually, Price moved out of
the Sycamore Street home and moved in with a friend [on] . .
. Logan Street.
In the months leading up to December 2011, Price increasingly
became frustrated and angry with his marital issues and
believed that Ms. Price was cheating on him. Price began
speaking to others about his anger towards Ms. Price,
including her coworkers. On numerous occasions, Price
expressed his anger and made references to killing Ms. Price
if he saw her with another man.
On December 15, 2011, at approximately 12:35 A.M., Darlene
Bradley (“Bradley”), a neighbor of Ms. Price,
awoke to her dog growling. Bradley heard a low voice saying
“help me, help me, help me.” Bradley looked out
from her second floor bedroom window and saw two people.
Bradley witnessed one person, who was later identified as Ms.
Price, struggling and trying to get up and watched her crawl
to the middle of the street. She then witnessed the second
person, a male, dressed in a dark sweatsuit, stand over Ms.
Price and pull out a gun. As Ms. Price put her hands in front
of her face, the man shot her in the head. He then turned and
left the scene.
Price, 2014 WL 10919337, at *1-2.
arriving at the scene and clearing Ms. Price's residence,
the Harrisburg police contacted Price, requesting to speak
with him at Ms. Price's house. Id. at *2. When
Price arrived, he was handcuffed and informed that he was not
under arrest, but that he was going to be detained for the
purpose of an investigation. Id. He was taken to the
police station where he admitted to killing Ms. Price.
Id. at *3. On November 21, 2012, Price filed an
omnibus pre-trial motion seeking to suppress all statements
made and items seized, which was denied on February 28, 2013.
Id. Following a jury trial from March 4 to March 7,
2013, Price was found guilty on all charges. Id.
filed a post-sentence motion on March 18, 2013, which the
trial court denied on July 24, 2013. Id. Price
appealed the denial of his post-sentence motion to the
Pennsylvania Superior Court, raising three issues: 1) whether
the suppression court erred in failing to suppress all
evidence discovered following his arrest; 2) whether the
suppression court erred in failing to suppress statements
made where he invoked his right to counsel; and 3) whether
the Commonwealth failed to present sufficient evidence to
sustain his conviction for first-degree murder. Id.
at *4. The Superior Court affirmed Price's judgment of
sentence on June 3, 2014. Id. On April 27, 2015, the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied allocatur. Commonwealth
v. Price, 629 Pa. 635 (Pa. 2014). Price then filed a
Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) petition,
raising an ineffective assistance of
counsel claim that was dismissed by the PCRA Court on June
21, 2016 as a result of Price's failure to respond. (Doc.
No. 1 at 9-11); Commonwealth v. Price, Docket No.
CP-22-CR-749-2012 (Dauphin Cty. C.C.P. June 21, 2016). The
Superior Court dismissed Price's PCRA appeal on December
15, 2016 due to Price's failure to file a supporting
brief. (Doc. No. 1 at 44); Commonwealth v. Price,
Docket No. 1124 MDA 2016 (Pa. Super. Dec. 15, 2016). Price
subsequently filed the instant petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on June 22, 2017.
(Doc. No. 1.)
Price's Habeas Claims
raises the following four grounds in the instant habeas
1. Whether the state court erred in failing to suppress all
evidence discovered following Price's arrest where he was
arrested without probable cause or a warrant in violation of
the Fourth Amendment;
2. Whether Price was denied his right to counsel in violation
of the Fifth Amendment;
3. Whether the Commonwealth failed to present sufficient
evidence to sustain Price's conviction of first degree
murder; and 4. Whether Price received ineffective assistance
of counsel. (Id.)
corpus is an “‘extraordinary remedy' reserved
for defendants who were ‘grievously wronged' by the
criminal proceedings.” Dunn v. Colleran, 247
F.3d 450, 468 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Calderon v.
Coleman, 525 U.S. 414, 146 (1998)). The exercise of
restraint by a federal court in reviewing and granting habeas
relief is appropriate due to considerations of comity and
federalism. Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 128
(1982). “The States possess primary authority for
defining and enforcing the criminal law. In criminal trials
they also hold the initial responsibility for vindicating
constitutional rights. Federal intrusions into state criminal
trials frustrate both the States' sovereign power and
their good-faith attempts to honor constitutional law.”
Id. States also have a recognized interest in the
finality of convictions that have survived direct review
within the state court system. Brecht v. Abrahamson,
507 U.S. 619, 620 (1993).
district court may entertain an application for a writ of
habeas corpus filed by a person in state custody “only
on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a). If a claim presented in a § 2254
petition has been adjudicated on the merits in state court
proceedings, habeas relief cannot be granted unless:
the adjudication of the claim - (1) resulted in a decision
that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established [f]ederal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a
decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of