United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. CARLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Garrett is a convicted double murderer who has filed two
federal habeas corpus petitions with this court. Garrett
v. McGinley, No. 4:17-cv-1574; Garrett v.
McGinley, No. 4:17-cv-2054. In these habeas corpus
petitions, Garrett invites us to embrace an extraordinary
proposition. According to Garrett, he has twice been the
victim of cruelly unjust coincidences, in that he was, on two
separate occasions, convicted of murders he did not commit in
trials which were fundamentally unfair.
facts suggest otherwise. In contrast to Garrett's claims,
the evidence appears to reveal that Garrett participated in
two murders in the span of three weeks. The crimes for which
Garrett is now convicted are remarkably similar. They all
took place in a short span of time. Each killing involved
gunshot wounds to the victims, and in each instance the
evidence of Garrett's guilt was clear and compelling.
in both cases, juries that heard the evidence and convicted
Garrett of his role in these slayings. Furthermore, in both
cases, Garrett then had a full and fair opportunity to seek
post-conviction relief in state court, both through direct
appeals and through state PCRA litigation. However, in each
case, Garrett's efforts were unavailing, since the state
courts found that Garrett's murder convictions were amply
sustained by the evidence, and Garrett had received fair
trials with the assistance of competent defense counsel.
in each instance, Garrett has pursued federal habeas corpus
relief in a tardy, and feckless fashion following the
conclusion of his state court litigation, filing untimely
federal habeas corpus petitions which raised seemingly
against this backdrop, for the reasons discussed in greater
detail below, we recommend that this petition for writ of
habeas corpus be denied.
Statement of Facts and of the Case
the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by
the petitioner, Isiah Garrett, a state inmate currently
serving two life sentences in the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections (“DOC”) at the State Correctional
Institution at Coal Township. In January 2015, following a jury
trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Garrett
was convicted of second-degree murder, two counts of robbery,
conspiracy to commit robbery, simple assault, and recklessly
endangering another person, charges that arose from the
shooting death of Kendrell Washington.
pertinent facts of the instant case were aptly summarized by
the Pennsylvania Superior Court in its decision affirming
Garrett's conviction and sentence:
On November 16, 2010, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Mr.
Washington and Paris Stanback agreed to meet to purchase and
smoke a $5.00 bag of marijuana. They met at a convenience
store at the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Harrisburg.
As the men walked north on 16th street, [Garrett] approached
them holding a revolver. He pointed the gun at them and
demanded that they “give up the weed.” (N.T.
Trial, 2/26/13, at 67). He ordered them to “get the
fuck on the ground.” (Id.). Mr. Washington
told [Garrett] that they did not have any marijuana and he
and Stanback dropped to the ground. Mr. Washington reached
into his pocket and gave [Garrett] his cell phone. Mr.
Stanback closed his eyes and heard the sound of a gun
clicking. [Garrett] fired a single bullet, which entered the
back of Mr. Washington's head, killing him. [Garrett]
said “did I sleep that little nigger[?]” and ran
from the scene. (Id. at 70). Witness Veronica Vinson
was walking nearby on 16th street at that time. She heard a
gunshot and then observed three men run past her.
On December 10, 2010, police officers executed a search
warrant on [Garrett]'s residence. They recovered two
revolvers in close proximity to ammunition from his bedroom.
On February 4, 2011, police showed Ms. Vinson a photo array,
and she identified [Garrett] as the last of the three men
that ran past her on the night of the incident.
On February 25, 2013, [Garrett] proceeded to a jury trial. On
February 28, 2013, the jury found him guilty of the
above-stated offenses. On April 5, 2013, the trial court
sentenced [Garrett] to a term of life imprisonment.
Commonwealth v. Garrett, 2015 WL 7573510, at *1 (Pa.
Super. Ct. Jan. 14, 2015).
appeal of his conviction and sentence, Garrett challenged the
sufficiency of the evidence to support his second-degree
murder conviction. He also argued that the Commonwealth did
not have sufficient evidence to prove that he was the shooter
or to prove intent. Id. at *3. In affirming his
conviction and sentence, the Superior Court found that the
Commonwealth did not have to prove that Garrett was the
shooter or that he had the intent to kill, as Garrett was
convicted of second-degree murder. Id. at *5.
Accordingly, the Superior Court found that the
Commonwealth's evidence was sufficient to prove that
Garrett acted as an accomplice to the murder, and that the
underlying intent to commit the robbery was present, which
permitted a conviction for second-degree murder. Id.
then filed a petition under Pennsylvania's Post
Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. § 9541 et seq., on November 3, 2015. This
petition was ultimately dismissed on October 7, 2016, and
Garrett's subsequent appeal to the Superior Court was
dismissed on February 1, 2017 for failure to file a brief.
(See Doc. 9, at 22-23).
instant habeas corpus petition was filed on September 5,
2017, seven months after the dismissal of Garrett's PCRA
appeal. (Doc. 1). In his petition, Garrett raises three
grounds on which he believes he is entitled to relief: (1) he
received an “illegal” sentence for second-degree
murder; (2) his trial counsel was ineffective; and (3) his
due process rights were violated when his PCRA counsel was
permitted to withdraw. (Id.) The respondents have
filed a partial response to the petition, contending that the
petition is time-barred. (Doc. 9).
we conclude that Garrett's petition is barred by the
applicable statute of limitations, and is lacking in merit,