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Rykard v. Glunt

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 17, 2019

ERNEST WESLEY RYKARD, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN A. GLUNT, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondents.

          ORDER-MEMORANDUM

          C. DARNELL JONES, II J.

         AND NOW, this 17th day of September, 2019, upon careful and independent consideration of the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1-1), the Report and Recommendation of the Honorable Henry S. Perkin, United States Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 23), Petitioner's Objections to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 27) and Petitioner's Motion to Supplement (ECF No. 29), it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

1. This case is returned to ACTIVE status.[1]
2. The Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 23) is APPROVED and ADOPTED.
3. The Objections to the Report and Recommendation are construed with the Motion to Supplement (ECF Nos. 27, 29) and OVERRULED.
4. The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1-1) is DENIED WITH PREJUDICE.
5. There is no basis for the issuance of a certificate of appealability.
6. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this case for statistical and all other purposes.

         Factual Background and Procedural History

         Petitioner Ernest Wesley Rykard (“Rykard”) does not object to the recitation of the relevant factual and procedural background set forth in the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). See Obj. R&R (ECF No. 27); see also Mot. Supp. (ECF NO. 29). As such, and upon independent verification of the record, this Court adopts the following facts and procedural history set forth by Magistrate Judge Perkin.

Here, the record reveals that Ms. Rosario-Casanova testified in detail as to [Petitioner's] involvement in the formulation of the plan to rob the victim and [Petitioner's] involvement in executing the plan. Ms. Rosario-Casanova testified that on November 29, 2006, she, Jacquin Carr, Rachel Rikita, and [Petitioner] decided to drive to the victim's house and rob him of cocaine. N.T. 3/5/08, at 495-520. Ms. Rikita called the victim and asked to buy 2 eight-balls of cocaine. Id. at.497. The group drove to the victim's house. Id. at 503. Jacquin Carr and [Petitioner] were lying in wait for the victim to come outside. Id. at 506. When the victim came outside, Jacquin Carr and [Petitioner] grabbed the victim and held him down. Id. at 509. Jacquin Carr held the victim down while [Petitioner] pointed a gun at the victim's head and Ms. Rosario-Casanova took drugs from the victim's pockets. Id. at 509-511. Ms. Rosario-Casanova testified that while Jacquin Carr held the victim face-down on the ground, [Petitioner] aimed the gun at the back of the victim's head. Id. at 513. Ms. Rosario-Casanova got back into the car, and [Mr. Carr and Petitioner] joined her shortly. Id. at 517. The group then fled. Id. Ms. Rikita's testimony corroborated Ms. Rosario-Casanova's. See Id. at 647-659. Commonwealth v. Rykard, No. 1399 MDA 2008; Respondents' Exhibit I at p. 5.
Rykard was arrested and tried before a jury in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County before the Honorable Dennis E. Reinaker. On May 22, 2008, he was found guilty of second degree murder. On April 1, 2008, petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Rykard appealed. On May 14, 2009, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the conviction, and on November 30, 2009, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied further review. Commonwealth v. Rykard, No. 1399 MDA 2008; Respondents' Exhibit I.
On October 25, 2010, Rykard filed a pro se petition for collateral review in state court pursuant to the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa.C.S. § 9541, et seq. Counsel was appointed to represent petitioner, but after reviewing the record, he filed a “no merit” letter, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Turner, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988) and Commonwealth v. Finley, 550 A.2d 213 (Pa. Super. 1988). In the letter, PCRA Counsel addressed his reasons for not pursuing the four claims in Rykard's pro se PCRA petition and a fifth claim that petitioner had asked him to pursue. Respondents' Exhibit M.
On December 31, 2010, the PCRA Court issued a notice of intent to dismiss pursuant to Rule 907, advising petitioner of his right to file further pro se challenge. Respondents' Exhibit N. On May 23, 2011, petitioner filed a response to the notice of intent to dismiss, arguing that the no merit letter was deficient and raising several new claims. Respondents' Exhibit O. On May 27, 2011, the PCRA Court dismissed the petition.
Petitioner appealed the dismissal. On September 18, 2012, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the denial of the PCRA petition. Commonwealth v. Rykard, 1120 MDA 2011; Respondents' Exhibit V. On May 2, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the petition for allowance of appeal.[2]
On May 21, 2013, petitioner filed the present habeas petition and a related memorandum of law in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, raising seven claims, several with subparts. Upon review, the Court transferred the petition to this Court for review, since petitioner's conviction was obtained against him in the Court of Common Pleas for Lancaster County, which is located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. [The Honorable C. Darnell Jones received his case and referred it to the Honorable Henry S. Perkin, United States Magistrate Judge, for a Report and Recommendation. ECF No. 2.] The Commonwealth filed a response to the habeas petition on August 26, 2013.
On January 2, 2015, petitioner filed a motion for stay and abeyance in this case, which was granted by the Honorable C. Darnell Jones, II, on February 25, 2015.
On December 19, 2016, this Court ordered petitioner and the Commonwealth to file an update regarding the status of this case in state court. The Commonwealth argued that the stay should be lifted. Petitioner sought to continue the stay.
In addition to the seven claims included in his original petition and memorandum of law, petitioner has submitted eleven additional claims through several supplemental pleadings. In total, eighteen claims have been presented to this Court. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the eleven claims included in Rykard's supplemental filings are barred by the statute of limitations. Further, we conclude that seven claims [t]hat were timely submitted are meritless. Accordingly, we recommend that his petition be dismissed with prejudice.

R&R at 1-3 (ECF No. 23).

         After a careful, complete and exceedingly thorough review of the relevant filings, Magistrate Judge Perkin recommended that the Petition be denied. R&R at 3. Rykard timely filed objections (the “Objections”) to the R&R (ECF No. 27), which this Court considers herein. Rykard then filed a Motion to Supplement his Objections (ECF No. 29), which is also considered herein. For the brief reasons ...


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