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Davis v. Balicki

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 18, 2013

DEON R. DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
KAREN BALICKI, Respondent.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On July 27, 2011, this Court denied the habeas petition. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied a certificate of appealability on December 13, 2011. Currently pending before the Court is petitioner's motion for relief from judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).[1] For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural background of this case was stated in this Court's July 27, 2011 Opinion. ( See Dkt. No. 23.) Therefore, the Court will only provide a brief recital of the factual and procedural background relevant to deciding the instant motion.

The facts giving rise to the state charges against petitioner arose from petitioner's stabbing of his former girlfriend at her place of employment with a screwdriver. After petitioner was detained by a security guard, police arrived at the scene and petitioner repeatedly told them that he "tried to kill the bitch." ( See Dkt. No. 22-2 at p. 2-3.)

Petitioner was found guilty by a jury in 2000 of second-degree aggravated assault, thirddegree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, third-degree terroristic threats and first-degree attempted murder. After pursuing a direct appeal and post-conviction relief ("PCR") petition, petitioner's sentence ended up being twenty-five years imprisonment with a seventeen year parole disqualifier.

In 2008, petitioner filed a federal habeas petition in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Most relevant to the instant motion, petitioner argued that his Confrontation Clause rights were violated when statements the victim's family made to police were admitted at trial. At trial, a police officer testified that he was told by the victim's family that she had been transported to Christiana Hospital and that she had puncture wounds of the bladder and intestine. The police officer then testified that he relayed that information to the assistant prosecutor who told him to charge petitioner with attempted murder.

In analyzing petitioner's Confrontation Clause claim, the Court's previous Opinion recited the state court's analysis of this claim; specifically that court stated as follows:

With respect to his Crawford argument, defendant contended that "[t]he victim's family statement to police went directly to the extent of the offenses charged." He claims that since there was no medical evidence admitted at trial on the extent of the victim's injuries, the allegations of the aggravated assault and attempted murder were based solely upon the family's statement which he was not permitted to cross examine in violation of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004). There is no merit to this argument.
We first note that defendant was sentenced on April 25, 2000. Our decision on direct appeal was rendered on December 17, 2001 and the Supreme Court denied certification on April 25, 2002. Consequently, defendant's appeals were not in the pipeline when Crawford was decided on March 8, 2004 and it cannot be applied retroactively. Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1173, 167 L.Ed.2d 1 (2007).
Even if we were to address the merits of defendant's Crawford claim, we find no merit in it. In Crawford, the Court determined that a testimonial statement, which cannot be cross-examined by the defendant, violates the Sixth Amendment confrontation clause of the United States Constitution. Defendant maintains that the charge of attempted murder was added after the victim's family notified the police that the victim underwent surgery for her wounds. He claims that there was no other basis for the attempted murder charge. The record indicates, however, that there is substantial first-hand evidence of attempted murder. The victim, herself, testified that defendant inflicted nine stab wounds to her head, chest, arms, stomach and back. She testified that she went from Salem Memorial Hospital, where she was first treated, to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where she had surgery to repair puncture wounds to her small intestines. Photographs of the victim's wounds were admitted into evidence and defendant had the opportunity to fully cross-examine the victim with respect to the seriousness of her wounds.
The officer on the scene testified to the nature and extent of the victim's wounds based upon his first-hand observations. Defendant had the opportunity to fully cross-examine the officer.
Moreover, the arresting officers testified that while defendant was in the police car, he said, "I tried to kill the bitch, " and as defendant was being escorted from the store, he repeatedly said, "I tried to kill the bitch, " "I wanted to kill the bitch." When he was placed in the police car, defendant said, "You better move out of the way because I'll take your gun, I'll go back in and kill the bitch" ...

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