Holloway v. Horn, CIVIL ACTION No. 00-CV-1757, CAPITAL CASE (E.D. Pa. 8/27/2001), CIVIL ACTION No. 00-CV-1757, CAPITAL CASE.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Writing for the CourtVan Antwerpen
PartiesARNOLD HOLLOWAY, Petitioner, v. MARTIN HORN, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and DONALD VAUGHN, CAPITAL CASE Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Respondents.
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION No. 00-CV-1757, CAPITAL CASE.
Decision Date27 August 2001

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MARTIN HORN, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and DONALD VAUGHN, CAPITAL CASE Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Respondents.
United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.
August 27, 2001.

VAN ANTWERPEN, District Judge.


This matter is before us pursuant to a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed by Arnold Holloway ("Petitioner"), a/k/a Nasir Kareem, a/k/a Arnold L. Walker, a/k/a/ Prince Lee Holloway, on April 3, 2000. Petitioner presents sixteen claims and numerous subclaims under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in pursuit of relief from his state murder conviction and death sentence. Petitioner was arrested on May 30, 1985 and charged with possession of the instrument of a crime, criminal conspiracy and first degree murder arising from the death of Richard Caldwell on May 16, 1980. Richard H. Knox, Esq. was appointed by the state trial court to assist Petitioner in presenting his defense, but he withdrew upon the entry of appearance by the privately retained Barry Denker, Esq. ("trial counsel"). Petitioner was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Drew R. Barth ("the ADA" or "the prosecutor"). Petitioner was found guilty by a jury on all charges in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, June Term, 1985, Nos. 1305-1308, Hon. Albert F. Sabo, presiding, on May 22, 1986. The same jury fixed the penalty at death the next day in a bifurcated proceeding. Mr. Denker filed post-verdict motions, but then sought to withdraw as counsel because of Petitioner's dissatisfaction with his performance and his own ill health, but Judge Sabo ordered that his firm continue to represent Petitioner. Thereafter Petitioner was represented at post-verdict proceedings by Mary Zell, Esq., an associate of Mr. Denker's, who refused to argue Mr. Denker's ineffectiveness. In an opinion dated September 21, 1987, Judge Sabo denied relief on all grounds raised in the motion. Petitioner filed a timely appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He was represented on direct appeal by Richard R. Redmond, Esq. ("appellate counsel" or "direct appeal counsel"), who filed a brief on his behalf on November 2, 1988. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied relief on March 20, 1990. Commonwealth v. Holloway ("Holloway I"), 572 A.2d 687 (Pa. 1990).

On May 3, 1991 Petitioner filed a pro se petition for collateral post-conviction relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9541 et seq. On August 5, 1991, John P. Cotter, Esq. ("PCRA counsel") was appointed to represent Petitioner in his post-conviction proceedings. PCRA counsel filed an Amended Petition and Memorandum of Law on June 21, 1993. Several more counseled and pro se supplemental petitions and memoranda of law were filed. On July 19, 1995, Judge Sabo ordered that an evidentiary hearing be held in conjunction with Petitioner's claims for state post-conviction relief, and such hearing was held on February 10, 1997. Petitioner's post-conviction claims were denied in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Appeals/Post Trial Unit, on July 16, 1997. Petitioner then filed a timely appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and briefs were filed by new counsel. The appeal was denied on October 1, 1999, and the decision of the Court of Common Pleas, Hon. Albert F. Sabo, was affirmed. See Commonwealth v. Holloway ("Holloway II"), 739 A.2d 1039 (Pa. 1999).

This case comes before us under § 2254 of the AEDPA, which permits federal courts to grant, under certain circumstances, a writ of habeas corpus to prisoners convicted in state court. Petitioner filed his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition" or "Pet.") in this Court on April 3, 2000. His Petition was followed by a Memorandum of Law in Support of Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Memorandum of Law" or "Pet. Mem. L.") and a Motion for Discovery on June 22 of that year.1 We denied the Motion for Discovery on August 9, 2000. The Commonwealth submitted its Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Comm. Resp.") on February 28, 2001. On March 23, 2001, we ordered that the Clerk of Quarter Sessions Court of Philadelphia County file with the Clerk of this Court all records of Petitioner's state court proceedings, and we received such records on April 20, 2001. Petitioner filed a Reply Memorandum in Support of Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Pet. Reply Mem.") on May 10, 2001. After reviewing the entire record and the filings of the parties, we found that Petitioner had shown good cause for us to exercise our discretion and order limited discovery of evidence supporting the claim of racial discrimination in the selection of Petitioner's jury, which we ordered on July 5, 2001. The parties provided such discovery to each other and the Court by July 24, 2001. Oral arguments thereon were held on August 2, 2001, at which time Petitioner submitted a Motion for Summary Judgment on the Batson Claim. On August 6, 2001 we scheduled an evidentiary hearing to be held on August 16, 2001 as to direct appeal counsel's reasons for not raising the Batson claim. On August 14, 2001 the Commonwealth filed a Response to Petitioner's Motion for Summary Judgment on the Batson Claim and a Motion for Reconsideration of Grant of Evidentiary Hearing. The evidentiary hearing was held on August 16, 2001, at which time we denied the Motion for Reconsideration. Both parties filed post-hearing letter-briefs on August 17, 2001. All papers, oral arguments, evidence from the hearing, and the expanded record have been considered herein, except as specifically noted. We have placed the burden of proof on Petitioner to establish by a preponderance of the evidence any or all of the sixteen claims and numerous subclaims included in his Petition, and find that he has satisfied this burden with respect to one of his subclaims. We therefore vacate Petitioner's death sentence and remand his case to the Pennsylvania courts with an order that there be a resentencing proceeding.


The Commonwealth's evidence at trial consisted primarily of Petitioner's unsigned statement, the statement and testimony of Shirley "Bones" Baker (Baker), and the testimony of a medical examiner and several police officers.

On May 16, 1980, at approximately 1:45 a.m., police were summoned to the 300 block of West Sedgley Street in Philadelphia, where, lying in the street, was a dead body later identified as Richard Caldwell ("Caldwell" or "the victim").

Baker was arrested in January 1985 on bench warrants arising from her failure to appear for sentencing on several drug charges. While under arrest, she made a statement to the police regarding her knowledge of the murder of Caldwell, implicating Petitioner and others. She testified at Petitioner's trial, and her testimony was consistent in most material aspects with her previous statement.

At trial, Baker described an operation in which she, Petitioner, Danny "Black" Freeman (Freeman), and Caldwell sold heroin for Leroy "Bubbles" Johnson (Johnson). Petitioner obtained heroin from Johnson and then distributed it to Baker, Freeman and Caldwell who sold it on the street. The money was split between the dealers who sold the heroin on the street and Petitioner, who then gave the money to Johnson. In May of 1980, Johnson grew impatient because Caldwell owed him money for drugs he sold. (N.T. 5/19/86 at 70-76, 85.) Petitioner revealed in his statement that Johnson was also angry at Caldwell because Caldwell owed money to a rival drug dealer with whom Johnson wanted to do business, and Caldwell's debt was interfering with his plans. (N.T. 5/19/86 at 164-165.)

Baker testified that around midnight on May 16, 1980 she was selling heroin at a bar at 7th and Allegheny Avenues in North Philadelphia. Johnson arrived and offered Baker some cocaine, so they left the bar and went to Baker's apartment. After snorting the cocaine, Petitioner and Freeman arrived, and Petitioner asked to borrow Johnson's van. Johnson informed them that Caldwell was in the van, and Petitioner replied, "I can take care of that now." Then, Petitioner and Freeman went upstairs, got a shotgun, and left the apartment. Petitioner and Freeman returned between a half hour and an hour later and whispered with Johnson about shooting and strangling Caldwell. Petitioner, Johnson, and Freeman then left the apartment and Baker returned to the bar. (N.T. 5/19/86 at 79-83; 131.)

Petitioner's unsigned statement to police made after he was arrested in May 1985 presents a similar account with some significant differences. Petitioner stated that he, Johnson, Baker, and Freeman were all snorting cocaine in Petitioner's apartment, while Caldwell was passed out in Johnson's van.2 Johnson instructed Petitioner to "Go, get on your job." Petitioner protested, wondering if he might simply hurt Caldwell instead of killing him. Johnson replied, "It's either you or him." According to the statement, Johnson had earlier told Petitioner: "When I get him set up take him out and shoot him." After getting the shotgun and leaving the apartment, Petitioner and Freeman tied Caldwell's hands together, and drove several blocks to 3rd and Sedgley Streets. They pushed Caldwell out of the van, strangled him, taking turns pulling at a belt around his neck, and each shot him once in the head. They then drove the van back to Seventh Street, and informed Johnson that the job was done. (N.T. 5/19/86 at 161-162.)

The medical examiner, Dr. Halbert Fillinger, testified that the cause of Caldwell's death was two shotgun blasts to the head and strangulation by ligature. He revealed that the shotgun wounds had been inflicted at contact range on the right side of the victim's head, and also testified that a 1.3 cm wide...

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