BOYLE. AUTRY & MURPHY Dennis E. Boyle, Esquire Supreme Court LD. No. 49618 Joshua M. Autry, Esquire Supreme Court LD. No.

208459 Megan E. Schanbacher, Esquire Supreme Court I.D. No. 306958 4660 Trindle Road, Suite 200 Camp Hill, PA 17011 Phone: (717) 737-2430 Facsimile: (717) 737-2452 Email: deboyle@dennisbovlelaw.com jmautry@dennisbovlelaw.com rnschanbachercmdennisbovlelaw.com

COMMONWEALTH

OF PENNSYLVANIA

: IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FRANKLIN COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA NO. CP-28-CR-I072-10 ./

v.
CHRISTOPHER THOMAS JONES PETITION

DEFENDANT'S

FOR POST-CONVICTION

COLLATERAL

RELIEF

AND NOW comes the Defendant, Christopher T. Jones, by and through his attorneys, Dennis E. Boyle, Esquire, Joshua M. Autry, Esquire, Megan E. Schanbacher and the firm of Boyle, Autry & Murphy, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 902, and petitions this Honorable Court for post-conviction relief in the above captioned matter for the following reasons: 1. Christopher T. Jones, the Defendant, is currently serving his sentence in the above-

captioned matter at State Correctional Institute Rockview, 1 Rockview Place.Bellefonte, PA 16823. 2. On March 17,2010, Trooper Jason K. Cachara of the Pennsylvania State Police filed

a Criminal Complaint, charging Mr. Jones with Voluntary Manslaughter - Unreasonable Belief, 18 Pa.

c.s. § 2503,
3.

and Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa. C.S. § 2504.

Mr. Jones was accused of shooting his wife at 4:30 a.m. on February 25,2010, who

he believed to be an intruder.

4. 5.

On March 25,2010, Mr. Jones waived arraignment. On July 6,2010, the Commonwealth filed an Information, charging Mr. Jones with

Voluntary Manslaughter - Unreasonable Belief, 18 Pa. C.S. § 2503, and Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa. C.S. § 2504. 6. Mr. Jones hired David Scott Keller, Esquire to represent him on these charges, and

Attorney Keller represented Mr. Jones during the pre-trial, guilty plea, and sentencing phases of this case. 7. From the beginning, Mr. Keller pressured Mr. Jones not to go to trial, and said that

he did not "stand a chance." Mr. Keller was very clear to Mr. Jones that he would lose ifhe went to trial.

8.

To the contrary, in this case, Mr. Jones clearly acted in self-defense, and self-defense

is a complete defense to all charges. Com. v. Fowlin, 710 A.2d 1130, 1132 (Pa. 1998). 9. However, Mr. Keller failed to properly explain to Mr. Jones that self-defense is a

complete defense to his charges. 10. In fact, Mr. Keller inappropriately took sides with the Commonwealth and against

Mr. Jones' interests, stating that if this had happened to his daughter, he would be very angry and looking for vindication. 1L Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that he was "lucky" that the Commonwealth was not

prosecuting him for first-degree murder.

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12.

But even the Commonwealth recognized that "any charge of first degree murder could

not be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt based upon all of the evidence ..." Sentencing Hearing Tr. p. 6:9-11, attached hereto as Exhibit "A". 13. Mr. Jones had a rightto effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth and Fourteenth

Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. 14. In order to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must

show (1) whether the disputed act or omission by counsel was of questionable legal soundness, (2) whether counsel had any reasonable basis for the questionable act or omission, and (3) that counsel's improper course of action worked to his prejudice. Commonwealth v. Hickman, 799 A.2d 136, 14041 (Pa.Super. 2002). 15. Here, Mr. Jones is entitled to reliefbecause Mr. Keller improperly pressured him into

pleading guilty through erroneous legal advice. 16. In addition to their conversations, Mr. Keller expressed his views on Mr. Jones'

inability to succeed at trial in a letter on July 22,2010. Letter of July 22,2010 p. 2, attached hereto as Exhibit "B". 17. In fact, Mr. Keller misadvised Mr. Jones on the elements of the offenses, and told him

that "You intended to shoot someone, so it is voluntary manslaughter." 18. defense. In reality, Mr. Jones' had a complete defense to both charges because he acted in self-

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19.

Mr. Keller also erroneously warned Mr. Jones that the District Attorney's office

would use evidence that his wife had spoken to her brother about divorce in order to inflame the jury and show a specific intent to kill his wife. 20. However, this was an imperfect self-defense case, and Mr. Keller knew that the

Commonwealth had no intention of prejudicing Mr. Jones in front of the jury with false and misleading evidence of an alleged motive for Mr. Jones to kill his wife. 21.

In fact, the District Attorney did not believe the allegations that Mr. Jones had a

specific intent to kill his wife. Sentencing Hearing Tr. pp. 5-11, attached hereto as Exhibit "A". 22. As Mr. Keller acknowledged in a letter to Mr. Jones, "the fact that the

Commonwealth has charged you with Manslaughter indicates that they do believe you as to the circumstances surrounding the shooting. If they did not, you would be charged with Criminal Homicide and they would seek a conviction for Murder." Letter of July 22,2010 p. 1, attached hereto as Exhibit "B". 23. Accordingly, Mr. Keller's advice that the District Attorney would use such evidence

was misleading. 24. In addition, Mr. Keller did not explain to Mr. Jones that he could proceed to trial on

the complete defense of Homicide by Misadventure because everyone agrees that he accidentally killed his wife. Commonwealth v. Myers, 722 A.2d 1074, 1075 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1998). 25. As Mr. Jones later explained at sentencing, "As Did I react negligent? Yes. When I

fired the shot I didn't intend to kill anybody, I just fired a shot to stop someone from coming in my

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room ....

And it was a mistake ....

I know why I was wrong and I acted negligently ...

,"

Sentencing Hearing Tr. pp. 30:2-5, 31:4, 32:11-12, attached hereto as Exhibit "A". 26. Mr. Keller himself admitted, "He made a horrific mistake .... " Sentencing Hearing

Tr. p. 34:14, attached hereto as Exhibit "A". 27. 28. Misadventure. 29. Mr. Keller also falsely said that the prosecution would show the jury the photographs A mistake is not a homicide. The killing was unintentional and his actions were excusable as a Homicide by

of his wife lying dead on the floor to inflame the jury. 30. 31. 32. However, the photographs were clearly inadmissible in this case, and prejudiciaL Any advice by Mr. Keller to the contrary was inappropriate and erroneous. Moreover, Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that the prosecution would drop the involuntary

manslaughter charge. 33. Not only did Mr. Keller have no evidence to support this speculation, Mr. Jones

would be entitled to request a charge on the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter at trial. 34. at trial. 35. The Commonwealth offered Mr. Jones a plea deal, which required Mr. Jones to plead would waive the five year Because ofMr. Keller's advice, Mr. Jones thought that he had no hope of winning

guilty to Count 1, Voluntary Manslaughter, and the Conunonwealth mandatory minimum.

The remaining count, Involuntary Manslaughter, in the Information was to

be dismissed at sentencing.
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36. plead guilty. 37.

Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that this was a great plea agreement, and that he should

Mr. Keller informed Mr. Jones that the judge "would go easy" on him if he took the

plea, and that he would only receive a sentence of four years. 38. Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that he would be doing "the right thing" for his wife's

family by pleading guilty, and showing the community that he's "a man" about what he did that was wrong. 39. Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that jail time would "fly by fast," and that he would still

be young when he got out. 40. 41. Mr. Keller also told Mr. Jones that prison would help him through the grief process. In addition, Mr. Keller told Mr. Jones that he should not waste time and money on

a trial because he would lose anyway. 42. Mr. Keller failed to explain to Mr. Jones that if he went to trial and lost on both

counts, that the counts would merge for sentencing purposes. 43. 44. Based on his attorney's advice, Mr. Jones accepted the plea offer. At the plea hearing, Mr. Jones pled guilt to Voluntary Manslaughter, and the

Commonwealth nolle prossed the Involuntary Manslaughter charge. 45. Mr. Jones explained at the plea hearing: " .. .1 thought there was an intruder in my

house. I fired my weapon at close range and when I turned on the lights it was my wife. This is why I understand what they say with the intent of shooting someone. I did fire. So, I understand the charges that are against me." Plea Hearing Tr. p. 9:4-9, attached hereto as Exhibit "C". 6

46.

As his statement makes clear, he did not understand the elements of the offense of

voluntary manslaughter or that his beliefthat he was acting in self-defense would defeat any charges against him. 47. On March 3, 2011, Judge Meyers sentenced Mr. Jones to a term of 72 months to 168

months imprisonment. 48. "The Sixth Amendment guarantees the effective assistance of counsel at all stages

of a criminal proceeding, including during the plea process. If the ineffective assistance of counsel caused the defendant to enter an involuntary or unknowing plea, the PCRA will afford the defendant relief." Commonwealth v. Lynch, 820 A.2d 728,732 CPa.Super. 2003) (citingHillv. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52 (1985); Commonwealth v. Hickman, 799 A,2d 136, 141 CPa. Super. 2002). 49. "Where the defendant enters his plea on the advice of counsel, the voluntariness of

the plea depends on whether counsel's advice was within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases." Hickman, 799 A.2d at 141 (internal citations omitted). 50. Mr. Keller's assistance "cannot be said to have fallen within 'the wide range of because Mr. Keller

professionally competent assistance' demanded by the Sixth Amendment"

misrepresented the likely outcome of going to trial in order to convince Mr. Jones to plead guilty. Hickman, 799 A.2d at 141 (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,690 (1984». 51. Mr. Jones is entitled to relief because Mr. Keller induced him to plead guilty by

erroneously telling him that he would definitely lose at trial, but would only receive a four year sentence if he pled guilty.

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52.

Mr. Jones is also entitled to relief because Mr. Keller failed to tell him that the

charges would merge for sentencing purposes. 53. Had Mr. Jones been properly informed of the nature of his case and the plea offer, he

would not have entered into the guilty plea. 54. 9543(a)(3). 55. Counsel's failure to properly advise Mr. Jones could not have been the result of any This allegation of error has not been previously litigated or waived. 42 Pa.C.S.A. §

rational, strategic or tactical decision by counsel. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9543(a)( 4). 56. Accordingly, Mr. Jones' guilty plea should be vacated due to "[i]neffective assistance

of counsel which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place .... " 42 Pa, C.S.A. § 9543(a)(2)(i),(ii), 57. 58. In addition, Mr. Jones is entitled to relief because ofa change in the law. The Crimes Code has also been modified since Mr. Jones' sentencing to emphasize

his right to protect himself within his own home. Specifically, under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 505(b )(2.2), "an actor is presumed to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat if both of the following conditions exist: (i) The person against whom the force is used is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcefully entered and is present within, a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle; or the person against whom the force is used is or is attempting to unlawfully and forcefully remove another 8

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against that other's will from the dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle; (ii) The actor knows or has reason to believe that the unlawful and forceful entry or act is occurring or has occurred." 59. In this case, Mr. Jones had reason to believe that someone was illegally in his home,

and was presumed to have a reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary to protect him and his wife. 60. 9543(a)(3). 61. An evidentiary hearing is requested. The defense would call Christopher Thomas This allegation of error has not been previously litigated or waived. 42 Pa.C.S.A. §

Jones, the Defendant in the above-captioned action, and Earl & Lana Jones, Mr. Jones' parents. Each witness will testify to the accuracy of the information provided in this Petition, and to Christopher Jones' written and oral communication with Mr. Keller. Certificates as to each witness are attached hereto as Exhibits "D", "E" and "F".

62.

Mr. Jones will be represented at the evidentiary proceeding by Dennis E. Boyle,

Esquire, Joshua M. Autry, Esquire, Megan E. Schanbacher, Esquire and the firm of Boyle, Autry & Murphy.

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WHEREFORE. the Defendant, Christopher Thomas Jones, respectfully requests that this Honorable Court schedule a hearing on this Petition and thereafter permit him to withdraw his guilty plea.

Respectfully Submitted, BOYLE, AUTRY & MURPHY

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Denni~/Boyle, Esquire Supreme Court LD. No. 49618 Joshua M. Autry, Esquire Supreme Court J.D. No. 208459 Megan E. Schanbacher, Esquire Supreme Court I.D. No. 306958 4660 Trindle Road, Suite 200 Camp Hill, PA 17011 Telephone: (717) 737-2430 Facsimile: (717) 737-2452 Email: deboyle@dennisboylelaw.com jmautry@dennisboylelaw.com mschanbacher@dennisboye1aw.com Counsel For: Christopher Jones Dated: March 2,2012

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