Pennsylvania v. Towles

In May 2010, Appellant Jakeem Towles shot and killed Cornell Stewart, Jr. outside a former fire hall in Columbia, Pennsylvania, which had been converted into a local “fun center.” The center was hosting rap music performances, including a set of songs performed by the victim and another individual, John Wright. At a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder, and the jurors returned a death sentence at the conclusion of the penalty phase of the trial. The judgment of sentence was sustained by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on direct appeal. Appellant sought post-conviction relief averring, inter alia, his trial counsel was ineffective for rendering allegedly unreasonable advice by: (1) encouraging Appellant to refrain from testifying at the guilt phase of his trial; and (2) for failing to call a forensic psychologist as a defense witness at the guilt phase to opine that Appellant’s intoxication and paranoid personality features played a substantial part in his actions. Finding no reversible error or constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pennsylvania v. Towles" on Justia Law