Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of February 2, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at Nos. 85-08-2210-2212.
Janis Smarro, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Donna G. Zucker, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Hoffman and Hester, JJ.
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On October 18, 1986, appellant, Aurelio Ramos, was convicted by a jury of third degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime. Following denial of his motion for a new trial, he was sentenced, on February 2, 1987, to twelve and one-half to twenty-five years in prison, and he filed a timely appeal. As we conclude that his allegations of trial error are meritless, we affirm the judgment of sentence.
The evidence establishes that the murder victim, Frank Morales, was a drug dealer in the vicinity of Eighth and Butler Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the area upon which trial testimony centered. On June 27, 1985, at 5:30 in the evening, appellant approached Morales and shot at him four times with a revolver; three shots hit the victim.
Two eyewitnesses to the incident, George Garcia and Marcie Streger, identified appellant as the murderer. Garcia, a neighbor, was conversing with Morales when both men saw appellant approach. Morales pulled Garcia in front of himself, and they went down together as the shooting occurred. Garcia was not harmed.
Streger, who knew appellant prior to the incident, witnessed the shooting from across the street. She observed
[ 366 Pa. Super. Page 627]
appellant with three male companions walking along the street, when two of the men broke off and stood on a corner. Appellant and the older male continued down the street, passing directly in front of her. Streger watched appellant cross the street toward Morales, pull a gun from his trousers, and shoot Morales, once while Morales was standing next to Garcia and three times while Morales lay on the ground. When the police arrived, Streger told them that appellant, whom she knew by the nickname "June Bug," was the assailant. Later, she identified appellant's picture from a photographic array. Streger was positive in her identification of appellant as the murderer. N.T., 10/15/86, at 2.183-84.
At trial, the Commonwealth sought to establish that appellant was guilty of first degree murder for shooting Morales, an independent drug dealer, on the instructions of Hawk Pagan, a rival drug dealer in the Eighth and Butler Street area. The trial court permitted testimony on this subject by three witnesses. The witnesses were Adelita Gines, the victim's sister; Broderick Bass, a friend of the victim; and Philadelphia police officer William Bailey, who conducted narcotics investigations in the area during early 1985.
Gines testified that her brother sold drugs and that in September, 1984, she saw a physical confrontation between appellant and her brother. Pagan was present during the confrontation as were two other men. Pagan and accomplices shot at Morales, and Morales had a fist fight with appellant.
Bass testified that both Morales and Pagan sold drugs. N.T., 10/15/86, at 2.96-97. He described a June 24, 1985 incident during which Pagan, appellant and three other males shot at Morales. On another occasion, Bass heard Pagan threaten Morales, in appellant's ...