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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RODOLFO SANTIESTEBAN (12/28/88)

filed: December 28, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RODOLFO SANTIESTEBAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from Order entered January 20, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal, No. 86-06-1687-1688.

COUNSEL

Anthony J. Petrone, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Jeffrey Hellman, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.

Olszewski, Del Sole and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 19]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying defendant's motion in arrest of judgment.

On March 7, 1986, Philadelphia Police Officer Rosemary Giordano obtained a search warrant for the premises located at 3521 North Phillip Street in Philadelphia. On that date at 6:30 a.m., Officer Giordano and other officers knocked on the door and announced their presence and possession of a warrant. The officers waited thirty to sixty seconds, and then broke through the door. In the second floor front bedroom, the defendant, Rodolfo Santiesteban, was lying in bed, awake, next to a sleeping female. On the floor was an open briefcase, full of United States currency, later determined to be $6,271.00. A closed metal box containing $4,500.00 in cash was found in a chest of drawers in the bedroom; an additional $522.00 was found in the pocket of defendant's pants, which were on the floor next to the bed.

On the first floor of the house, police found concealed inside a heating grate a plastic bag containing approximately one ounce of a hard white substance, later determined to be cocaine. The officers also found a brown paper bag containing empty clear plastic packets and 1,000 plastic bags. A gram scale, plastic strainer, and a grinder with cocaine residue were also found inside the heating grate.

Santiesteban was arrested and tried before a jury. He was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(30), and possession of drug paraphernalia, 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(32). Santiesteban filed a motion in arrest of judgment based on his contention that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction. This motion was denied. The defendant also filed a motion for a new trial, which was granted.

On appeal, Santiesteban raises one issue: Did the trial court err in denying defendant's Post-Verdict Motion in Arrest of Judgment on the basis that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove that defendant, as opposed to

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 20]

    other persons with equal access, was in constructive possession of contraband seized by the police?

At trial, the Commonwealth presented evidence that the defendant resided in the house on Phillips Street. Defense witness Flor Perez testified that he and another man named Angel Cruz were "doing drugs at that time" and would "go to the house on Phillip Street." Perez testified that he did not know what, if any, relationship there was between Angel Cruz and the defendant; he only knew that Angel Cruz had keys to the house and would "shoot up" cocaine there, and Perez would join him there to smoke cocaine. This activity went on for a period of approximately four weeks. Perez ...


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