Appeal from order Entered Docketed October 17, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal, No. 889-13831. Appeal from Order Entered Docketed October 14, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal, No. Misc. Dkt. No. 889-13831.
Arnold F. Laikin, Norristown, for appellant.
Donna G. Zucker, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for Phila. Police Dept, Police Com'r, appellee (at 3240).
Laurie Magid, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for the Com., appellee (at 3241).
Cavanaugh, Olszewski and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 389 Pa. Super. Page 54]
On August 4, 1988, at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon, police officer Thomas Smith (hereinafter "Officer Smith") and his partner were in plain clothes conducting surveillance in the area of 16th and Mount Vernon Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Officer Smith observed appellant, Louis Thompkins, driver and owner of the subject
[ 389 Pa. Super. Page 55]
vehicle, a 1984 Oldsmobile, stop at the southwest corner of 16th and Mount Vernon Streets. Officer Smith was within 30 feet of appellant's automobile. Officer Smith observed appellant's passenger, Eric Williams (hereinafter "Williams"), exit the vehicle, cross the street, and briefly talk to an unidentified male. Williams then went back to appellant, who had by now exited the vehicle himself. Appellant handed Williams some cash. Williams then crossed the street and received several small packets from the other man. Officer Smith was approximately 50 feet away from this man. Williams returned to the vehicle, and both individuals drove away. Officer Smith followed and observed Williams hand appellant a packet. The vehicle was stopped. The police found a small plastic packet of cocaine (71 milligrams) and a small straw on the bucket seat between appellant's legs. Under the passenger's left leg, the police found a small, bluish, plastic zip-lock packet of marijuana (2.1 grams). The officers arrested both individuals and seized the automobile.
Appellant states that he drove Williams to 16th and Mount Vernon Streets because Williams had to pick up something. When they arrived, Williams disappeared and came back a minute or so later. As they drove away, Williams handed appellant a small plastic bag with a straw in it. As soon as appellant looked at it, the police pounced.
After a hearing on October 14, 1988, appellant's petition for return of his automobile was denied. On October 17, 1988, the same court issued an order granting the Commonwealth's forfeiture petition. On May 1, 1989, these cases were consolidated by stipulation. Appellant appeals to this Court.
Appellant advances two arguments: (1) that there was insufficient evidence to find that the Commonwealth had met its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner of the automobile was connected with the unlawful use of the automobile; and (2) that the ...