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12/18/97 COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DAVID MARKS

December 18, 1997

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE
v.
DAVID MARKS, APPELLANT



Appeal for the Judgment of Sentence April 9, 1996. In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Criminal No. C.P. No. 9509-0368. Before FITZGERALD, J.

Before: Cavanaugh, Schiller and Montemuro, JJ.* Opinion BY Montemuro, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Montemuro

OPINION BY MONTEMURO, J.:

Filed December 18, 1997

Appellant, David Marks, appeals from the July 23, 1996 orders entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying his post-trial motions and affirming his April 9, 1996 judgment of sentence. We affirm.

On September 22, 1993, Maurice Anthony was murdered. Appellant, the suspect in the case, fled to New York, where he committed, was arrested for, and plead guilty to two additional homicides.

He was returned to Pennsylvania where, after waiving his right to a jury trial, he was tried for Mr. Anthony's murder in a bench trial on March 18, 1996 and March 19, 1996, at the Conclusion of which he was found guilty of third degree murder. On April 19, 1996, the trial court sentenced Appellant to the mandatory term of life in prison pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.

§ 9715, given his New York homicide convictions.

After the trial court denied his post-trial motions and affirmed his judgment of sentence on July 23, 1996, Appellant filed this timely appeal.

Appellant raises the following issues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict and the verdict was against the weight of evidence, and (2) a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 9715 is improper because this statute was not intended to apply when the crime triggering the statute occurred subsequent to the crime for which the life sentence is being imposed, and because application of the provision under such circumstances violates due process of law.

The testimony at trial developed as follows: On September 23, 1993, Detective Denis Graeber was assigned to investigate a possible crime scene at 1107 West Tioga Street, Philadelphia, where Appellant's mother found a dead body. Upon arrival, the Detective climbed the stairs to the second floor of the home where he observed four bedrooms linked by a hallway. Large amounts of blood stained the walls and floors of all but the back bedroom. In the front bedroom, next to a disconnected telephone, Detective Graeber found the deceased Mr. Anthony, with his head soaked in blood, leaning against a blood stained mattress. Outside of this bedroom, the Detective found a bloody sledgehammer and glove. Also located around the house were a loaded, sawed-off shotgun in the unlocked first floor closet, as well as a steak knife and tire iron in the second floor rear bedroom. The detective testified that the evidence at the scene indicated that an altercation began in the rear bedroom and progressed to the front of the house. Following his crime scene investigation, Detective Graeber obtained a warrant for Appellant's arrest. Appellant was not immediately apprehended, however, since he had fled to New York, where, after being arrested on an unrelated charge, he gave four different accounts of the Pennsylvania incident.

While a fugitive in New York, Appellant committed two homicides. In separate proceedings he pleaded guilty to both, receiving sentences of 20 years to life and 8 1/2 to 25 years imprisonment.

Dr. Edwin Lieberman, Assistant Medical Examiner, testified that an examination of the victim revealed numerous lacerations to the top, side and back of the Mr. Anthony's head caused by approximately 12 separate blows that could have been delivered by an individual wielding an instrument similar to the sledgehammer found at the scene. He concluded that the manner of death was homicide caused by acute blood loss due to blunt force injuries to the head. On cross-examination, Dr. Lieberman testified that because there was no internal bleeding on the brain and the skull was not fractured, it was unlikely that Mr. Anthony suffered the full force of a blow from the sledgehammer.

Appellant first claims that the evidence was insufficient to support a verdict and that the conviction was against the weight of evidence. When reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, this Court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner and determine if the evidence was sufficient to enable the fact-finder to establish all the elements of the offense. Commonwealth v. Rios, 546 Pa. 271, 279, 684 A.2d 1025, 1028 (1996). As such, when reviewing for sufficiency of the evidence, this Court may not substitute its judgment for that ...


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