Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence March 12, 2007 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No. CP-51-CR-0609801-2006.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bender, J.
BEFORE: BENDER, PANELLA and KELLY, JJ.
¶ 1 Desmond Scott appeals the judgment of sentence imposed following his conviction of Escape, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5121, in connection with his failure to return to a Community Correction Center. Scott contends that the evidence adduced at trial was not legally sufficient to sustain his conviction as he was on parole at the time of the events charged and that the record fails to establish otherwise. Upon review, we find no merit in Scott's assertion. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of sentence.*fn1
¶ 2 The record reveals that Scott was convicted of Burglary and commenced two to four years' incarceration on October 11, 2003. On September 19, 2005, the Department of Corrections transferred Scott from SCI-Chester to serve a period of prerelease custody at Kintock Broad, a Community Correction Center then in operation in Philadelphia. After Scott's placement at Kintock Broad, he received a "Notice of Board Decision" from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole dated November 21, 2005, that apprised him of the Board's decision to "parole [him] to an approved plan upon condition that there are no misconducts and subject to [enumerated] special conditions." Brief for Appellant, Exhibit "C." Thereafter, Scott remained at Kintock Broad until January 11, 2006, when he left the facility on an approved work pass but failed to return. Although Scott telephoned the director of the facility on the following day to explain his departure and discuss returning, he remained at large until February 6, 2006, when he was arrested on unrelated charges.
¶ 3 Scott's Escape charge came to trial in November 2006. Following waiver of his right to a jury trial, Scott's case proceeded non-jury before the Honorable Joan Brown, who found Scott guilty, imposing a sentence of eighteen to thirty-six months' imprisonment to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed upon his recommitment to a state correctional institution. At trial, the Commonwealth called several witnesses, including Roberta Albany, Field Investigative Custodian of Records for the Department of Correction (DOC). Albany testified concerning, among other things, the "Notice of Board Decision" that Scott received, noting that an inmate in receipt of such correspondence "will be told to go to our State Center and be in front of the Public Hearing Officer and sign the actual Release Order, which will be placed in their records." Hearing Volume 1, 11/16/06, at 24. Albany attested further that she did not have such a release order for Scott. Following Albany's testimony and the closing arguments of counsel, the court found Scott guilty of Escape and later imposed the sentence noted above. Scott filed a Motion for Extraordinary Relief, which the trial court denied. Scott then filed this appeal, raising the following questions for our consideration:
A. Was not the evidence insufficient to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on escape in that the evidence was insufficient to prove that the defendant was in official detention at the time of the alleged escape?
B. Was not the evidence insufficient to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of escape in that the evidence was insufficient to prove that the defendant possessed the necessary mens rea as to whether he was in official detention at the time of the alleged escape?
Brief for Appellant at 3.
¶ 4 Our standard of review of sufficiency claims requires that we evaluate the record "in the light most favorable to the verdict winner giving the prosecution the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence." Commonwealth v. Widmer, 744 A.2d 745, 751 (Pa. 2000).
"Evidence will be deemed sufficient to support the verdict when it established each element of the crime charged and the commission thereof by the accused, beyond a reasonable doubt." Nevertheless, "the Commonwealth need not establish guilt to a mathematical certainty," and may sustain its burden by means of wholly circumstantial evidence. Significantly, "[we] may not substitute [our] judgment for that of the factfinder; if the record contains support for the convictions they may not be disturbed." Commonwealth v. Brewer, 876 A.2d 1029, 1032 (Pa. Super. 2005) (citations omitted). Any doubt about the defendant's guilt is to be resolved by the factfinder unless the evidence is so weak and inconclusive that, as a matter of law, no probability of fact can be drawn from the combined circumstances. See Commonwealth v. De Stefano, 782 A.2d 574, 582 (Pa. Super. 2001).
¶ 5 In this case, the trial court convicted Scott of Escape based upon his failure to return to a Community Correction Center after he left the facility on an approved work pass. The provision of the Crimes Code applicable under such circumstances provides as follows: § 5121. Escape
(a) Escape.―A person commits an offense if he unlawfully removes himself from official detention or fails to return to official detention following temporary leave granted for a specific purpose or limited period. * * * *
(e) Definition.―As used in this section the phrase "official detention" means arrest, detention in any facility for custody of persons under charge or conviction of crime or alleged or found to be delinquent, detention for extradition or deportation, or any other detention for law enforcement purposes; but the phrase does not ...