Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence February 7, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0000096-2009
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stevens, P.J.
BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., BENDER, J., and DONOHUE, J.
This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County after a jury convicted Appellant Schneider Chine of first-degree murder*fn1 and possession of an instrument of crime.*fn2 Appellant challenges the sufficiency and the weight of the evidence supporting the jury verdict and claims the trial court erred in refusing to give jury instructions on self-defense and voluntary manslaughter. After careful review, we affirm.
Appellant was charged with criminal homicide and related offenses in connection with the murder of Jaleel Loving Thomas (hereinafter "the victim"). The evidence presented at Appellant's trial established the following factual background. On October 28, 2008, a man named Jude Lundi made a phone call to the victim's brother, Shawn Thomas, and confronted him with accusations that he had been robbed by one of Thomas's friends named Steve. Thomas felt that Lundi was unfairly implicating him in this crime as Lundi used the phrase "your man, Steve" to identify the robber. N.T., 2/1/11, at 121. As a result, Thomas asked the victim, his older brother, to drive him over to Lundi's home to "clear his name." N.T., 2/1/11, at 123.
When Thomas and the victim arrived at the West Albanus Street home, Lundi was hanging out with his two friends, Javon Gateward and Appellant. When Thomas explained to Lundi that he had nothing to do with the robbery, Lundi and his friends demanded that Thomas tell them where they could find Steve, the alleged robber. As Thomas did not want to get into the middle of this conflict, Thomas refused to give the men any information about Steve. After Thomas became frustrated when Appellant repeatedly asked why he would not tell them where his friend was, Thomas asked Appellant if he wanted to fight. The victim attempted to mediate the situation and told Thomas "to chill." N.T., 2/1/11, at 133.
After Thomas calmed down and was ready to leave, he asked the victim for the keys to the car, which was parked approximately ninety feet away. Appellant said "F**k that" and suddenly pulled out a black revolver from underneath his clothes and pointed it at the brothers. N.T., 2/1/11, at 135. As the victim was unaware of the gun because Appellant was behind him, Thomas tried to warn him by tapping him and running away. Even though Appellant knew both brothers were unarmed, he fired three shots at the unsuspecting victim's head. The first bullet missed, but the second two bullets hit the victim in the back of the head. Appellant then fired two shots at Thomas, but missed. After Thomas hid behind a car and looked back, he saw the victim lying on the ground and heard Appellant say "Yeah, pussy, boom, boom." N.T., 2/1/11, at 141. Once Appellant ran out of bullets, he fled the scene in a car.
Upon his arrest on November 30, 2008, Appellant admitted to killing the victim. Appellant claimed he felt it necessary to shoot the victim because he alleged that Thomas had asked the victim for the car keys in order to get his "burner" (gun) from the car, which was ninety feet away. Appellant gave a statement which included the following exchange:
[Appellant:] ... [The victim] was just standing there like he didn't want to get involved. But when ... the victim reached into his pocket, I could hear the keys and I thought [the victim] was going to give [Thomas] the keys so he could get his burner.
I didn't want [Thomas] to get the keys and get his gun and I saw that [the victim] was the immediate threat so I pulled the gun out of my pocket, pointed the gun at the back of [the victim's] head and fired a shot. I missed. Then I fired two more shots at [the victim's] head. [The victim] fell to the ground and then I fired two shots at [Thomas]. I was aiming for [Thomas's] legs, and he ran across the street.
[Question:] When you fired the gun at [the victim], did you mean to kill him?
[Appellant:] I didn't mean to kill him but I had to because I knew that if I didn't kill him, he would come back and ...