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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Nafeast Flamer

September 6, 2012

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA APPELLANT
v.
NAFEAST FLAMER APPELLEE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANAIA APPELLANT
v.
NAFEAST FLAMER COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA APPELLANT
v.
MARVIN L. FLAMER COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVNAIA APPELLANT
v.
MARVIN L. FLAMER



Appeal from the Order April 4, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0007713-2009 Appeal from the Order August 11, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0007713-2009 Appeal from the Order April 4, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0007716-2009 Appeal from the Order August 11, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0007716-2009

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Panella, J.

J-A17041-12 & J-A17042-12

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., GANTMAN, J., and PANELLA, J.

OPINION BY PANELLA, J.

Currently before us are two appeals by the Commonwealth from separate cases*fn1 where the trial court denied part of the Commonwealth's motion in limine. Before the trial of Appellees, Marvin Flamer and Nafeast Flamer, for the murder of Allen Moment, Jr., the Commonwealth filed a motion in limine to introduce evidence of the Appellees' conspiracy to kill a Commonwealth witness, Abdul Taylor. After the trial court denied part of the Commonwealth's motion in both cases, the Commonwealth appealed. The central issue presented in these appeals is whether the trial court abused its discretion by excluding certain evidence that is capable of establishing the existence of a conspiracy between the Appellees to murder Abdul Taylor. After careful review, we reverse in part and affirm in part.

On January 20, 2006, Allen Moment, Jr. was shot multiple times in Philadelphia. Trial Court Opinion, at 1. Moment survived from this shooting for over two years, until August 6, 2008, when he eventually died from the injuries he suffered in the shooting. See id. Marvin, Nafeast, and Hakim Bond were arrested and charged with first-degree murder for killing Moment. See id., at 2.

At the Appellees' trial for the murder of Moment, the Commonwealth planned to call Abdul Taylor, who, according to the Commonwealth, had knowledge of the plot by Marvin and Nafeast to kill Moment. See Appellant's Brief, at 5. On May 6, 2010, three months before the case was scheduled for trial, Abdul Taylor was killed after being shot in the head at close range. See N.T., Motion in Limine Hearing, 4/4/11, at 27. Derrick "Heavy" White was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted of first-degree murder for killing Taylor. See Court Summary, Commonwealth v. White, CP-51-CR-0012991-2010, 11/29/11.

The Commonwealth had evidence that showed that both Marvin and Nafeast conspired with White to kill Taylor to prevent Taylor from testifying against them at the Moment murder trial. See Appellant's Brief, at 6. Before the Moment murder trial, the Commonwealth filed a motion in limine, where it sought to introduce fifteen pieces of evidence to establish that Nafeast and Marvin conspired with White to kill Taylor. See Commonwealth Motion to Admit Evidence, 3/24/11, at 4-6.

After considering the Commonwealth's motion, the trial court denied admission of most of the evidence referenced in the motion, granted admission of a very limited number of items, and held the remainder of the motion under advisement. See Order Granting in Part Denying in Part Motion in Limine, 4/4/11, at 2. The trial court permitted admission of (1) a photograph of Marvin and Nafeast with White, and (2) testimony of the medical examiner as to the cause and manner of Taylor's death. See id., at 1-2. The trial court stated that it admitted evidence of this conspiracy, over the Flamers' objections, to show the consciousness of guilt of Nafeast and Marvin. See Trial Court Opinion, at 6. The trial court made no judgment with regard to the admissibility of various telephone conversations made by Marvin and Nafeast, and took the admissibility of that evidence under advisement. See Order Granting in Part Denying in Part Motion in Limine, 4/4/11, at 2-3. The trial court found the remainder of the evidence connecting Marvin and Nafeast to the murder of Taylor inadmissible because it held that evidence was irrelevant, cumulative, confusing, and on balance prejudicial. See Trial Court Opinion, at 10.

On the same day the trial court entered its order, the Commonwealth filed an interlocutory appeal.*fn2 See Notice of Appeal, 4/4/11. Before filing its concise statement of matters complained of on appeal, the Commonwealth filed and was granted an application for remand, so the trial court could enter a ruling on the admissibility of the phone conversations it had held under advisement. See Order Granting Remand, 5/23/11. On July 25, 2011, the trial court heard argument on the admissibility of the recorded phone conversations and on August 11, 2011, the trial court entered its order with regard to the admissibility of that evidence. See N.T., Motion Hearing, 8/11/11, at 4. The trial court ruled that the Commonwealth could present evidence of the contents of two phone conversations between Marvin and Geneva Flamer, where Taylor was discussed, which took place on September 18, 2008, and May 7, 2010. See id., at 7,11. The trial court also allowed the Commonwealth to present evidence that Nafeast made phone calls to Geneva and talked to White on those calls on January 16, 2010, January 25, 2010, February 14, 2010, and February 17, 2010. See id., at 8-10. However, the trial court ruled that the Commonwealth could only present evidence showing that the calls were made; the contents of those conversations were held inadmissible. See id., at 8.

From this order, the Commonwealth then filed another interlocutory appeal.*fn3 See Notice of Appeal, 9/2/11. On appeal, the Commonwealth raises one issue: whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying part of the Commonwealth's motion in limine to admit evidence that connected Marvin and ...


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