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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Steve Bryant

November 26, 2012

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA APPELLEE
v.
STEVE BRYANT APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of April 26, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0014479-2007

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

BEFORE: SHOGAN, J., WECHT, J., and STRASSBURGER, J.*fn1

OPINION BY WECHT, J.

Steve Bryant ("Appellant") appeals from an April 26, 2011 judgment of sentence. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm. The trial court aptly summarized the facts of the case:

In 2005, [R.M.] began living ... in the city of Philadelphia with her cousin [D.B.], [D.B.'s] husband [T.B.], and [D.B.'s] son [M.B.]. While [R.M.] lived there, [D.B.'s] other son, [Appellant], frequently visited the home. In March 2006, when [R.M.] was thirteen years old and [Appellant] was thirty-four years old, [Appellant] touched [R.M.] in an unwanted and sexual manner on five separate occasions while they were alone in the house. Prior to these events, [R.M.] had started writing in a diary at age twelve and wrote in it daily. She kept her diary a secret and did not intend on showing it to anyone else. In March 2006, [R.M.] wrote about what [Appellant] did to her in her diary. [R.M.] again wrote about [Appellant] touching her in a different diary in an entry dated April 17, 2007. In July 2007, [R.M's] ten-year- old cousin found that diary on [R.M.'s] bed and, after reading the April 17, 2007 entry, reported it to [D.B.]. [D.B.] informed her daughter [A.J.], a Sergeant in the Philadelphia Police Department, of the diary's content. [A.J.] questioned [R.M.] about the diary, but she had not wanted to expose what [Appellant] did to her and thus, was not forthright about it at that time. When [A.J.] questioned [Appellant], he denied the accusations.

Consistent with her duty to report accusations of sexual abuse, [A.J.] gave the diary to the Special Victims Unit ("SVU").

However, the diary with the March 2006 entries was not turned over to the police. During the police investigation that followed, [Appellant] denied the allegations against him, but continued to be cooperative. [R.M.], however, did not want others to read her diary and thus, did not want to speak about the prior incidents. Nevertheless, on July 21, 2007, SVU Detective Kim Organ interviewed [R.M.] about the accusations. During the interview, [R.M.] was very upset and crying and although it was difficult for her to discuss what had happened, she admitted in her statement to Detective Organ that [Appellant] had touched her sexually.

Trial Court Opinion ("T.C.O"), 2/22/12, at 2-5.

The trial court also summarized the procedural background:

On February 9, 2011, [Appellant] elected to exercise his right to a jury trial and pled not guilty to Aggravated Indecent Assault,*fn2 [Endangering the Welfare of a Child ("EWOC")],*fn3 and Indecent Assault.*fn4 On February 11, 2011, the jury found [Appellant] guilty of EWOC and Indecent Assault. The case was deferred to April 26, 2011 for a pre-sentence investigation report and sentencing. On April 26, 2011, this court sentenced Bryant to 3- 6 years of incarceration in a state facility for EWOC. [Appellant] received no further penalty on the remaining charge.

On May 24, 2011, [the trial court] received a timely Notice of Appeal; however, this appeal was never docketed by the Superior Court. On August 2, 2011, this court reinstated [Appellant's] appellate rights nunc pro tunc and appointed new appellate counsel.*fn5

T.C.O. at 1-2 (italics added). This timely appeal followed.*fn6 Appellant raises the following issues:

1. Did the court err as a matter of law by denying the admissibility of the other diary pages under Pa.R.E. 106?

2. Did the court err as a matter of law by rendering a verdict which was against the weight and sufficiency of the evidence as it pertained to ...


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