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[U] Commonwealth v. Moreno

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

January 9, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
WILLIAM J. MORENO, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence April 16, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-02-CR-0017085-2010

Joseph D. Seletyn, Esq.

BEFORE: PANELLA, ALLEN, and STRASSBURGER, JJ. [*]

MEMORANDUM

STRASSBURGER, J.

William J. Moreno (Appellant) appeals from the judgment of sentence of 8.5 to 20 years' imprisonment, entered April 16, 2012, after he was found guilty of aggravated assault.[1] We affirm.

During the early morning hours of December 6, 2010, Appellant and his codefendant, Michael Szoszorek (Szoszorek), were at the Polish Veteran's Association bar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shortly after 3:00 a.m. that morning, bartender Nicole Knouff (Knouff) began asking customers to leave, as the bar was closing. Bar patron Michael Murray (the victim) endeavored to assist Knouff by approaching a group of men, which included Appellant and Szoszorek, and asking them to depart. Instead, Appellant struck the victim in the face. A brawl ensued, during which the victim was punched and kicked by Appellant and Szoszorek. The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered several injuries, including a broken leg and a concussion.

As a result of these events, Appellant was charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy.[2] A bench trial was held on January 25, 2012. At the conclusion of the trial, Appellant was found guilty of the aggravated assault charge, but acquitted of conspiracy.[3] On April 16, 2012, Appellant was sentenced to 8.5 to 20 years' incarceration. Appellant timely filed post sentence motions. A hearing was held, and the trial court denied Appellant's post sentence motions on July 20, 2012. Appellant then timely filed a notice of appeal. Both Appellant and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

Appellant now raises the following issue on appeal.

Whether there was insufficient evidence to prove that Appellant committed an aggravated assault when the evidence shows that Appellant did not attempt to cause serious bodily injury, did not cause serious bodily injury recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme [in]difference to the value of human life and did not have an accomplice?

Appellant's Brief at 4.

We consider a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence pursuant to the following standard.

As a general matter, 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. Evidence will be deemed sufficient to support the verdict when it establishes each material 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. Any doubt about the defendant's guilt is to be resolved by the fact finder 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.
The Commonwealth may sustain its burden by means of wholly circumstantial evidence. Accordingly, [t]he fact that the evidence establishing a defendant's participation in a crime is circumstantial does not preclude a conviction where the evidence coupled with the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom overcomes the presumption of innocence. Significantly, we may not substitute our judgment for that of the fact finder; thus, so long as the evidence adduced, accepted in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, ...

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