Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of October 17, 2011, in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Criminal Division at Nos. CP-35-CR-0002437-2009 and CP-35-CR-0002436-2009
BEFORE: SHOGAN, OTT and COLVILLE [*] , JJ.
This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence. We affirm Appellant's convictions, vacate his judgment of sentence, and remand for re-sentencing.
The background underlying this appeal can be summarized in the following manner.
On August 18, 2009, [Appellant] was charged with offenses related to two separate incidents. The first incident was the June 27, 2009 shooting of Shaquan Burgess at or near 324 South 10th Avenue, Scranton ("Shooting Case"). The second incident was the July 13, 2009 robbery of the Dunkin' Donuts at Moosic Street, Scranton ("Robbery Case"). . . .
On August 19, 2009, through a separate Criminal Complaint, [Appellant] was charged with offenses related to the July 30, 2009 murder of Allen Fernandez in Ransom Township ("Murder Case").
Trial Court Opinion, 03/06/12, at 1.
Appellant filed an omnibus pretrial motion, which included a "Motion to Sever." In the "Motion to Sever, " Appellant sought separate trials for the Shooting, Robbery, and Murder Cases. The Commonwealth later sought to have all of the cases tried together. The trial court granted the Commonwealth's "Motion for Joinder" and denied Appellant's "Motion to Sever."
The cases were tried together before a jury. The jury convicted Appellant of several counts in each case. Most significantly, the jury convicted Appellant of first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. For his first-degree murder conviction, the trial court sentenced Appellant to a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Notably, Appellant was a juvenile when he committed the murder for which he was convicted. Appellant filed post-sentence motions, which the trial court denied. This appeal followed.
Appellant presents the following questions for our consideration:
[1.] Whether the TRIAL COURT erred and/or abused its discretion in failing to grant [Appellant's] judgment of acquittal on the charge of murder in the first degree in that the Commonwealth failed to establish that [Appellant] directly or substantially caused the death of Allen Fernandez?
[2.] Whether the TRIAL COURT erred and/or abused its discretion in failing to grant [Appellant] a new trial because the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence presented to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that [Appellant] directly or substantially caused the death of Allen Fernandez with respect to the offense of murder in the first degree?
[3.] [W]hether the TRIAL COURT erred as a matter of law and/or manifestly abused its discretion in denying the portion of [Appellant's] Omnibus Pretrial motion seeking to sever the MURDER CASE, ROBBERY CASE and SHOOTING CASE for trial?
[4.] Based upon the United States' Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama and this Court's subsequent decision applying same in Commonwealth v. Knox, whether [Appellant's] sentence for all convictions should be vacated and the instant matter be remanded to the TRIAL COURT for re-sentencing?
Appellant's Brief at 5.
We first will address Appellant's claim that the Commonwealth failed to present sufficient evidence to support Appellant's conviction for first-degree murder. Appellant's Brief at 20-32. The following principles of law govern the manner in ...