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[U] Commonwealth v. James

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 14, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
KYLE JAMES, Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANI Appellee
v.
KYLE JAMES, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 14, 2012, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Criminal Division at Nos. CP-51-CR-0007249-2011, CP-51-CR-0007292-2011

BEFORE: DONOHUE, MUNDY and OLSON, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

DONOHUE, J.

Kyle James ("James") appeals from the judgment of sentence entered on May 14, 2012 by the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, following his convictions of possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a firearm on the public streets in Philadelphia, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and receiving stolen property.[1] Specifically, James challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. Upon review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

On [] June 6th, 2011, Philadelphia Police Officer Mark Davis and his partner, Officer O'Connor, were patrolling in a marked squad car near 18th Street and Reed Street, the area of a recent homicide. Their patrol included the 1300 block of South Colorado Street, which is approximately a block away from 18th and Reed and is known as an area of high frequency of guns and narcotic sales. At
approximately 8:17 p.m., the officers saw [James] standing with two other males on the corner of Reed and South Colorado streets, huddled together. Officer Davis observed [James] showing the other two males something. As they approached to approximately 15 to 20 feet from [James], he made eye contact with Officer Davis and stepped away from the group, placing a black object consistent with a firearm in the front of his waistband and briskly walking north on South Colorado Street. Officer Davis testified that in the five years prior to the night in question, he had conducted 60 to 75 gun arrests in the area, and that the vast majority of those arrests involved guns tucked into waistbands in the manner that [James] tucked the black object into his waistband.
Officer Davis continued in the patrol vehicle while his partner, Officer O'Connor, stepped out of the vehicle to approach [James] and ordered [James] to stop. When [James] saw Officer O'Connor step out of the patrol vehicle, he began running, heading northbound on South Colorado Street, Officer O'Connor gave chase while Officer Davis circled around in the patrol car, eventually cutting [James] off around the block. Officer Davis saw [James] running with the gun in his hand, and then saw him throw it into an empty lot at 1311 Bouvier Street. Officer Davis took [James] into custody and recovered the gun, a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun loaded with thirteen rounds of live ammunition.

Trial Court Opinion, 6/25/12, at 2-3 (record citations omitted).

On September 14, 2011, James filed a motion to suppress the gun, asserting that he was unlawfully seized by the police without probable cause and/or reasonable suspicion in violation of the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions.[2] The trial court held a hearing on the motion on May 14, 2012, at which Officer Davis provided the testimony recited above.

At the conclusion of the officer's testimony and after arguments by both parties, the trial court denied the motion. Thereafter, the trial court held a stipulated bench trial, at which the Commonwealth presented James' statement to police that he purchased the firearm in question on the street for $400 a few days prior to his arrest; a report indicating that the firearm was tested and determined to be operable; and a certificate of non-licensure. The trial court convicted James of the above-listed crimes and sentenced him to an aggregate term of 54 to 132 months of incarceration.

James filed a timely notice of appeal, and presents one issue for our review: "Did the lower court err when it denied the defense motion to suppress physical evidence, as Philadelphia Police Officers Davis and O'Connor had neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to ...


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