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Commonwealth v. Christine

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 30, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JACOB MATTHEW CHRISTINE, Appellant

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence November 24, 2010 In the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-48-CR-0003344-2009

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., [*] FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BOWES, J., GANTMAN, J., PANELLA, J., SHOGAN, J., LAZARUS, J., MUNDY, J., and OTT, J.

PER CURIAM ORDER

The Court, being evenly divided, the Order of the Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.

OPINION IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMANCE

MUNDY, J.

Appellant, Jacob Matthew Christine, appeals from the November 24, 2010 aggregate judgment of sentence of nine to 20 years' imprisonment imposed after a jury found him guilty of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person (REAP).[1] After careful review, we would affirm.

The trial court summarized the underlying facts of this case as follows.

The convictions resulted from an incident that occurred in Northhampton County Prison (NCP) on June 8, 2009. On that date, [Appellant] and the victim, Thomas Missero, were inmates in NCP when a confrontation between the two men occurred in [Appellant]'s cell in Unit B-2. The cell housed 8 inmates in four rows of bunk beds. While in [Appellant]'s cell, [Appellant] was alleged to have slashed Mr. Missero's neck and ear with a razor blade. Immediately after the attack, corrections officers searched [Appellant]'s cell. Only one weapon, a shank, was found in the cell. It was hidden within [Appellant]'s bed.
Interestingly, [Appellant] testified at trial that the victim came into his cell armed with a razor blade and attacked [Appellant]. [Appellant] claimed that he successfully disarmed the victim, picked up the razor from the floor and then unintentionally sliced the victim when the victim continued to threaten [Appellant]. Even though [Appellant] was the last person to have control of the weapon, it has never been located. [The trial court] also note[d] that there were no injuries suffered by [Appellant].

Trial Court Opinion, 4/26/11, at 1-2.

On July 14, 2009, the Commonwealth charged Appellant with attempted criminal homicide[2], aggravated assault and REAP. Appellant proceeded to a three-day jury trial. On October 7, 2010, the jury found Appellant guilty of aggravated assault and REAP, but found him not guilty of attempted criminal homicide. On November 24, 2010, the trial court imposed an aggregate sentence of nine to 20 years' imprisonment.[3] On December 6, 2010, Appellant filed a timely post-sentence motion.[4] Appellant's post-sentence motion was denied on April 26, 2011. On May 5, 2011, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal.[5]

On April 24, 2012, a divided panel of this Court vacated Appellant's judgment of sentence and remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in not permitting Appellant to introduce evidence of Missero's subsequent criminal convictions. On May 21, 2012, the Commonwealth filed a petition for reargument en banc. This Court granted the Commonwealth's petition on July 10, 2012, and the previous panel memorandum was withdrawn.

In his substituted brief on reargument, Appellant raises three issues for our review.

1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it refused to allow Appellant to present testimony at trial regarding a criminal assault in ...

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