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[U] Commonwealth v. Williams

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 4, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
DAMONTAE ANTHONY WILLIAMS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered June 3, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, Criminal Division, at No(s): CP-04-CR-0001398-2012

BEFORE: BOWES, ALLEN, and MUSMANNO, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

ALLEN, J.

Damontae Anthony Williams ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed after a jury convicted him of criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide, aggravated assault (two counts), assault of a law enforcement officer, robbery, receiving stolen property, person not to possess a firearm, firearms not to be carried without a license, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person (two counts), possession with intent to deliver (cocaine) while also in possession of a firearm, and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). Upon review, we affirm on the trial court opinion.

On appeal, Appellant presents four sufficiency issues:
1. Whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant formed the specific intent to kill to establish criminal attemt (sic) to commit criminal homicide?
2. Whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant formed the intent to cause serious bodily injury to establish aggravated assault, attempting to cause serious bodily injury?
3. Whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to establish aggravated assault, attempting to cause bodily injury or causing bodily injury to a police officer?
4. Whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to establish assault of a law enforcement officer?

Appellant's Brief at 6.

The trial court summarized the facts as follows:
On July 25, 2012, at approximately 5:00 P.M., [Appellant] was transported in a silver Plymouth Neon automobile by Odell Littles (Littles), the boyfriend of the [Appellant]'s aunt, Pam Spencer, to the Cricket Wireless Store located in the Walmart Plaza Shopping Center on Route 18 in Center Township, Beaver County, for the intended purpose of making payment of [Appellant]'s telephone bill. Upon arrival, [Appellant] exited the vehicle while Littles remained in the car. [Appellant] entered the Cricket Wireless Store and conversed with the salesperson, Daniel Clear (Clear), regarding accessories for his cellular telephone. After choosing the desired accessories and preparing to pay for the items at the cash register, [Appellant] displayed a black semi-automatic handgun pointed within six to twelve inches of Clear's chest and demanded money from the cash register. Clear complied by placing what was later determined to be $1, 163.00 into a green plastic bag, together with the merchandise that [Appellant] had chosen. [Appellant] then departed the store. Clear, while dialing 9-1-1, observed [Appellant] walking in the parking lot and entering the passenger side of the silver Neon vehicle. Clear described [Appellant] to the 9-1-1 operator as a black male wearing a white shirt and shorts and a New York Yankees baseball cap. He further advised that the vehicle exited the plaza and proceeded on Route 18 toward the adjoining municipality of the Borough of Monaca. After entering the vehicle, much to the surprise of Littles, [Appellant] informed Littles that he had robbed the store. Upon learning of [Appellant]'s actions, Littles drove the vehicle into Monaca Borough, proceeding on Pennsylvania Avenue, the main thoroughfare. Officer Alan Shaffer of the Monaca Police Department, who was at the Monaca Borough Police Station located in the 900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, overheard the radio dispatch of the robbery, including the description of the suspect and the vehicle and the vehicle's direction of travel. Officer Shaffer entered his police vehicle and pulled out of the station parking lot on to Pennsylvania Avenue heading in the direction of the Center Township Walmart Plaza for the purpose of rendering assistance, when he observed the silver Neon approaching on Pennsylvania Avenue from the opposite direction. He entered a parking lot, reversed his direction, activated his emergency lights and began pursuit of the Neon automobile. Littles observed Officer Shaffer's police vehicle and informed [Appellant] that the police were following behind their car. Upon reaching the traffic signal at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, the Neon vehicle stopped for the red traffic signal. [Appellant] exited the front passenger side door and ran into the parking lot of CoGo's Convenience Store located at the intersection. Officer Shaffer, while still in his vehicle, followed [Appellant] into the parking lot and inadvertently struck [Appellant] with the police vehicle in the leg, causing him to fall. [Appellant] immediately got up and continued to run from Officer Shaffer, who was in full uniform and in a marked police vehicle. Officer Shaffer pursued [Appellant] on foot into the alley behind CoGo's, when [Appellant] turned, removed from his waist a handgun and fired three shots at Officer Shaffer, striking him with the first shot in the inner thigh of his right leg. Officer Shaffer drew his weapon and returned fire as [Appellant] hid behind several vehicles parked in the alley. As Officer Shaffer continued his approach toward the vehicles, [Appellant] threw out his weapon, laid face down on the ground and surrendered. Officer Rachel Dietz, the on-duty partner of Officer Shaffer, took [Appellant] into custody and handcuffed him while Officer Shaffer continued to have his weapon drawn toward [Appellant]. Officer Dietz inquired of [Appellant] as to whether he possessed any other weapons and [Appellant] replied that a loaded weapon was located in his right shorts pocket. [Appellant] further stated that if his hands were free, he would shoot the officers in the face. Upon arrival of other officers, the weapon in [Appellant's] pocket was removed together with a cigarette pack in which a baggie, containing 40 packages of cocaine weighing 4.4 grams, was found. The weapon with which [Appellant] fired upon Officer Shaffer was determined to be a .40 caliber semiautomatic weapon that had been stolen on July 12, 2012. The firearm located in his pocket was a .32 caliber fully-loaded revolver. [Appellant] was not licensed to carry a firearm. Officer Shaffer was treated for a graze wound to his right thigh and released after treatment in the emergency room.

Trial Court Opinion, 9/11/13, at 5-8.

Although Appellant raises four separate sufficiency issues as to his convictions (attempt to commit criminal homicide, aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a police officer, and assault of a law enforcement officer), the essence of Appellant's arguments is that "the circumstances do not support the mental state of an intentional or knowing act against Officer Shaffer." Appellant's Brief at 11-15.

Our standard of review in challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence is well-settled:

The standard we apply in reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence is whether viewing all the evidence admitted at trial in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, there is sufficient evidence to enable the fact-finder to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In applying [the above] test, we may not weigh the evidence and substitute our judgment for the fact-finder. In addition, we note that the facts and circumstances established by the Commonwealth need not preclude every possibility of innocence. Any doubts regarding a defendant's guilt may be resolved by the fact-finder unless the evidence is so weak and inconclusive that as a matter of law no probability of fact may be drawn from the combined circumstances. The Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence. Moreover, in applying the above test, the entire record must be evaluated and all evidence actually received must be considered. Finally, the [finder] of fact while passing upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight of the evidence produced, is free to believe all, part or none of the evidence.

Commonwealth v. Jones, 874 A.2d 108, 120 (Pa.Super. 2005).

We have reviewed the record in this case and conclude that the jury, as fact-finder, had sufficient evidence on which to base Appellant's convictions of conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a police officer, and assault of a law enforcement officer. There is sufficient evidence of record that Appellant possessed the intent necessary to sustain these convictions. In conducting our review, we find that the Honorable John P. Dohanich, sitting as the trial court, has ably addressed and analyzed Appellant's sufficiency arguments in his Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion. We therefore adopt and incorporate Judge Dohanich's September 11, 2013 opinion as our own, and attach a copy in the event of further proceedings.

Judgment of sentence affirmed. Judgment Entered.


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