Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered December 7, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No(s): CP-51-CR-0014477-2010
BEFORE: ALLEN, STABILE, and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.
Jewell Mann ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed after a jury convicted him of third-degree murder. Appellant presents two issues for our review:
I. Is [Appellant] entitled to an arrest of judgment on the charge of Murder in the Third Degree where the Commonwealth did not establish the element of malice which is necessary for any degree of murder?
II. Is [Appellant] entitled to a new trial where the verdict on the charge of Murder in the Third Degree is not supported by the greater weight of the evidence as the greater weight did not support the proposition that the Commonwealth had proved malice?
Appellant's Brief at 3.
The trial court summarized the factual background as follows:
These charges arose out of an August 14, 2009 incident in which [A]ppellant got into an argument and physical altercation with the decedent, Luther Hawkins ("Hawkins"), on the 2300 block of Bambrey Terrace in Philadelphia. At approximately 10:00 A.M. on August 14, 2009, Appellant's partner, Shannon Fitzpatrick ("Fitzpatrick"), and the decedent's wife, Shantelle Willis ("Willis"), engaged in a fistfight after an argument arose over Willis' attempt to provide Probation Officers Deborah Stott and Alethea Smith Champagnid with basic information about Fitzpatrick. This fight was broken up by neighbors and Fitzpatrick and Willis parted ways. Willis was able to flag down Philadelphia Police Officer Donna Manigo and her partner Officer Barrett. Willis explained the situation and as the officers took down her information, the Housing Manager arrived and stated that she would arrange mediation between Willis and Fitzpatrick.
Later that same day, at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon, Fitzpatrick's daughter, E.G., got into an altercation with Willis and began fighting. Fitzpatrick, Hawkins, and Appellant joined in the fight, with Fitzpatrick hitting both Willis and Hawkins with a bat. During the fight, Appellant pulled out his gun and shot Hawkins in the chest and back. After shooting Hawkins, Appellant fled, discarded the gun he used to kill Hawkins in the Delaware River, and hid from police for fourteen (14) months in Delaware before turning himself in on October 31, 2010.
Trial Court Opinion, 6/14/13, at 3-4.
In his first issue, Appellant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his third-degree murder conviction. Appellant specifically asserts that "the Commonwealth has not established the element of malice in that the Commonwealth did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Appellant] failed to act in self-defense." Appellant's Brief at 9. Appellant cites Commonwealth v. Cain, 398 A.2d 1359 (Pa. 1979) (discussing voluntary manslaughter as lacking malice), and continues, "where…the victim is in [Appellant's] house and continuing the fray, it is clearly legally impossible to ...