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[U] Commonwealth v. Styers

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 14, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
MICHAEL CLAIR STYERS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 24, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-17-CR-0000889-2008

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., LAZARUS, J., and MUNDY, J.

MEMORANDUM

BENDER, P.J.E.

Appellant, Michael Clair Styers, appeals from the judgment of sentence of an aggregate term of 22 – 44 years' incarceration and fines totaling $90, 000, imposed following his conviction for numerous drug-related offenses. Appellant claims the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his convictions. After careful review, we vacate Appellant's sentence and remand for resentencing, but otherwise leave Appellant's conviction undisturbed.

The trial court summarized the facts pertaining to Appellant's drug-related convictions as follows:

During the course of an eight (8) day trial, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of over twenty (20) witnesses who were connected with or participated in the cocaine distribution ring alleged in this case. Of those, at least ten (10) witnesses provided testimony directly regarding [Appellant] and/or his involvement in selling or trading heroin, OxyContin, and/or fentanyl, and even more witnesses testifying to his involvement with cocaine. For example, Jacob Pittman testified that he bought 'pills' from [Appellant] for personal use, those pills being "Oxycontin, Dilaudid, methadose [sic] pills, whatever, anything with an opiate base." Mr. Pittman also testified that [Appellant], at times, would have a lot of pills – kept in a pill bottle on his person.
Darla L. Daub also testified that she bought fentanyl patches and OxyContin from [Appellant]. She stated that she also witnessed Joey Hunter get fentanyl patches from [Appellant], and that the patches were the kind with gel. Ms. Daub further testified that she bought OxyContin in 10, 40, and 80 milligrams for about $50.00 or $60.00 per pill from [Appellant]. She also testified to seeing [Appellant] carry pills in a white pill bottle, and that she bought morphine sulfates from [Appellant] on a couple of occasions.
Brandon J. ("BJ") Kifer testified that [Appellant] traded pills with his mother, Cindy Kifer, for cocaine. He went on to explain that his mother traded 90-milligram OxyContin pills with [Appellant] for cocaine.
Joseph Michael Hunter testified that he had back surgery in 2005 and was prescribed OxyContin and Percocets for pain. After first dealing with Michael Gearhart, Mr. Hunter started to sell/trade OxyContin pills to [Appellant] for cocaine. He testified to selling [Appellant] two (2) OxyContin pills for one (1) gram of cocaine, with the transaction taking place in [Appellant]'s garage. Further, Mr. Hunter also testified that [Appellant] brought back heroin from one of his trips to Philadelphia. He testified that he had seen heroin before at [Appellant]'s home, and that [Appellant] had brought five (5) bundles with ten (10) stamp bags in each bundle back from Philadelphia.
Renee Krumenacker, a then friend of Autumn Kifer, testified that she was using cocaine with Autumn, BJ Kifer, and Cindy Kifer back in 2005. During this time, she testified that she spent approximately $25, 000.00 total on cocaine, which she bought from [Appellant]. During the course of her association with the Kifers and [Appellant], Ms. Krumenacker also testified that she witnessed Cindy Kifer trade prescription pills for cocaine with [Appellant] on fifty or more occasions.
Jane Gearhart testified that in 2006 she accompanied her son, now deceased, and Jacob Pittman to [Appellant]'s residence in order to purchase cocaine and OxyContin. She testified that a typical trip would include purchasing two (2) OxyContin 80 milligram pills and one (1) to two (2) grams of cocaine from [Appellant]. She approximated that the group made similar trips about five or six times in 2006, and that the OxyContin would run at $80.00 per pill.
Also testifying for the Commonwealth was Richard William Smeal. Mr. Smeal testified that he broke his back in a 2005 work related accident and was prescribed pain pills. Instead of using his prescribed medication, he used cocaine and purchased it regularly from [Appellant]. Mr. Smeal further testified that he saw [Appellant] dealing in opiates, mainly OxyContin, and would trade them for cocaine and then resell them. He also testified that [Appellant] would get Fentanyl patches for his customers as well, preferring the patches containing the gel. Additionally, he saw [Appellant] with heroin or heroin at [Appellant]'s residence, and saw people purchase it occasionally.

TCO, at 8 – 10.

On September 25, 2008, a grand jury recommended that criminal charges be filed against 14 individuals, including Appellant, for their involvement in the cocaine distribution ring centered in Clearfield County. The Office of the Attorney General filed a criminal complaint against Appellant on October 31, 2008, charging him with "various counts of possession with intent to deliver, delivery of a controlled substance, persons not to possess or transfer firearms, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, criminal use of a communication facility, burglary, criminal trespass, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, criminal attempt, and corrupt organizations." Trial Court Opinion (TCO), 5/28/13, at 1 – 2. On January 23, 2013, an eight day trial began, wherein Appellant was tried jointly alongside codefendants Maharaji ...


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