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[U] Commonwealth v. Gutierrez

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 19, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence April 16, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of York County Criminal Division at No. CP-67-CR-0002280-2011.




Appellant, Eddie Gutierrez, appeals from the judgment of ssentence entered on April 16, 2012 after his jury conviction of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon, simple assault, and reckless endangerment.[1]We affirm.

We take the following facts from our review of the trial notes of testimony in this matter. On February 18, 2011, after having lunch together at a local soup kitchen, the victim, Felito Rosario-Morales, and Appellant returned to their respective rooms at the Hanover Motel, where Rosario-Morales lived on the second floor and Appellant resided on the third. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 72, 88; N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 181-82). Rosario-Morales was scheduled to work one-half hour later at the National Pretzel factory in his job as a forklift operator, and he had a pocketknife in his jeans, which he used for opening boxes. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 75-77; N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 140-42). Rosario-Morales telephoned Appellant regarding loans between them, although each man argued that the other owed him money. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 83-84; N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 271). During a later phone call, Appellant invited Rosario-Morales to come upstairs. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 88). Thereafter, Appellant retrieved a kitchen knife, which he concealed behind his back while he waited in the hallway for Rosario-Morales' arrival. (See N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 289, 316). On the victim's arrival, the two men engaged in a verbal altercation. (See id. at 154, 315). Detective Craig Culp testified that Appellant told him that Rosario-Morales did not appear to be armed. (See N.T. Trial, 2/09/12, at 344).

Video surveillance and Rosario-Morales' testimony showed that Appellant stabbed Rosario-Morales as he was turning away. (See N.T Trial, 2/06/12, at 92-93; N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 316). Hanover Motel resident Jerome Small observed Appellant, still armed with the knife, chase an unarmed Rosario-Morales down the hall as he attempted to flee. (See N.T. Trial, at 2/07/12, at 155, 158). When Rosario-Morales collapsed, he and Appellant continued to exchange words until Appellant left the building. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 92-93). Upon their arrival, the police observed Rosario-Morales in what appeared to be extreme pain, with a stab wound and a brown, flesh-colored organ hanging out of his wound about three inches. (See N.T. Trial, 2/07/12, at 214-15).

Paramedics transported Rosario-Morales to York Hospital, where he received immediate surgery for a tear in the outer layer of his colon, a large hematoma in the upper right side of the abdomen, a damaged duodenum, two stab wounds to the small intestine, and three stab wounds to the mesoderm. (See id. at 167-72). Rosario-Morales remained in the hospital for eighteen days following surgery. (See N.T. Trial, 2/06/12, at 99).

On February 13, 2012, a jury convicted Appellant of the above-mentioned crimes.[2] On April 16, 2012, the trial court sentenced Appellant to no less than nine nor more than eighteen years' incarceration in a state correctional institution. The court denied Appellant's post-sentence motion and motion for reconsideration of sentence on September 25, 2012. Appellant timely appealed.[3]

Appellant raises three questions for our review:

I. Whether the evidence submitted at trial was insufficient to support the verdict of guilty when the Commonwealth failed to prove Appellant's actions were not justifiable self-defense[?]
II. Whether the verdict was against the weight of the evidence submitted at trial and failed to rise to the level of proof required to support a conviction of aggravated assault when the evidence presented at trial established [the] victim came to Appellant's home armed with a knife and threatening Appellant with physical harm[?]
III. Whether the sentence of nine to eighteen years imposed by [the trial] court constitutes an abuse of discretion when the sentence imposed is inconsistent with the gravity of the offense and protection of the ...

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