Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

[U] Commonwealth v. Watkins

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 21, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 7, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-36-CR-0004458-2012




Appellant, Lewis Watkins, appeals from the May 7, 2013 aggregate judgment of sentence of three months' probation imposed after the trial court found Appellant guilty of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness as summary offenses.[1] After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the relevant facts and procedural history of this case as follows.

At trial, the evidence presented by the Commonwealth revealed that in July of 2012 [Appellant] lived on the third floor of an apartment building located at 419 West Orange Street, Lancaster. The building was owned by Carlos and Irma Miranda, who also occupied the first floor unit. On July 13, 2012, at approximately 12:45 a.m., Ms. Miranda contacted the police and reported that [Appellant] was on the front porch of the apartment building talking loudly on the phone and "telling somebody that he was going to kill [the Mirandas], that he had a gun and he didn't care who he was going to kill."
In response to Ms. Miranda's call, Officer Jessica Higgins of the Lancaster City Police Department was dispatched to the apartment building. Officer Higgins reported that, as she was arriving on the scene, she was able to hear [Appellant] yelling from approximately half a block away. When she encountered [Appellant], Officer Higgins testified that he was standing on the front porch of the apartment building and yelling "f[**]k this, the police – what the f[**]k are the police going to do? This is f[**]king bull s[**]t." Officer Higgins patted [Appellant] down for weapons, but did not locate any on his person. While she was performing the search, Officer Higgins detected a very strong odor of alcohol on [Appellant]'s person and noted that he had an obvious balance deficiency and slurred speech. Based on these observations and her experiences as a police officer, Officer Higgins determined that [Appellant] was intoxicated. During her interaction with [Appellant], Officer Higgins testified that he was angry and belligerent, and that he was behaving in a way that "indicat[ed] that he had no regard for anybody in the immediate area." Accordingly, Officer Higgins placed [Appellant] under arrest.

Trial Court Opinion, 8/15/13, at 2-3 (internal citations omitted).

On October 31, 2012, the Commonwealth filed an information charging Appellant with one count each of terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. Appellant proceeded to a jury trial on May 7, 2013. At the close of the Commonwealth's case, the trial court granted Appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal on the charge of terroristic threats. As to the remaining two charges, at the conclusion of the trial, the trial court found Appellant guilty of both counts. That same day, the trial court imposed a sentence of three months' probation on each count, to run concurrently. On June 6, 2013, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal.[2]

On appeal, Appellant raises one issue for our review.

I. Was the evidence presented by the Commonwealth insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Appellant] was guilty of public drunkenness when he was not in a public place?

Appellant's Brief at 4.

We begin by noting our well-settled standard of review. When reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, our standard of review is well settled. We must "review the evidence admitted during the trial along with any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth." Commonwealth v. Crawford, 24 A.3d 396, 404 (Pa. Super. 2011) (citation omitted). "Any doubts concerning an appellant's guilt [are] to be resolved by the trier of fact unless the evidence was so weak and inconclusive that no probability of fact could be drawn therefrom." Commonwealth v. West, 937 A.2d 516, 523 (Pa. Super. 2007), appeal denied, 947 A.2d 737 (Pa. 2008). Moreover, "[t]he Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence." Commonwealth v. Perez, 931 A.2d 703, 707 (Pa. Super. 2007) (citations omitted). "[T]he trier of fact, in passing upon the credibility of the witnesses, is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence." Commonwealth v. Rivera, 983 A.2d 1211, 1220 (Pa. 2009) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, Rivera v. Pennsylvania, 560 U.S. 909 (2010).

Prior to addressing the merits of Appellant's claim, we must first determine whether Appellant has complied with Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(b) to preserve this issue for our review. Rule 1925(b) by its text requires that Rule 1925(b) statements "identify each ruling or error that the appellant intends to challenge with sufficient detail to identify all pertinent issues for the judge." Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b)(4)(ii); see also Commonwealth v. Reeves, 907 A.2d 1, 2 (Pa. Super. 2006) (stating "[w]hen a court has to guess what issues an appellant is appealing, that is not enough for meaningful review[]"), appeal denied, 919 A.2d 956 (Pa. 2007). Any issues not raised in accordance with Rule 1925(b)(4) will be deemed waived. Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b)(4)(vii). Our Supreme Court has made clear that Rule 1925(b) is a bright-line rule. Commonwealth v. Hill, 16 A.3d 484, 494 (Pa. 2011). Additionally, with regard to claims pertaining to the sufficiency of the Commonwealth's evidence, we have stated as follows.

In order to preserve a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, an appellant's Rule 1925(b) statement must state with specificity the element or elements upon which the appellant alleges that the evidence was insufficient. Such specificity is of particular importance in cases where, as here, the appellant was convicted of multiple crimes each of which contains numerous elements that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Commonwealth v. Garland, 63 A.3d 339, 344 (Pa. Super. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted; emphasis added).

In the case sub judice, on June 28, 2013, Appellant timely filed his Rule 1925(b) statement which only stated that "[t]he evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Appellant] was guilty of public drunkenness." Appellant's Rule 1925(b) Statement, 6/28/13, at 1. Based on our cases, we are constrained to conclude that Appellant has not complied with Rule 1925(b) because his statement fails to specify which elements of which offenses the Commonwealth did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt. See Garland, supra (concluding that Garland's bald Rule 1925(b) statement that "[t]he evidence was legally insufficient to support the convictions[]" was non- compliant with Rule 1925(b)); Commonwealth v. Williams, 959 A.2d 1252, 1256 (Pa. Super. 2008) (concluding that Williams' bald Rule 1925(b) statement that "[t]here was insufficient evidence to sustain the charges of Murder, Robbery, VUFA no license, and VUFA on the streets … [t]hus [Appellant] was denied due process of law[]" was non-compliant with Rule 1925(b)). Therefore, we cannot reach the merits of Appellant's claim.[3]

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that Appellant's only issue on appeal is waived for failure to comply with Rule 1925(b). Accordingly, the trial court's May 7, 2013 judgment of sentence is affirmed.

Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Judge Olson Concurs in the Result.

Judgment Entered.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.