Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence August 10, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No.: CP-51-CR-0000434-2009
BEFORE: SHOGAN, J., OTT, J., and PLATT, J. [*]
Appellant, Antoine Young, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered August 10, 2012, following his jury conviction of murder in the second degree and other offenses. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.
The underlying facts and procedural history in this matter are taken from the trial court's opinion of June 11, 2013.
On July 22, 2008 at approximately 6:30p.m., [Appellant] telephoned his friend Milton Henry and asked Mr. Henry to meet him at his mother's house located near the intersection of 12th and Green streets in Philadelphia. Mr. Henry arrived as [Appellant] emerged from a friend's vehicle, and [Appellant] entered Mr. Henry's vehicle, stating that he planned to meet with the decedent, Robert Battle. [Appellant], who was engaged in illegal drug sales, told Mr. Henry that Mr. Battle had recently been involved in an altercation with members of [Appellant]'s family, but despite that, he intended to complete a drug transaction with him. [Appellant] explained that he planned to sell Mr. Battle approximately one (1) pound of marijuana, for a purchase price of $900. Knowing that Mr. Battle would only have $500, [Appellant] planned to await payment of the balance before delivering the marijuana. [Appellant] knew that Mr. Henry routinely travelled with weapons in his car, and almost immediately upon entering the vehicle, asked Mr. Henry for a weapon to take with him when he met with Mr. Battle. Prior to Mr. Battle's arrival, he and [Appellant] spoke briefly on the phone, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Battle arrived on the scene.
When Mr. Battle arrived, [Appellant] left Mr. Henry's vehicle and entered Mr. Battle's vehicle. Mr. Battle and [Appellant] drove to a secluded area, with Mr. Henry following close behind. After Mr. Battle parked, Mr. Henry parked approximately three (3) car lengths behind. [Appellant] and Mr. Battle spoke for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, during which time Mr. Henry briefly telephoned [Appellant] to ensure that everything was okay. After ensuring that everything was okay, Mr. Henry ended the call, and [Appellant] continued his conversation with Mr. Battle. Shortly thereafter, [Appellant] got out of Mr. Battle's car and started toward Mr. Henry's car. [Appellant] then turned back toward Mr. Battle's car, walked to the open passenger side window, and fired two (2) shots into Mr. Battle's body. Seeing this, Mr. Henry switched his car into drive, and pulled closer to Mr. Battle's car, allowing [Appellant] to get in. The two fled the scene, and went to a Getty gas station nearby on Broad Street, where [Appellant] paid for the gasoline. Mr. Henry directed [Appellant] to put the gun back in the bag from where he retrieved it, and asked [Appellant] why he shot Mr. Battle. Without further explanation, [Appellant] merely stated his reason for shooting at Mr. Battle "was personal, " and requested that Mr. Henry take him home. Mr. Henry abided, and took [Appellant] to his home near the area of 26th and Lehigh Avenues in Philadelphia.
At approximately 7:30p.m., Mr. Battle's body was discovered on the 1300 block of Green Street in Philadelphia by [a] passersby on the street. Alvin Littlejohn called the 911 [sic] after being told that there was a man in a car with what appeared to be a bruise on his head. Crime scene officers were dispatched at 8:00p.m., and arrived on the scene around 8:40p.m. Officers discovered Mr. Battle, seated in his car, suffering from a bullet wound to his head and his hand. As the area was considerably secluded, officers were unable to locate any witnesses who had seen or heard anything. Officer[s] searched the vehicle for ballistics evidence, DNA, and fingerprints, and also recovered the victim's cell phone. Officers were able to recover a bullet and a bullet jacket fired from a Smith and Wesson revolver, DNA samples from a spoon and a yogurt cup in the front of the vehicle, and four partial fingerprints. Although officers were able to match the ballistics evidence to the murder weapon, they were unable to match any DNA to [Appellant]. Of the fingerprints that were found, only one was usable and it belonged to the victim. Although Mr. Battle normally wore jewelry, [and] carried a wallet and cash, only his keys and $0.21 were found with his body.
On July 24, 2008, Mr. Henry was arrested after being stopped for a traffic violation when officers discovered two (2) weapons in the trunk of his car. After ballistics evidence matched the gun found in Mr. Henry's truck with the gun used to kill Mr. Battle, homicide detectives approached Mr. Henry, and he gave a statement implicating [Appellant] in this shooting. On August 6, 2008, detectives executed a search warrant for Mr. Battle's cell phone records. From those records, police determined that the last calls made prior to Mr. Battle's death included a phone call to a cellular phone owned by Macy Kee, [Appellant]'s purported wife. On August 25, 2008, detectives visited the home of Macy Kee. When they arrived, she was at home with an adult male, ultimately determined to be [Appellant], and her five children. Unable to speak with detectives at that time, Ms. Kee went down to the homicide unit and gave a statement the next day. In that statement, Ms. Kee told detectives that after the officers left her home the day before, she and [Appellant] argued about the cell phone because [Appellant] wanted to get rid of it, and he subsequently broke it.
[Appellant] gave two (2) statement[s] in this case, both implicating Mr. Henry as the shooter. The first was on September 5, 2008. In that statement, [Appellant] said that at the time of the shooting he had been at home. He said that he'd briefly spoken to Mr. Battle before giving the phone to Mr. Henry and allowing Mr. Henry to borrow his phone for a few hours. He said that Mr. Henry returned the phone but it wasn't until hours later that he learned that Mr. Battle had been killed. Finally [Appellant] said that he telephoned Mr. Henry who then told [Appellant] that he had in fact shot Mr. Battle.
[Appellant] gave a second statement to homicide detectives on September 13, 2008, after being read his Miranda rights. In that statement, [Appellant] said that he lied in his earlier statement, and, in fact, he had been present at the scene. However, he again implicated Mr. Henry, stating that he was merely present as Mr. Henry decided to rob Mr. Battle, before stealing his money, and shooting him twice. [Appellant] went on to say that later he was told that Mr. Battle had been killed and that it was Mr. Henry who telephoned him to ask if he'd watched the news that evening.
Using Ms. Kee's and Mr. Battle's cell phone records, officers were able to chart the general physical location of the phone calls that were made between the two phones. Using the signal towers throughout the city, officers were able to explain to the jury [Appellant]'s location during the times just before, during, and just after Mr. Battle's murder. The records showed that the [Appellant] was "dead in the heart" of the crime scene at the time that Mr. Battle was murdered, and that in the minutes following the murder he gradually made his way back to his home. Finally, the cell phone record analysis also showed that there were no phone calls between Mr. Henry and Mr. Battle. Based on their investigation, [Appellant] was taken into custody.
(Trial Court Opinion, 6/11/13, at 2-5) (record citations omitted).
Following an August 2012 trial, the jury convicted Appellant of murder in the second degree, robbery, criminal conspiracy, and possessing instruments of crime (PIC). On August 10, 2012, the trial court sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment in a state correctional facility without the possibility of parole on the conviction for murder in the second degree, to be followed by a consecutive sentence of not less than twelve and one-half nor more than twenty-five years on the remaining charges.
On August 20, 2012, Appellant filed a post-sentence motion. The trial court denied that motion by operation of law on December 19, 2012. The instant, timely appeal followed. On January 16, 2013, the trial court ordered Appellant to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). On February 11, 2013, Appellant filed a petition asking that the court accept a late-filed Rule 1925(b) statement. (See Petition to Accept 1925(b) Statement as Timely Filed, 2/11/13, at 1). The trial court did not take any action on the petition. On February 27, 2013, Appellant filed ...