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[U] Commonwealth v. Anderson

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 26, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
FATIH ANDERSON, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered February 17, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No(s): CP-51-CR-0000555-2009, CP-51-CR-0000583-2009, & CP-51-CR-0006945-2009.

BEFORE: ALLEN, JENKINS, and FITZGERALD [*] , JJ.

MEMORANDUM

ALLEN, J.

Fatih Anderson ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed after he was convicted in a consolidated bench trial of three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of robbery, and related charges.[1] We affirm.

The trial court summarized the pertinent facts as follows:

[Appellant] committed three (3) murders and three (3) robberies within a three (3) block radius in North Philadelphia during the summer of 2007. James McClain was robbed and shot on July 9, 2007, at approximately 1:00 A.M., on the 1500 block of Dauphin Street. He died as the result of three (3) gunshot wounds to the back and chest. Donte Leak was robbed and shot on September 3, 2007, at approximately 3:00 A.M., in an alleyway behind the Stanton Elementary School at 16th and Cumberland Streets. He died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head. Steven Gates was robbed and shot on September 20, 2007, at approximately 12:00 A.M., on the 2500 block of North 17th Street. He died as a result of six (6) gunshot wounds to the chest and back.

Trial Court Opinion, 1/15/13, at 2.

Although each murder was charged in separate indictments, the Commonwealth filed a motion to consolidate them for trial on October 1, 2009. Within this motion, the Commonwealth contended that the cases should be consolidated because: 1) Appellant committed three separate gunpoint robberies and murders; 2) each of the three victims were young black males, ranging in age from twenty to twenty-five years old; 3) all of the crimes were committed within a few blocks of each other, "in a neighborhood where, because of a territorially-based grudge held by [Appellant], he bragged that he would kill as many of its inhabitants as possible"; 4) each of these homicide/robberies were committed between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., and within a three-month period; 5) Appellant disclosed information about each of the crimes to Michael Green, who is a witness in all three cases; 6) in all three cases, Mr. Green's testimony would be corroborated by other witnesses and physical evidence; 7) "the ballistics evidence in each case tends to show that the same gun was used for each homicide"; and 8) "the same homicide detectives are needed on all three cases to explain how the investigation developed, and how [Appellant] came to be arrested on each case based on information from the earlier cases, and such evidence would be presented at all trials." See Commonwealth's Motion to Consolidate, 10/1/09, 7-8.

For all of the above reasons, and the fact that consolidation would "complete the story, " the Commonwealth asserted that consolidation was warranted. Id. at 8. According to the Commonwealth, consolidation was proper "because evidence of each of the homicides and robberies with which [Appellant] is charged would be admissible at separate trials under the motive, intent, identity, and the common plan exceptions." Id.

Following a hearing on November 10, 2009, the Honorable Leon Tucker granted the Commonwealth's motion to consolidate the three cases.[2]Thereafter, Appellant waived his right to a jury trial, and tried before the Honorable Rose Marie Defino-Nastasi. On February 17, 2012, Judge Defino-Nastasi found Appellant guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of robbery, and related charges. That same day, she imposed three concurrent life sentences for Appellant's murder convictions, as well as concurrent terms for the remaining convictions. This appeal followed. Both Appellant and the trial court have complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925. Appellant raises the following issue:

Whether the [trial] court erred in granting the Commonwealth's motion for consolidation of offenses pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 582 and whether the consolidation resulted in a violation of [Appellant's] right to a fair trial under the due process clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions?

Appellant's Brief at 2.[3]

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