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[U] Commonwealth v. Butz

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 27, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JOHN WAYNE BUTZ, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence March 15, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County Criminal Division No(s).: CP-40-CR-0002488-2011

BEFORE: MUNDY, WECHT, and FITZGERALD, [*] JJ.

MEMORANDUM

FITZGERALD, J.

Appellant, John Wayne Butz, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. He alleges the trial court erred by excluding certain evidence under the Rape Shield Law.[1] We affirm.

The trial court summarized the procedural posture of this case as follows:

A jury trial commenced on October 22, 2012, and the jury returned their verdict on October 24, 2012, when
[Appellant] was found guilty [of Rape of a Child, [2]Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (person less than sixteen years old), [3] Statutory Sexual Assault, [4] Aggravated Indecent Assault (complainant less than sixteen years old), [5] Indecent Assault (complainant less than thirteen years old), [6] and Corruption of Minors.[7] A presentence investigation (PSI) was Ordered . . . .
On March 15, 2013, [Appellant] appeared before this Court for imposition of sentence. . . . We thereafter sentenced [Appellant] to an aggregate prison term of twenty two (22) to forty four (44) years' incarceration to be served in a state correctional institution and deemed [Appellant] to be a sexually violent predator.

Trial Ct. Op., 7/18/13, at 1-2 (unpaginated) (citation omitted). This timely appeal followed. Appellant filed a court-ordered Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement of errors complained of on appeal and the trial court filed a responsive opinion.

Appellant raises the following issue for our review: "Whether the trial court erred by excluding under the Rape Shield Law[8] evidence that the Complainant's father had sexually assaulted her where evidence of prior sexual assaults is not protected by the Rape Shield Law and the evidence was relevant and material?" Appellant's Brief at 1. Appellant contends this evidence "is relevant to establish an alternate identity of her abuser and to demonstrate a motive to fabricate." Id. at 6. Appellant avers the trial court erred in excluding this evidence based upon Commonwealth v. Gaddis, 639 A.2d 462 (Pa.Super. 1994), [9] given the holding of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Johnson, 638 A.2d 940 (Pa. 1994). Id. He contends that eight witnesses would have testified that Complainant reported her father was abusing her during the same time period that the abuse by Appellant was alleged to have taken place. Id. at 7.

We state the relevant standard of review: "The admissibility of evidence is a matter solely within the discretion of the trial court." Johnson, 638 A.2d at 942. In Johnson, the Supreme Court held:

Even though the Rape Shield Law did not bar [testimony that a victim had been subject to a previous sexual assault], that testimony does not automatically become admissible. The question then becomes whether the testimony is relevant and material under the traditional rules of evidence.

Id. [10] The Supreme Court found the evidence that the alleged victim told a third party that she was the victim of a prior sexual assault was inadmissible hearsay neither carrying any indicia of reliability nor having any bearing "upon a matter in issue in [the] case." Id. at ...


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