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[U] Commonwealth v. Johnson

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 28, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence February 16, 2010 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-02-CR-0017946-2008




Appellant, Ronnie Lee Johnson, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered February 16, 2010, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the relevant facts as follows.

In late July 2007, Anthony Girimonti purchased an SKS assault rifle from Matt Work. Matthew Gardner drove his girlfriend, Lana Blue, and Girimonti to Work's home on the day the purchase took place. On August 1, 2007, Girimonti suggested to Gardner that they rob Sean Diaz (Girimonti's drug dealer) of his marijuana. Concerned that Diaz might have another person with him during the exchange, they wanted a third person to assist with the robbery. Gardner and Blue suggested [Appellant] Girimonti. Earlier in 2007 Gardner and Blue had lived with [Appellant]'s girlfriend, Kelly Peters, and were thus familiar with [Appellant]. [Appellant] was approached and agreed to participate; Gardner, Girimonti, and [Appellant] planned to share the marijuana from the robbery.
At approximately 1:00 P.M. on August 2, 2007, Girimonti called Diaz and, through subsequent phone calls that day, arranged to purchase one half pound of marijuana from Diaz for $800. They agreed to meet at the Elm Street Park baseball field in Imperial at 10:30 P.M.
At 11:00 that morning Gardner and Girimonti drove Blue to work and picked up [Appellant] from his residence. Gardner, Girimonti, and [Appellant] went to a remote wooded area to shoot Girimonti's rifle. Afterwards they returned to Gardner's apartment to discuss the robbery. [Appellant] volunteered to be the gunman, although they planned on using the gun solely to scare Diaz. The plan called for [Appellant] to be dropped off at a location, hide, and then surprise Girimonti, Gardner, and Diaz with the rifle, pretending to rob all three of them. After picking up Blue from work that evening, Gardner drove Girimonti, [Appellant], and Blue to meet Diaz.
Diaz picked up Justin Bumblis after Diaz left work at Smokey Bones Restaurant that evening and drove to Elm Street Park. Girimonti was on the phone with Diaz as they drove to the park. Gardner flashed the car lights to Diaz so he knew it was Girimonti pulling into the park. However, Girimonti told Gardner to turn around after seeing Diaz's car because he did not like the meeting place. Girimonti called Diaz and they agreed to meet elsewhere. Diaz suggested a nearby landfill, but Girimonti did not like that meeting place either. Girimonti instructed Gardner to drive towards Crafton while Diaz remained in Imperial. Girimonti suggested to Diaz that they meet at Tumbleweeds, a bar off Campbells Run Road near a car wash.
Diaz agreed and while he was en route to Tumbleweeds, Gardner drove to the car wash on Campbells Run Road to drop off [Appellant] and thus set up the robbery. [Appellant] left the vehicle with the rifle and a bandana, and hid in the woods behind the car wash. Gardner then drove with Girimonti and Blue to meet Diaz at Tumbleweeds. Girimonti and Diaz were talking on the phone during this time. When they arrived at Tumbleweeds Girimonti suggested that they go to the nearby car wash instead, commenting to Diaz that the parking lot was too crowded to do the exchange. Diaz agreed and followed Gardner's car to that location. Diaz drove around the front of the car wash and parked in a bay facing the woods at the rear of the car wash. Gardner drove around the back of the car wash and parked his car in the back alley between the woods and the bay where Diaz parked.
Diaz, Bumblis, Gardner, and Girimonti exited their respective vehicles. They walked towards each other and met between the two cars to discuss the exchange. They then walked to Diaz's car together for Diaz to retrieve the marijuana. [Appellant] exited the woods armed with the rifle. At that time the persons were positioned around Diaz's car as follows: Bumblis on the passenger's side, Girimonti near the trunk, Diaz on the driver's side, and Gardner at the front of the vehicle.
[Appellant], with the bandana covering the bottom half of his face, pointed the rifle at Bumblis and Diaz and ordered everyone onto the ground. Diaz and Bumblis complied and lay on their stomachs facing towards the front of the car. Girimonti sat against the wall of the bay and Gardner knelt at the front of the car. [Appellant] yelled from the front of Diaz's car, "I heard y'all holding weight. Where is it?" Diaz stood up and opened the driver's door, purportedly to retrieve the marijuana for [Appellant].
However, Diaz jumped into the driver's seat, closed the door, and tried to put the car into drive to escape. At this time Bumblis began to stand. Gardner and Girimonti stood up and yelled to [Appellant] that Diaz was trying to get away, and that [Appellant] should shoot him. [Appellant], who already had the rifle pointed at Diaz, ran over to the driver's side window. [Appellant] pointed the rifle at Diaz's face, and Diaz looked directly into the barrel of the rifle. [Appellant] pulled the trigger and shot Diaz once in the left shoulder through the closed window.
Diaz started screaming, "I'm shot." Gardner, Girimonti, and [Appellant] immediately ran towards Gardner's car. Gardner entered his vehicle to drive away with Blue. [Appellant] got into the car when Gardner turned it around to drive away. As Gardner tried to drive away Girimonti ran after the car and banged on the window until Gardner stopped to let him in. Gardner sped towards the McKees Rocks area.
Unable to move his left arm, Diaz had Bumblis help him into the front passenger seat. Bumblis drove Diaz's car out of the car wash and headed towards Smokey Bones Restaurant in Robinson Township, a location they both knew and felt was safe. Diaz called 911 and reported the shooting and that they were enroute to the restaurant. Arriving at the restaurant shortly after midnight, Diaz gave a coworker the marijuana from the vehicle. Bumblis cut off Diaz's shirt and wrapped Diaz's gunshot wound with half of the shirt.
Police and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter at Smokey Bones and the car wash. A spent shell casing was found in the bay at the car wash. Diaz was emergently transported from the restaurant to the hospital. He underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments above his left collarbone and eye surgery to remove glass from the shattered driver's side window which had lodged in his eyes. Diaz suffered mobility ...

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