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[U] Commonwealth v. Uryc

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 4, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of August 29, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Criminal Division at Nos.: CP-36-0000051-2012, CP-36-0005370-2010




Gary Uryc ("Uryc") appeals from his August 29, 2012 judgment of sentence. We affirm.

When M.U. was ten or eleven years old, Uryc touched her genitals with his hands. When M.U. was twelve years old, Uryc forced her to perform oral sex upon him. Both offenses recurred numerous times.

On September 10, 2010, a criminal complaint was filed against Uryc. Uryc was arrested on September 17, 2010. Notes of Testimony ("N.T."), 5/7/2012, at 9. Upon his entry to the Lancaster County jail, Uryc filled out standard paperwork indicating that he wished to have an attorney appointed to represent him.[1] Id. at 84-95.

The next evening, Lancaster Police Officer Gareth Lowe and Detective Aaron Harnish interviewed Uryc at the jail. Id. at 9-10. Officer Lowe explained who he was and why he was there. Uryc then began to make a statement. Id. at 11. Officer Lowe explained that he would have to administer the standard Miranda[2] warnings to Uryc, and that Uryc would have to sign a form to waive those rights if Uryc wished to speak with the police. Id. at 12. The officers did not ask whether Uryc previously had requested an attorney. Id. at 69. Officer Lowe testified that he read the form to Uryc, that he checked off the answer that Uryc gave to each question, and that Uryc signed the form. Id. at 13, 16. Uryc was informed through the waiver that he had the right to have counsel present. Id. at 14. Uryc asserted that he could read and write English, and that he had a GED. Id. at 13-14. Uryc had the opportunity to, and did, review the form prior to signing it. Id. at 15-16.

The interview took place in a small room with a table. Both the officers and Uryc remaining seated throughout. Id. at 36, 38. The entire interview lasted approximately three hours. Id. at 34, 51. Although Uryc became agitated at times during the interview, Officer Lowe testified that neither officer yelled at or exerted physical force upon Uryc. Id. at 42-44.

During review of the first statement that Uryc gave to Officer Lowe, Uryc expressed his unhappiness with how the statement read and declined to continue reviewing it. Id. at 49-50. Detective Harnish then offered to start over and to prepare a new statement with Uryc, an offer which Uryc accepted. Id. at 53.

Detective Harnish corroborated Officer Lowe's account and described the interview as "cordial." Id. at 58-62. Detective Harnish testified about Uryc's second statement, in which Uryc said that he believed M.U. was honest, that Uryc had no recollection of any of the actions of which he had been accused, and that Uryc's alcohol use caused him to lose control. Id. at 63-65.

On May 2, 2012, Uryc filed a pre-trial motion seeking, inter alia, to suppress the statements that he made to Officer Lowe and Detective Harnish. On May 7, 2012, the court held a hearing on the motion. On May 8, 2012, the court denied the motion. The case proceeded to a jury trial.

The trial court summarized the remaining procedural history in this case as follows:

[Uryc] has filed a direct appeal . . . of his conviction, on May [10], 2012, after a jury trial, of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion, incest, two counts of indecent assault person less than 13 years, corruption of minors, and two counts of intimidation of a witness.[3] On August [29], 2012, after a presentence investigation, he was sentenced to an aggregate of [thirty-two] to [sixty-four] years in prison. [Uryc] was directed to file a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement, and he has done so.

Trial Court Opinion ("T.C.O."), 12/10/2012, at 1 (footnotes omitted, some capitalization modified).

Uryc raises two challenges on appeal:

I. Did the trial court err in refusing to suppress [Uryc's] statements to police, which were obtained after [Uryc] had been charged, arraigned, incarcerated, and had requested an attorney, in violation of [Uryc's] right to counsel as set forth in Article I, Section Nine of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Commonwealth v. Franciscus, 551 Pa. 376, 710 A.2d 1112 (1998)?
II. Was the evidence presented by the Commonwealth insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Uryc] committed the offense of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, where the jury could only speculate as to whether M.U. was less than 13 years of age at the time of any of the incident[s] which would have constituted the remaining elements of the offense of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse? Uryc's Brief at 7. Uryc first challenges the trial court's suppression ruling. Our standard of review is well-settled:
[I]n addressing a challenge to a trial court's denial of a suppression motion [we are] limited to determining whether the factual findings are supported by the record and whether the legal conclusions drawn from those facts are correct. Since the [Commonwealth] prevailed in the suppression court, we may consider only the evidence of the [Commonwealth] and so much of the evidence for the defense as remains uncontradicted when read in the context of the record as a whole. Where the record supports the factual findings of the trial court, we are bound by those facts and may reverse only if the legal conclusions drawn therefrom are in error.

Commonwealth v. Cauley, 10 A.3d 321, 325 (Pa.Super. 2010) (quoting Commonwealth v. Bomar, 826 A.2d 831, 842 (Pa. 2003)).

Uryc argues that his statements to the police should have been suppressed because he was denied his right to counsel. Uryc maintains that, when he entered the county jail following his arrest and arraignment, he filled out a form requesting the appointment of counsel. Uryc asserts that filling out the form constituted an invocation of counsel. Hence, he avers, it was improper for police ...

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