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[U] Commonwealth v. Mathis

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 6, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
MARQUIS D. MATHIS, Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
MARQUIS D. MATHIS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 3, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County Criminal Division at Nos. CP-07-CR-0002104-2012, CP-07-CR-0002105-2012

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., DONOHUE, J., and PLATT, J. [*]

MEMORANDUM

PLATT, J.

Appellant, Marquis D. Mathis, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered following his guilty plea to criminal conspiracy, simple assault, possession of a firearm by a minor, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, and two counts each of robbery, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person (REAP) and aggravated assault. Specifically, he challenges the trial court's denial of his motion for decertification and transfer to the juvenile justice system. We affirm.

Appellant, born September 11, 1994, turned eighteen in September 2012. He grew up in Philadelphia without consistent supervision and became "parentified" in that he was responsible for caring for his younger siblings, because his father was absent and his mother struggled with drug problems. (See N.T., 7/17/12, at 2, 4-5). He began drinking alcohol and doing drugs around age thirteen or fourteen, became involved with a bad peer group, and was ultimately expelled for bringing a pocket knife to school. (Id. at 6, 8-9, 12, 30).

Appellant moved to Altoona, PA, with his mother in August 2010. (Id. at 20). He attended the Kimmel School, where he had no disciplinary sanctions or tardiness, and was a good student academically. (Id. at 16, 31, 38). However, he began using drugs and missing school, and ran away from home. (Id. at 27-28). He then moved in with a cousin who was involved with drugs and guns and is now incarcerated at Camp Hill SCI. (Id. at 58-59).

On February 1, 2012, around 10:00 p.m., Linda McCauley was walking toward 17th Street in Altoona, across the street from Goodman's Garage, when three men in hoodies and bandannas surrounded her. (N.T., 8/20/12, at 120-21). She became frightened and ran to the garage, which had lights on and was open. (Id. at 121-22).

Meanwhile, Brian Miller and his fiancée were walking home down an alley near the 17th Street Sheetz in Altoona when three people ran up from behind them and mugged them at gunpoint. (See N.T., 7/17/12, at 227-28). The three individuals were wearing hoodies and bandannas over their faces and it was dark, but Miller could see that the individual holding the gun was African American. (Id. at 228-29). When Miller turned to walk away, one of them hit him with something like a brick on the back of the head. (Id. at 229). His fiancée became hysterical and dropped to the ground. (Id. at 251).

Randy Goodman was working in Goodman's Garage when McCauley came in "in hysterics" and told him that someone had tried to mug her out in front of his store. (Id. at 243). Goodman ran out into the alley, which was about fifteen feet from the entrance to his garage, where he saw three individuals standing over Miller. (Id. at 235-36). He saw one of them strike Miller on the head. (Id.). Goodman grabbed for the individual who had hit Miller, and his bandanna fell down so Goodman could see his face before he ran off after the other two individuals. (Id. at 236, 248). Goodman saw something in his hand but could not identify it because the alley was dark. (Id. at 242). Goodman carried Miller back to his garage and called the police. (Id. at 244). Goodman later identified the person he grabbed in a photographic lineup as Appellant, who is African American. (Id. at 236-37, 245).

Three weeks later, on February 22, 2012, around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., Keith Lego and his friend, Zach Rutherford, were in Lego's garage at 2110 6th Avenue in Altoona when Appellant walked in with what appeared to be a .44 Mag revolver and told them "to give him all [their] stuff." (N.T., 8/20/12, at 137; see id. at 165). Lego laughed at him, and Appellant hit Lego in the face with the gun, cutting him. (Id. at 138). Appellant, who was about two feet away from Lego, pulled the hammer back and fired the gun to the left of Lego and Rutherford. (Id. at 138-41). They gave him their cell phones, Rutherford's wallet, and Lego's lighter, and after he left, Lego called the police. (Id. at 150).

That night, Officer Cory Smeal apprehended Appellant at 2511 West Chestnut Avenue, where he also observed a handgun and a spent casing. (Id. at 175, 179). After handcuffing and searching Appellant, police recovered Rutherford's wallet, two cell phones, and Lego's lighter, among other things. (Id. at 186-87). Police brought Lego and Rutherford to Appellant, and they identified him as the man who came into Lego's garage. (Id. at 150-51, 166). After obtaining a search warrant for 2511 West Chestnut, police found "[a] .38 revolver; one spent .38 casing; nine live .38 rounds; a partial box of .38 ammunition and . . . multiple [items of] clothing." (Id. at 187-88; see id. at 189-90).

Appellant was charged at Docket No. 2104 of 2012 with one count each of robbery, theft, receiving stolen property, terroristic threats, REAP, two counts of conspiracy, and three counts each of disorderly conduct and harassment. At Docket No. 2105 of 2012, Appellant was charged with two counts each of robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, terroristic threats, simple assault, REAP, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and harassment, and one count of possession of a firearm by a minor. (See Motion for Decertification, 3/13/12, at unnumbered pages 1-2). On March 13, 2012, Appellant filed a petition to transfer proceedings from "adult court" to the juvenile justice system. (Id. at unnumbered page 2). After a hearing, held over two days on July 17 and August 20, 2012, the trial court denied the motion by order and opinion of September 7, 2012. On May 3, 2013, Appellant pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, simple assault, possession of a firearm by a minor, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, and two counts each of robbery, terroristic threats, REAP, and aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to an aggregate term of not less than five nor more than fifteen years' incarceration. (See Order, 5/03/13, at 1-10). Appellant filed post-sentence motions, which the trial court denied on August 1, 2013, and Appellant timely appealed.[1]

Appellant raises one question for our review:

Given that the totality of the evidence showed Appellant's alleged crimes had a low level of sophistication, relatively little public impact, along with Appellant's good grades, lack of juveniles [sic] record, and an amenability to treatment, did the [trial] court err in denying ...

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