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[U] Commonwealth v. Wine

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 7, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence January 10, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-40-CR-0000456-2012 CP-40-CR-0000839-2012




Lawrence J. Wine appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County after his convictions, in separate jury trials, for resisting arrest[1] and disorderly conduct[2]. Wine now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence leading to those convictions.[3] We affirm.

The charges in this matter arise from two separate incidents. The first incident, resulting in Criminal Information No. 456 of 2012, occurred after Wilkes-Barre Police were dispatched to investigate a possible robbery. After searching the area, Officer Brian Gist noticed Wine and another male matching the description of the robbery suspects walking along the street. Officer Gist instructed both men to stop, but Wine continued walking, and eventually began to run. Officer Gist chased after Wine and eventually apprehended him; Wine then refused to place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. After repeated requests and Wine's continued refusal to place his hands behind his back, the police took Wine to the ground. Police attempted to force Wine to comply using various methods of increasing severity, until they were ultimately forced to tase him.

In a separate incident, leading to Criminal Information No. 839 of 2012, police were called to a disturbance outside Shanix Bar. Upon arrival, the responding officer saw Wine standing on the sidewalk across the street yelling. The officer approached Wine, who refused to speak to the officer, and instead went into Swizzle Sticks Bar. Once inside the bar, Wine continued yelling despite the officer's repeated requests for him to calm down. The bartender turned down the music to determine what was happening, and patrons began to stare. Wine was arrested and continued to yell once outside the bar, leading neighbors to look out of their windows.

Wine was tried by a jury on each criminal information. After being convicted of the aforementioned crimes, Wine was sentenced on January 10, 2013 to one to twelve months' incarceration for resisting arrest, and six to twelve months' incarceration for disorderly conduct.[4] Appellant filed no post-trial motions. This timely appeal followed, in which Wine raises sufficiency of the evidence claims with regard to his convictions for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Prior to addressing the substance of Wine's claims, we must determine whether they have been properly preserved. In its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion, the trial court suggests Wine's 1925(b) statement does not provide the requisite specificity as to which elements of the charged offenses remained unproven at trial. As such, the trial court believes Wine has failed to preserve the sufficiency issues raised on appeal, and has accordingly waived the claims. Rule 1925(b) requires a statement that shall "[c]oncisely identify each ruling or error that the appellant intends to challenge with sufficient detail to identify all pertinent issues for the judge." Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b)(4)(vi). In Commonwealth v. Williams, 959 A.2d 1252, (Pa.Super. 2008), this Court held that where a Rule 1925(b) statement fails "to articulate the specific elements of any crime which he deems the evidence presented at trial failed to sufficiently establish, " the claim is waived. Id. at 1257-58. Nevertheless, in Commonwealth v. Laboy, 936 A.2d 1058 (Pa. 2007), our Supreme Court held that, in a relatively straightforward case, an appellate court may afford sufficiency review where the appellant's claim is readily apprehended. Id. at 1060. Based on the rule articulated in Laboy, we conclude that Wine's Rule 1925(b) statement provides sufficient detail to identify the pertinent issues, and we will review his claims.

In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we must determine whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner, together with all reasonable inferences therefrom, the trier of fact could have found that each and every element of the crimes charged was established beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Randall, 758 A.2d 669, 674 (Pa.Super. 2000).

Wine was convicted of resisting arrest, which is defined as follows:
§ 5104. Resisting Arrest.
A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, with the intent of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty, the person creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the public servant or anyone else, or employs means ...

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