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[U] Commonwealth v. Butler-Hayes

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 12, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
LEVEEL BUTLER-HAYES, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered July 13, 2011, In the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Criminal Division, at No. CP-46-CR-0002398-2010.

BEFORE: SHOGAN, OTT and PLATT [*] , JJ.

MEMORANDUM

SHOGAN, J.

Appellant, Laveel Butler-Hayes, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered on July 13, 2011, in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. We affirm.

The record reveals that on March 11, 2010, Appellant and an accomplice robbed Clifford Smith ("Smith") at gunpoint. (N.T., 3/1/11, at 82-92). During the robbery, Sanford Michael Jackson ("Jackson"), Smith's uncle, attempted to intervene, and Appellant shot and killed him. Id.

The trial court set forth the procedural history as follows:
On March 3, 2011, after a four-day trial, the jury found [Appellant] guilty of … second degree murder, robbery, criminal conspiracy, and VUFA. At sentencing on July 13, 2011, the Court reviewed the previously requested Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI), and the testimony produced by both [Appellant] and the Commonwealth. Thereafter, the undersigned sentenced [Appellant] to the mandatory term of lifetime imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, for his conviction of second degree murder. The Court also imposed concurrent sentences on the remaining charges. On July 19, 2011, [Appellant] filed a timely Post-Sentence Motion. After argument, the Court denied [Appellant's] Motion by Order dated February 23, 2012. Thereafter, on March 23, 2012, [Appellant] filed a timely Notice of Appeal challenging the imposition of his sentence. [Appellant] filed a timely Pa. R.A.P. 1925(b) Statement, and, by Order dated July 31, 2012, the undersigned granted [Appellant] leave to supplement his 1925(b) Statement to include a claim under the recently decided Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012).

Trial Court Opinion, 11/15/12, at 6-7 (internal citations and footnotes omitted).[1]

On appeal, Appellant raises only one issue:
Does the imposition of a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole for second degree murder violate Amendment VIII of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Pennsylvania Constitution?

Appellant's Brief at 4. Specifically, Appellant challenges the constitutionality of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 1102(b). His entire argument focuses on the fact that, because the trial court had no discretion but to impose a sentence of life without parole for second-degree murder, the sentence was imposed without due process and violated Pennsylvania's individualized sentencing scheme. Appellant's Brief at 10-15.

At the outset, we note that the constitutionality of a statute is a pure question of law; our standard of review is de novo and our scope of review is plenary. Commonwealth v. Omar, ...


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