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Commonwealth v. Belknap

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

November 20, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JOSHUA ANTHONY BELKNAP, Appellant

Submitted August 18, 2014

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence October 25, 2013 of the Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County, Criminal Division, No(s): CP-23-CR-0001927-2013. Before MALLON, J.

William E. Ruane, Public Defender, Media, for appellant.

John J. Whelan, District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellee.

BEFORE: DONOHUE, MUNDY, and STABILE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 8

MUNDY, J.:

Appellant, Joshua Anthony Belknap, appeals from the October 25, 2013 judgment of sentence imposing no punishment, after he was found guilty in a bench trial of one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.[1] After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the relevant facts of this case as follows.

On the evening of November 22, 2012, at approximately 9:51 P.M., the Brookhaven Police Department was dispatched to Brookhaven Swim Club. Officer Robert Barth was the first to arrive on the scene. Upon arrival, Officer Barth observed a large crowd of people across the street in a gravel parking lot. As he got closer he saw that the group-was surrounding an individual, later identified as [Appellant], who was lying face down on the ground.
Officer Barth asked everyone to clear the area and asked for information

Page 9

about [] [Appellant]. He checked [Appellant's] vitals and discovered that while he was unresponsive, he had a rapid pulse and was breathing. Officer Barth was told by two individuals on the scene that they believed [Appellant] had overdosed on heroin.
Officer Barth administered sternum rub to the [Appellant's] chest, which he explained as a hard rub on the sternum of the chest and an unconscious subject, if they're not totally out, will come to when you administer the rub. Immediately after administering the rub, [Appellant] opened his eyes for a few seconds and then went back out. Officer Barth then searched [Appellant's] pockets for identification purposes. A needle with an orange cap was recovered from his right pocket. Officer Barth testified that he did not smell any alcohol emanating from [Appellant's] person and did not locate alcohol within the general area where [Appellant] was found. Similarly, Officer Barth did not locate any controlled substances in the general area where [Appellant] was found.

Trial Court Opinion, 3/14/14, at 1-2 (citations to notes of testimony and internal quotation marks omitted).

Appellant was subsequently arrested, and on April 17, 2013, was charged with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Appellant waived his right to a jury and proceeded to a bench trial on October 16, 2013. At trial, the Commonwealth presented evidence from Officer Barth, who testified that, upon arriving at the scene and attempting to revive an unconscious Appellant, two of his friends indicated that Appellant had overdosed on heroin. N.T., 10/16/13, at 20-21, 25. Appellant's counsel objected to said testimony on the grounds it constituted hearsay, but the trial court overruled this objection. Id. at 21, 26. In reaching this conclusion, the trial court concluded that Officer Barth's testimony was admissible under the medical treatment exception to the hearsay rule, pursuant to Pa.R.E. 803(4). See id. at 23-24.

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case-in-chief, Appellant made a motion for a directed verdict, and the trial court took the matter under advisement. Id. at 51-52, 61-64. Following argument on the matter, the trial court denied Appellant's motion on October 21, 2013. Thereafter, on October 25, 2013, the trial court found Appellant guilty of one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, but declined to impose a sentence of confinement. See Trial Court Verdict Slip, 10/25/13; N.T., 10/25/13, at 6, 9. At the time of sentencing, Appellant was on parole in another matter, and was directed by the trial court to comply with the general rules governing probation and ...


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