from the Judgment of Sentence November 20, 2015 In the Court
of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: STABILE, J., DUBOW, J., and STEVENS, PJ.E. [*]
Kareem Omar Von Evans, appeals from the Judgment of Sentence
entered in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas following
his conviction of Criminal Solicitation of Witness
Intimidation. After careful review of the facts of the case
and current case law, we conclude that the Commonwealth's
evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that the Appellant
intended to "intimidate" the victim not to testify
at the underlying trial. Rather, the evidence demonstrates
that Appellant merely intended to "induce" the
victim not to testify. Therefore, we are constrained to
reverse Appellant's conviction of Criminal Solicitation
of Witness Intimidation and vacate his Judgment of Sentence.
matter arises from Appellant's telephone and in-person
conversations with his girlfriend while incarcerated and
awaiting trial in a rape case. In those conversations, Appellant
asked his girlfriend to contact the victim in the rape case
and offer to pay her not to testify. His girlfriend was never
able to contact the victim.
obtaining the evidence of these conversations, the
Commonwealth charged Appellant with one count each of
Criminal Solicitation to Intimidate a Witness, Conspiracy to
Commit Criminal Solicitation, and Witness Intimidation.
March 16, 2015, Appellant waived his right to a jury trial in
the instant matter and agreed to a stipulated waiver trial.
The parties stipulated to certain facts, which they then
submitted to the court.
trial court summarized the evidence from the stipulated facts
that it found relevant as follows:
The stipulated facts indicate that Appellant called Kalesha
Cruz on multiple occasions between August 13, 2014 and
September 25, 2014 to encourage her to contact the
complaining witness in his underlying rape case so as to
attempt to give her money in exchange for no longer appearing
at judicial proceedings in his case. Appellant further
discussed the possibility of Ms. Cruz contacting the victim
during face-to-face visits that she made to the Bucks County
Correctional Facility on various occasions during that same
Trial Ct. Op., 5/13/16, at 7.
trial court also summarized the testimony of the
Appellant's girlfriend at the underlying rape trial in
which she testified that the Appellant asked her to offer
money to the rape victim in exchange for the rape victim not
At Appellant's rape trial, Ms. Cruz confirmed the fact
that Appellant instructed her to attempt to locate the victim
so as to give her financial compensation in exchange for not
testifying against Appellant. Ms. Cruz was further able to
identify the above-referenced conversations between her and
Appellant during which Appellant discussed his plan. Ms. Cruz
detailed that she received information from Appellant's
family concerning the name of the victim, and she was sent
screenshots of the victim's [B]ackpage account. After
receiving the images, Ms. Cruz called the victim's phone
number three (3) times from her cell phone and three (3)
times from a pay phone, but only heard a sound resembling a
fax machine in each instance. Additionally, Ms. Cruz
identified phone conversations with Appellant where they
would discuss her progress in attempting to contact the
victim. Ms. Cruz reiterated that the reason she attempted to
contact the victim was at the request of Appellant.
trial court also summarized the testimony of Appellant who
admitted at his rape trial that he talked to his girlfriend
about paying the victim in the rape case not to testify:
While testifying at trial, Appellant admitted to making the
above-referenced phone calls to Ms. Cruz where he discussed
attempting to contact the victim in his underlying rape
trial. Similarly, Appellant disclosed that his intention was
to pay the victim to secure her unavailability for trial.
Appellant specifically conceded:
So my hopes to accomplish during the phone call was not to
hurt anyone, but hoping if you give this person some money,
that she wouldn't show up to court and put our family
through this stress and this terrible incident to be accused
of .... So I hoped that if I could give her the money, that
all of this could go away.
Id. at 8.
on this evidence, the trial court found Appellant guilty of
Criminal Solicitation to Intimidate a Witness. On November 20,
2015, the court sentenced Appellant to a term of 3½ to
10 years' incarceration, which was to run consecutively
to the 40 ...