from the Judgment of Sentence December 15, 2015 In the Court
of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: PANELLA, LAZARUS, JJ., and STEVENS, P.J.E.
Tariq Rashid appeals from the judgment of sentence of life in
prison entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia
County on December 15, 2015, following his jury trial
convictions of one count each of First Degree Murder,
Possession of an Instrument of Crime and Firearms not to be
carried without a license. We affirm.
trial court aptly set forth the relevant facts herein as
Around 3:00 A.M. on May 23, 1999, the decedent, Warner
Freeman ("Freeman") also known as "Hip
hop" was playing a dice game on Landsdowne Avenue
between 55th and Allison Streets in the City and
County of Philadelphia. (N.T. 12/9/15 at 71-76) Rashawn
Holmes ("Holmes") also known as "Shawn"
and Appellant's cousin, Harvey Meyers
("Meyers") joined the game. Id.; N.T
12/14/15 at 16. An argument ensued between Freeman and
Meyers, and Freeman got into a car and drove away. (N.T.
12/9/15 at 76-88) The group was still playing dice when
Freeman returned shortly thereafter, exited the car, resumed
his argument with Meyers and shot him three to four (3-4)
times in the upper body with a handgun. Id. Meyers
died as a result of his wounds. Holmes made a statement to
police and identified Freeman, who was unknown to him, as the
On June 13, 1999, Antonio Connor ("Connor") also
known as "Tone" was double-parked in his Oldsmobile
Cutlass at the 1400 block of Redfield and Master Streets in
the City and County of Philadelphia. Id. at 196-213.
Freeman, seated in the passenger seat of the Cutlass, was to
meet Kareem McBride ("McBride") at that location.
(N.T. 2/11/15 at 103-110). Both Connor and Freeman lived in
the area. (N.T. 12/9/15 at 191). Freeman had the passenger
side window rolled down and was talking to various people he
knew from the neighborhood. Darnell Jones ("Jones")
spoke to the men briefly and walked southbound. (N.T. 12/1/15
at 146-147). Jones saw the Appellant at the end of the block
and Appellant asked who was in the Cutlass. Id.
Jones indicated it was Freeman and Connor and Jones watched
Appellant get into his car and drive in the direction of the
double-parked Cutlass. Id. Freeman was talking to
his friend William Cummings ("Cummings"), a
pedestrian who was also from the neighborhood, when Appellant
pulled up behind Connor's Cutlass and exited his own
vehicle. (N.T. 12/9/15 at 128-129, 132-148). Cummings
observed Appellant, who was known to him, walking towards
Freeman's side of the car. Id. Jones could also
see Appellant from his vantage point. Cummings saw Appellant
reaching for his waistband and Cummings ran. (N.T. 12/9/15 at
142-144). Appellant fired three to four (3-4) shots at
Freeman, striking him. McBride, who was on the 1300 Block of
Redfield Street, also saw the incident. (N.T. 12/9/15 at
108-122). Connor transported Freeman to Lankenau Hospital,
where he was pronounced dead at 10:35 P.M. Id. at
An autopsy was performed by Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Ian
Hood. (12/11/15 at 252-276). Upon reviewing the case file and
photos of Freeman's autopsy, Chief Medical Examiner Dr.
Sam Gulino testified as Dr. Hood was no longer with the
Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office. Id. Dr.
Gulino determined the cause of death was a gunshot wound to
the torso. Id. The manner of death was found to be
homicide. Id. Freeman was shot approximately two (2)
times, one (1) bullet went through the right forearm exited,
and entered Freeman's right chest, where the bullet
passed through Freeman's right and left lungs, aorta and
liver. Id. The other bullet entered the left
forearm. Id. Three (3) bullets were recovered from
Freeman's body, one (1) was a bullet from a prior
shooting. Id. Through ballistics analysis the
bullets from the fresh wounds were found to be of .38
caliber, and fired from the same gun. (N.T. 12/14/15 at 45,
On March 1, 2000, Jones was in federal custody and engaged in
a proffer discussion wherein he outlined his knowledge of
Freeman's death. (12/10/15 at 134-140). Jones alleged
that Connor was a "drug mule" for Michael Gaffney
("Gaffney") also known as Mikael.4
Id. at 97-101. Jones also alleged that he knew
Appellant to carry a .25 caliber handgun. Id. at
The homicide of Freeman remained stagnant for approximately
thirteen (13) years until November 19, 2014 when Cummings, in
custody, made a statement to police outlining the incident.
(N.T. 12/9/15 at 146-I47). It was stipulated by and between
counsel that at the time of the shooting, Appellant did not
have a permit to carry a firearm, and he had been arrested
December 2, 2014. (N.T. 12/14/15 at 57-58).
4 Gaffney's alleged drug involvement with
others is what defense counsel refers to as the "Gaffney
Trial Court Opinion, filed 7/14/16, at 3-5.
filed a timely notice of appeal on December 31, 2015. On
February 24, 2016, the trial court issued its Order to File
Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal. Appellant
complied and filed the same on March 16, 2016 wherein he
raised six issues. In his appellate brief, Appellant presents
the following five questions for our review:
1. Did the trial court err and violate [Appellant's]
right to present a defense by precluding evidence that tended
to prove that someone other than [Appellant] had a motive for
committing the murder?
2. Did the lower court err when it precluded the defense from
impeaching a witness by concluding that the witness'
Fifth Amendment privilege applied when it clearly did not?
3. Did the lower court err when it precluded the defense from
impeaching an alleged eyewitness with his testimony from
4. Did the trial court err by allowing the Commonwealth to
introduce evidence that [Appellant] possessed a handgun,
where it was physically impossible for that gun to be
involved in the crime?
5. Did the trial court err in refusing to grant a mistrial
after the prosecutor improperly attacked the defense's
character witnesses with irrelevant and prejudicial questions
Brief for Appellant at 4-5.
first four issues challenge the trial court's decisions
pertaining to the admission of evidence at trial. Our
standard of review for evidentiary matters is
The admission of evidence is a matter vested within the sound
discretion of the trial court, and such a decision shall be
reversed only upon a showing that the trial court abused its
discretion. In determining whether evidence should be
admitted, the trial court must weigh the relevant and
probative value of the evidence against the prejudicial
impact of the evidence. Evidence is relevant if it logically
tends to establish a material fact in the case or tends to
support a reasonable inference regarding a material fact.
Although a court may find that evidence is relevant, the
court may nevertheless conclude that such evidence is
inadmissible on account of its prejudicial impact.
Commonwealth v. Antidormi, 84 A.3d 736, 749
(Pa.Super. 2014) (citation omitted).
Appellant avers that at numerous times throughout trial he
sought to introduce testimonial evidence that Connor had a
motive to kill Freeman based upon the men's involvement
in the "Gaffney Organization." Appellant reasons
that "if the Commonwealth was allowed to argue that
[Appellant] had a motive to kill Freeman, there is no reason
why [Appellant] should not have been allowed to do the same
thing about somebody else." Brief for Appellant at 12.
Appellant posits our Supreme Court's decision in
Commonwealth v. Ward, 529 Pa. 506, 605 A.2d 796
(1992) is instructive herein. In that case, the Court held it
was prejudicial error for the trial court to exclude
testimony of a police detective and a Red Cross worker which
would have supported the defense theory that other
individuals had a motive to commit the crimes of which the
defendant had been convicted and contradicted the
Commonwealth's evidence of the defendant's own
the trial court ruled evidence regarding the operations of
the "Gaffney Organization" was inadmissible and
explained its rationale in doing so as follows:
[ ] Appellant was not precluded from introducing an
alternative theory or arguing motive, he was however
precluded from introducing irrelevant evidence. In his
opening statement, defense counsel presented the theory that
the "Gaffney Organization[, ]" a purported drug
operation from the neighborhood, was responsible for
Freeman's murder in 1999 and that Connor, a mule for
Gaffney, had motive to kill Freeman. As an initial matter,
determining whether Connor or other individuals had been
involved with the Gaffney Organization in selling or moving
illicit substances was of no moment in Freeman's death as
that information would not have made it less probable that
Appellant shot Freeman. Cummings, McBride, and Jones
identified Appellant as the shooter. (N.T. 12/9/15 at
150-151; 12/11/15 at 105; 12/10/15 at 143). Appellant was
permitted to question Connor and Cummings on
cross-examination about their knowledge of individuals with
the last name Gaffney who were from the neighborhood. (N.T.
12/9/15 at 167-169, 254; 12/10/15 at 85-). Connor
confirmed knowing Mikael Gaffney and Andre Gaffney. (N.T.
12/9/15 at 167-169. Connor testified he had no business
interests with [the] aforementioned people. Id. at
255. Trial counsel was free to ask Connor if he wanted
Freeman dead or had any prior knowledge about an attempt on
Freeman's life, however counsel failed to do so. Any
evidence Appellant wished to introduce to support an
alternative theory was subject to the Pennsylvania Rules of
Evidence, as such no relief is due.
Trial Court Opinion, field 7/14/16, at 6-7.
a careful review of the certified record, the parties'
submissions and the trial court's Rule 1925(a) Opinion,
we find no error. A trial court does not abuse its discretion
when it precludes cross-examination based upon inadmissible
evidence. Commonwealth v. Hyland, 875 A.2d 1175,
1187 (Pa.Super. 2005). Appellant sought to introduce evidence
pertaining to a written summary of Jones' proffer to
federal authorities in 2000. Known as a 302, the typewritten
document had been prepared by the FBI and consisted of a
"little summary that they write for themselves as to
what the witness says and the information that the witness
gives." N.T., 12/10/15, at 97. When the trial court
questioned him whether the 302 ...