from the Judgment of Sentence July 27, 2016 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Northampton County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: OLSON, SOLANO and MUSMANNO, JJ.
Franklyn Palmer Hutchison IV, appeals from the judgment of
sentence entered on July 27, 2016. We hold that the evidence
in this case was sufficient to convict Appellant of abuse of
a corpse. As we also conclude that Appellant is not entitled
to relief on his remaining claims of error, we affirm.
factual background and procedural history of this case are as
follows. Appellant and Brianne Miles ("Miles")
rented an apartment together. On July 7 or 8, 2015, Miles
died of a drug overdose in the apartment. Appellant
discovered Miles' body on July 8, 2015. Two days later,
Appellant finally called police and notified them that there
was a dead body in the apartment. When police arrived,
Appellant originally told them that he discovered Miles'
body that morning. Police found drug paraphernalia in the
February 11, 2016, the Commonwealth charged Appellant via
criminal information with abuse of a corpse,  filing a false
police report,  and possession of drug
paraphernalia. On May 24, 2016, Appellant filed a motion
in limine seeking to exclude photographs of the
corpse from being introduced into evidence. On May 31, 2016,
jury selection commenced. On June 1, 2016, the trial court
denied Appellant's motion in limine. On June 2,
2016, the jury found Appellant guilty of all three offenses.
On July 27, 2016, the trial court sentenced Appellant to two
to four years' imprisonment. This timely appeal
Appellant presents four issues for our review:
1. Did the trial court commit reversible error by refusing to
dismiss the charge of abuse of corpse where the evidence
established that  Appellant failed to promptly report
[Miles'] death to authorities but otherwise did not cause
her demise or manipulate her remains?
2. Did the trial court commit reversible error by permitting
the Commonwealth to appeal to the sympathy of the jury by
means of the prosecutor's argument to the jury that it
should "imagine" what it felt like to be
[Miles'] family members upon discovering the death of
[Miles] and the decomposed state of her remains?
3. Did the trial court commit reversible error by permitting
the Commonwealth to introduce graphic, color photographs of
[Miles'] decomposed remains to the jury that were so
disproportionally inflammatory in comparison to their
evidentiary value so as to prejudice the Appellant and
deprive him of a fair trial?
4. Did the trial court commit reversible error by failing to
set forth sufficient reasons upon the record for imposing
consecutive, statutory maximum sentences upon [Appellant?]
Appellant's Brief at 7 (certain capitalization omitted).
first issue, Appellant argues that the evidence was
insufficient to convict him of abuse of a corpse.
"Whether sufficient evidence exists to support the
verdict is a question of law; our standard of review is
de novo and our scope of review is plenary."
Commonwealth v. Giron, 155 A.3d 635, 638 (Pa. Super.
2017) (citation omitted). In assessing Appellant's
sufficiency challenge, we must determine "whether
viewing all the evidence admitted at trial in the light most
favorable to the [Commonwealth], there is sufficient evidence
to enable the fact-finder to find every element of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt." Commonwealth v.
Williams, 153 A.3d 372, 375 (Pa. Super. 2016) (citation
omitted). "The evidence need not preclude every
possibility of innocence and the fact-finder is free to
believe all, part, or none of the evidence presented."
Commonwealth v. Kennedy, 151 A.3d 1117, 1121 (Pa.
Super. 2016) (citation omitted).
Crimes Code makes it an offense to "treat a corpse in
a way that [one] knows would outrage ordinary family
sensibilities[.]" 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5510 (defining the
crime of abuse of a corpse). Appellant contends that his
inaction, i.e., failing to notify the authorities
when he discovered Miles' body, is not criminalized by
the statute. He argues that, in order for his inaction to be
criminal under the statute, he needed to have a fiduciary
relationship with Miles.
conclude that, under this Court's decision in
Commonwealth v. Smith, 567 A.2d 1070 (Pa. Super.
1989), appeal denied, 585 A.2d 468 (Pa. 1990), the
evidence was sufficient to convict Appellant of abuse of a
corpse. In Smith, the defendant starved her
three-year-old child to death. After the defendant discovered
the child's body, she moved out of the apartment and did
not report the child's death to authorities. Three months
later, maintenance workers entered the apartment to shut off
the utilities and discovered the child's decomposing and
mummified remains. The defendant was convicted of abuse of a
corpse. On appeal, she argued that her inaction in failing to
notify authorities of the child's death was not covered
by the abuse of a corpse statute.
Court framed the issue as "whether a person who
knowingly leaves a corpse to rot, without making arrangements
for a proper burial has treated a corpse in a way that she
knows would outrage ordinary family sensibilities."
Id. at 1073 (internal quotation marks and
alterations omitted). Relying upon the commentaries to the
Model Penal Code, which section 5510 is based on, this Court
held that "the purpose of drafting the abuse of corpse
statute in very broad and general language was to ensure that
offenses such as concealing a corpse came under the purview
of the statute." Smith, 567 A.2d at 1073. That
is what occurred in the case at bar. Appellant concealed
Miles' corpse from authorities so that she could not
receive a proper burial. Under Smith, this inaction
violates section 5510.
attempts to distinguish Smith in two ways. First, he
argues that the special mother-child relationship in
Smith provided the mother with a fiduciary duty that
he, as a roommate, did not possess. Furthermore, he argues
that because the mother in Smith tied a rope around
the door handle of the child's bedroom, where the child
was found dead, she took some affirmative action in
concealing the child's body while he took no affirmative
action to conceal Miles' body.
argues that Smith was based upon the fiduciary
relationship the defendant had to care for her child.
Although this Court did focus on that relationship, it was in
the context of discussing the sufficiency of the evidence for
the third-degree murder conviction. See id. at 1072.
This Court did not reference the parent-child relationship
when discussing the defendant's abuse of a corpse
conviction. Instead, this Court only focused on the fact that
the defendant failed to notify authorities of the child's
death and chose ...