from the Order May 27, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of
Allegheny County Criminal Division at No.:
BEFORE: DUBOW, J., SOLANO, J., and FITZGERALD
Commonwealth appeals from the trial court's May 27, 2016
Orderentered by the Allegheny County Court of
Common Pleas dismissing all charges against Appellee, Giante
Hilliard. After careful review, we reverse the trial
court's May 27, 2016 Order and remand for further
August 22, 2015, a vehicle pulled up beside Anthony Baltimore
as he was walking to work near a fire station in Pittsburgh.
Someone in the vehicle wearing a hoodie shot at Baltimore,
hitting him nine times. An ambulance responded and transported
Baltimore to the hospital.
Police Homicide Detective Edward Fallert, after learning of
the shooting, entered the triage unit in the emergency room.
He observed Baltimore on a gurney with his clothing removed,
hooked up to several different machines, with nine hospital
staff members discussing Baltimore's gunshot wounds to
his trunk. Detective Fallert learned that Baltimore was
losing a lot of blood internally, and the hospital staff
members were preparing Baltimore for emergency surgery and
about to rush him into the operating room. Detective Fallert
stated that he believed Baltimore "wasn't going to
make it." N.T., 10/20/15, at 18.
Fallert followed Baltimore as he was being rushed from the
triage unit to the operating room and asked Baltimore who had
shot him. Baltimore stated that Giante Hilliard
("Appellee") had shot him. The hospital staff
members then rushed Baltimore into emergency surgery in the
operating room. Baltimore survived.
same day, Detective Fallert learned that Appellee was in the
same hospital with a gunshot wound to his hand. Detective
Fallert entered Appellee's room and observed the wound.
After verbally giving Appellee Miranda warnings,
Detective Fallert asked Appellee to describe how and where he
had been shot. Appellee told Detective Fallert that he was
"a passenger in a vehicle when an unknown person fired a
gun from outside the vehicle and struck him in the
hand." N.T., 10/20/15, at 22. Appellee then was dropped
off at the hospital for treatment. Id.
Commonwealth arrested Appellee and charged him with one count
of Criminal Attempt (Homicide), one count of Aggravated
Assault, and one count of Carrying a Firearm Without a
October 20, 2015, at Appellee's Preliminary Hearing, the
Commonwealth called Baltimore and Detective Fallert to
testify. Baltimore testified about the shooting, the extent
of his injuries, and his continued medical treatment.
Baltimore did not identify Appellee as the shooter, and
claimed that he "really couldn't see who was in the
vehicle" or who had shot him. Baltimore twice stated
that "[t]here was a hoodie over his [the shooter's]
head." N.T., 10/20/15, at 5, 7. Baltimore testified that
he remembered speaking to officers at the hospital, but he
did not recall what he told them about who had shot him.
Appellee's hearsay objections, Detective Fallert
testified about Baltimore's statement and the surrounding
circumstances, as well as his interaction with Appellee in
the hospital. The court ultimately admitted Detective
Fallert's testimony regarding Baltimore's statement
identifying Appellee as the shooter as an excited utterance,
but did not opine on the Commonwealth's argument that the
statement constituted a dying declaration.
end of the Preliminary Hearing, Appellee argued that the
Commonwealth did not establish a prima facie case
against him because it relied solely on hearsay evidence to
prove his identity as the shooter. He claimed that the
admission of the statement violated his confrontation rights
because Baltimore did not remember making the statement to
Detective Fallert. Appellee further argued this evidence was
unreliable because it conflicted with Baltimore's
testimony. The Honorable Hugh F. McGough held the case for
trial, concluding that the Commonwealth had met its burden
and had established the prima facie
March 3, 2016, Appellee filed a written Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus based solely on the issue of
Baltimore's statements arguing that the Commonwealth
failed to establish a prima facie case because the
victim testified at the Preliminary Hearing that he did not
see who shot him. On March 23, 2016, the Honorable Randal B.
Todd conducted a hearing on Appellee's Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus. At the hearing, Appellee also
argued that (1) Baltimore's statement to Detective
Fallert identifying the shooter did not qualify as admissible
evidence under the excited utterance exception or the dying
declaration exception to the hearsay rule, and (2) this
evidence was testimonial hearsay, which violated the
Confrontation Clause. Appellee argued that the trial court
should essentially reassess and overturn this evidentiary
ruling, conclude that the Commonwealth failed to establish a
prima facie case, and dismiss all charges as a
result. N.T., 3/23/16, at 5-7. The trial court took the
matter under advisement and the parties submitted briefs.
27, 2016, Judge Todd granted Appellee's Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus and dismissed all charges.
21, 2016, the Commonwealth filed a Notice of Appeal. Both the
Commonwealth and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P.
Commonwealth presents one issue for our review:
Whether the trial court erred in granting the Petition for
Writ of ...