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Commonwealth v. Price

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

May 2, 2018

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
TREVOR ALLAN PRICE Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
TRAVIS ALLEN PRICE Appellant

          Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence February 3, 2017 In the Court of Common Pleas of York County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-67-CR-0001351-2014, CP-67-CR-0001350-2014

          BEFORE: OTT, J., DUBOW, J., and STRASSBURGER [*] , J.

          OPINION

          OTT, J.

         Trevor Allan Price and Travis Allen Price ("the Price brothers") appeal from their respective judgments of sentence entered on February 3, 2017, in the York County Court of Common Pleas.[1] The trial court imposed a term of six to 23 months' imprisonment with respect to both men, following a joint non-jury trial in which the Price brothers were convicted of statutory sexual assault (4-8 years older).[2] On appeal, the Price brothers contend: (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to determine that the Commonwealth could not meet the statutory requirement that the Price brothers were not "four or more years older" than the victim, where such is an element of the offense of statutory sexual assault; and (2) whether the court abused its discretion when it ruled they could not argue the critical factual issue concerning the meaning of the term "four or more years older" to the jury. See Trevor Price's Brief at 6; see also Travis Price's Brief at 5. For the reasons below, we vacate the judgments of sentence.

         The trial court set forth the factual history regarding Trevor Price as follows:

[Trevor Price] engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim. Trevor admitted to this conduct. The victim was born on May 5th, 1998, at 8:16 a.m. Trevor Price was born on May 5, 1994, at 7:00 p.m. The first incident occurred in June of 2012 and subsequent instances of sexual contact occurred for the ensuing two years. It was also stipulated that Trevor was 18 years of age at the time of the first incident. Additionally, simple arithmetic indicates that the victim, having been born in May of 1998 and the first incident occurring in June of 2012, was 14 years old at the time of the first incident.

Trial Court Opinion, 6/2/2017, at 4 (record citations omitted).

         With respect to Travis Price, he also admitted that he engaged in sexual intercourse with the same victim on one occasion. Id. The incident occurred in August of 2012. Id.

It was also stipulated that Travis was 18 years of age at the time of the incident. Additionally, simple arithmetic indicates that the victim, having been born in May of 1998 and the first incident occurring in August of 2012, was 14 years old at the time of the incident.

Id. at 4-5. Both men have been represented by the same counsel throughout these proceedings.

         Moreover, the court recited the procedural history of these cases as follows:

[The Price brothers], who are identical twins, were charged in separate Informations with charges of a sexual nature for separate incidents involving the same victim. Trevor Price was charged with Statutory Sexual Assault, 1 Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, 2 Aggravated Indecent Assault, 3 Corruption of Minors, 4 and Indecent Assault.5 Travis [Price] was charged with Statutory Sexual Assault, 6 Aggravated Indecent Assault, 7 Corruption of Minors, 8 and Indecent Assault.9 Despite the cases being separate, the procedural histories of each case have, befitting twins, marched in lockstep. Ab initio, we note that we administered a colloquy to [the Price brothers] regarding their joint representation by their counsel and we were satisfied that they knowingly and voluntarily waived any potential conflict.
1 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3122.1(a)(1).
2 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3123(a)(7).
318 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3125(a)(8).
418 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 6301(a)(1)(ii).
518 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3126(a)(8).
618 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3122.1(a)(1).
718 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3125(a)(8).
818 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 6301(a)(1)(ii).
918 Pa.C.S.A. [§] 3126(a)(8).
On July 17, 2014, [the Price brothers] separately filed their Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and/or Motion to Quash Information. Subsequently, on August 13, 2014, the Commonwealth's Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was docketed. The Commonwealth filed a motion on August 12, 2014 to consolidate the cases for trial, which was denied by this Court on December 1, 2014 as the charges against [the Price brothers] involved two separate incidents and, thus, two separate crimes had been alleged. On December 23, 2014, we reserved our decision on the habeas corpus motions. Then, on April 16, 2015, we issued an Order and an Opinion denying [the Price brothers]' motions for habeas corpus relief. On December 28, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a Motion in Limine seeking to preclude counsel for [the Price brothers] from arguing to a jury the same age-gap theory that had undergirded [the Price brothers]' habeas corpus petitions and which this Court had denied. One day later, we granted the Commonwealth's Motion in Limine. Then, on January 19, 2016, we received Notice from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that [the Price brothers] had submitted Petitions for Writ of Prohibition. These petitions were ultimately denied on May 5, 2016. On February 3, 2017, [the Price brothers] proceeded to a bench trial with each Appellant convicted of Count 1 of their ...

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