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Commonwealth v. Perez
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
June 5, 2018
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Appellant
from the Order April 5, 2017 In the Court of Common Pleas of
Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: PANELLA, J., LAZARUS, J., and STRASSBURGER [*] , J.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ("Commonwealth")
appeals from the order, entered after Carlos Perez's
second preliminary hearing, dismissing the criminal charges
against him. The trial court twice concluded that the
Commonwealth failed to establish a prima facie case
that Perez committed the offenses of first-degree
murder and possession of an instrument of
crime ("PIC"). We conclude that the
Commonwealth's appeal is interlocutory, and thus, we
trial court set forth the facts of this case as follows:
On August 21, 2016, [Andrew Hazleton] arrived at the Bleu
Martini with Hector Martinez after drinking on the waterfront
in New Jersey. . . . Martinez saw a man in a gray shirt
sitting in a [booth] . . . who [sic] he identified as [Perez]
at [Perez's first] preliminary hearing.
Marquis McNair was working the inside front door as a bouncer
on August 21, 2016. Around 1:50 a[.]m[.], McNair and his
fellow bouncer witnessed a "little push match"
between two groups of people. The pushing match occurred in a
small side room to the left of the club entrance, which had
two C[-]shaped booths along the right wall, and a bench along
the back wall under the window. When the pushing match
occurred, there were no more than 30 people in the area.
McNair and his fellow bouncer ended the pushing match easily,
and two of the men involved said[, ] "like we know each
other, " "we friends, " and "we cool, we
cool." These two men were [Perez] and [Hazleton].
McNair and the other bouncer then stood about fifteen feet
away from the two groups, in an area where they had a clear
line of sight. Within a few minutes, another, more
aggressive, pushing match occurred. The bouncers moved
quickly to stop the second pushing match and McNair put
himself between [Perez] and [Hazleton], while the other
bouncer moved others in the area toward the door.
A few seconds after the bouncer broke up the second pushing
match, McNair heard a woman scream in the crowd "they
cut him." McNair then turned to [Hazleton] and saw him
holding his neck. [Hazleton] removed his hand from his neck
and blood gushed out of his neck and onto the floor. McNair
also saw blood on his fellow bouncer's suit. McNair was
unaware if anyone else got blood on them, or where [Perez]
was located at this time, because his focus was on
[Hazleton]. At this point, [Hazleton] walked past McNair and
outside of the club.
McNair did not see [Hazleton] get stabbed. McNair did not see
any weapon in [Perez's] hands, including when he got in
the middle of [Perez] and [Hazleton] during the second
pushing match. McNair testified that he would have been able
to see if [Perez] was holding an object, regardless of the
movement of [Perez's] and [Hazleton's] hands during
the pushing matches. At no point did McNair see a weapon or
any broken glass that could have been used to inflict
Martinez did not witness either pushing match, or any
interaction between [Perez] and [Hazleton]. After he saw
[Perez] get up from the booth and walk towards the group of
dancers, he did not notice anything else until the bouncers
quickly walked by him to break up the group. When [Hazleton]
walked by him on his way out of the club, Martinez followed.
Once outside, [Hazleton] removed his hands from his throat
and more blood poured out. Martinez saw that [Hazleton] had
been stabbed and Martinez "went berserk." He turned
to go back in the club. As he tried to reenter, [Perez]
attempted to leave the club. Martinez saw that [Perez] had
blood on his shirt and assumed that he was the one who
stabbed [Hazleton]. Martinez said to [Perez] "what did
you do to my friend" and punched him in the face.
[Perez] did not respond, but went back inside the club.
* * *
After the stabbing, McNair was helping the rest of the staff
clear out the club when he saw [Perez] sitting at a booth by
himself. [Perez] was only wearing a tank top, which is
against club policy. McNair asked [Perez] where his shirt was
and he responded that he had thrown it out in the bathroom
because it had gotten blood on it in the earlier incident.
McNair then walked [Perez] to the bathroom, made him retrieve
the bloody shirt, returned him to the booth, and then
continued to help the rest of the staff. McNair last saw
[Perez] talking to police, while handcuffed, with his shirt
on his shoulder.
Officer Stone was alerted to a stabbing at the Bleu Martini
by a passerby while he was standing at 2nd and
Chestnut Street. After calling medics and waiting for
[Hazleton] to be taken by ambulance to a hospital, Officer
Stone entered the Bleu Martini and [Perez] was pointed out to
him. Officer Stone was told that [Perez] was not allowed to
leave because he owed $600.00 on his tab and had been in the
group involved in the earlier "fight."
Officer Stone approached [Perez] and asked him what had
happened. [Perez] originally denied being a part of the
fight, but after several questions, admitted to being punched
in the face earlier that night. When asked where his shirt
was, [Perez] pulled the bloody shirt from behind him in the
booth and showed it to Officer Stone. Officer Stone saw no
blood on [Perez's] hands, or anywhere else on his body.
Officer Stone also never saw an object that could have
inflicted the injury sustained by the victim. Officer Stone
reported what he found to the detectives and was told to
bring [Perez] to Central Detectives. [Perez] was released
from Central Detectives and was not arrested in connection
with the stabbing until February 23, 2017.
* * *
[Hazleton] sustained a stab wound in the neck, specifically
the internal jugular vein on the left side at the carotid
artery and ...
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