from the Judgment of Sentence March 27, 2017 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: GANTMAN, P.J., OLSON, J., and STEVENS, [*] P.J.E.
Khalif Thomas, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered
in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County after a
jury convicted him of one count each of murder in the first
degree, carrying a firearm without a license, and possessing
an instrument of crime. Sentenced to a mandatory sentence of
life in prison on the murder charge, with an aggregate
sentence of 4 ½ to 12 years' incarceration on the
remaining charges, Appellant raises challenges to the
admission of evidence, to the court's application of
Pa.R.E. 106 during trial, and to the sufficiency and the
weight of the evidence. We affirm.
trial court's Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion sets forth the
pertinent facts of the case, as follows:
At trial, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of
Philadelphia Police Officers Christopher Noga, Crain Perry,
Ann Brown, Darnell Jessie, Kevin Palmer, Robert Stott,
Vincent Luu, and Maurice Smith, Philadelphia Police
Detectives Darryl Pearson and Laura Hammond, Philadelphia
Police Sergeant Francis Kelly, Philadelphia Deputy Medical
Examiner Dr. Albert Chu, and Dianna Garfield, Shatyrah
Garfield, Karee Freeman, Eric McDowell, and Khalil Hall.
Defendant [hereinafter "Appellant"] presented no
testimony, but offered into evidence a letter written by
Karee Freeman. Viewed in the light most favorable to the
Commonwealth as the verdict winner, the evidence established
During the evening hours of December 30, 2015, Appellant, the
victim, Naeem Garfield, and a few other men were playing dice
on the corner of Salford and Market Streets in Philadelphia.
N.T. 3/21/17 at 207. Eventually, the men moved their game a
short distance away to Redfield Street. Id; N.T.
3/22/17 at 67. During the game, some players became angry
that Garfield was cheating and winning. N.T. 3/21/17 at 135;
N.T. 3/22/17 at 40. At one point, a player, Eric Flowers,
angrily walked away from the game, and Appellant went over to
him and said, "It's cool, man. It's cool. We
gonna handle it man." N.T. 3/21/17 at 135, 147.
Sometime after, while Garfield was bending over to roll the
dice, Appellant fired a shot at him from behind, causing him
to fall to the ground. Id. at 207-208; N.T. 3/22/17
at 70, 77-78. Appellant then shot Garfield two more times in
his face. N.T. 3/21/17 at 208. Multiple witnesses were on the
scene at the time of the shooting. They included Karee
Freeman, who was a participant in the dice game and just down
the street, and Eric McDowell, who was across the street,
approximately a half-block away. N.T. 3/21/17 at 207-208;
N.T. 3/22/17 at 66, 102.
At the time of the shooting, Philadelphia Police Officers
were responding to a burglary call on the 100-block of
Redfield Street, when they heard gunshots coming from the
south on Redfield. N.T. 3/21/17 at 74. Officers proceeded to
the scene and found Garfield [lying] on his back in front of
43 North Redfield, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound
to the head. Id. Garfield was in fact shot three
times: twice in the head and once in the back of the neck.
N.T. 3/22/17 at 11-13. Philadelphia Police Officers
transported him to Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia,
where he was later pronounced dead. N.T. 3/21/17 at 67, 75.
Trial Court Opinion, filed 10/20/17, at 2-4.
Appellant's conviction, sentencing, and the denial of his
post-sentence motion, he filed this timely notice of
appeal. The trial court directed Appellant to file
a concise statement of matters complained of on appeal, and
Appellant complied. In turn, the trial court has supplied us
with its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion.
Appellant's brief submitted to this Court, he presents
the following questions for our consideration:
I. [DID] THE COURT ERR IN ADMITTING EVIDENCE THAT
HAD A PREJUDICIAL EFFECT THAT FAR OUTWEIGHED ANY PROBATIVE
II. [DID] THE COURT ABUSE ITS DISCRETION APPLYING
THE RULE OF COMPLETENESS[?]
III. [WAS] THE VERDICT . . . AGAINST THE SUFFICIENCY
AND/OR WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE[?]
Appellant's brief, at 1.
Appellant's first issue, he charges error with the
court's admission of evidence, over defense objection,
that Karee Freeman and he were incarcerated in the same jail
two months before trial. Allowing such evidence "created
an inference that Appellant had a criminal background making
him appear more likely than not the person responsible for
Mr. Garfield's murder because he was incarcerated[,
]" Appellant maintains. Appellant's brief at 3. Also
unfairly prejudicial, Appellant contends, was the question
put to Mr. Freeman about whether "prisoners look
favorably on a fellow prisoner like you testifying for the
Commonwealth?" N.T. 3/21/17, at 244-47.
Commonwealth sought to admit this evidence in response to
Freeman's written recantation of his earlier videotaped
statement in which he had described, in detail, how he
witnessed Appellant shoot and kill Garfield. Specifically,
the Commonwealth argued the timing of Freeman's letter of
recantation, which he made within one month of his placement
in the same institution as Appellant, supported the inference
that the recantation was the product of Appellant's
intimidation of a key Commonwealth witness. As such, the
Commonwealth claimed the evidence was ...