from the Judgment of Sentence March 28, 2018 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: PANELLA, P.J., GANTMAN, P.J.E., and PELLEGRINI
Lineman appeals from the judgment of sentence entered
following his conviction for Violation of the Uniform
Firearms Act, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105 ("VUFA").
Lineman contends his conviction was against the sufficiency
and weight of the evidence presented at trial. We affirm.
November 27, 2017, Lineman appeared for a waiver trial on
charges of illegally possessing a firearm. The trial court
summarized the facts of this case as follows.
On May 17, 2017, Philadelphia Police Officer Brian Benz was
on routine patrol when he received a radio call indicating
that a male was screaming for assistance in the area of
6th and Cumberland Streets in Philadelphia. The
officer proceeded to that location and observed [Lineman] and
another male struggling on the ground. [Lineman] was lying on
the ground and the other male was on top of him. Officer Benz
ordered the male to get off of [Lineman]. As [Lineman] began
to stand Officer Benz heard the sound of metal scraping the
ground, drawing the officer's attention to
[Lineman's] hand. In his hand, Officer Benz saw an Uzi
handgun. The officer immediately pushed [Lineman] to the
ground at which time another police officer kicked the gun
from [Lineman's] hand.Officer [Benz] testified that [Lineman]
was holding the gun as if preparing to shoot
someone. [Lineman] said nothing, appeared to be
under the influence, and had a strong chemical odor emanating
from him. In addition, [Lineman] was bleeding from
his face and was taken for treatment by medical personnel.
Calvin Bonaparte, the other male, did not talk to police and
he appeared uninjured. Bonaparte left after it was determined
that there was no reason to hold him. By way of a
stipulation, the parties agreed that [Lineman] was not
eligible to possess a firearm.
[Lineman] testified in his own defense, stating that on the
day of the incident he and Bonaparte, a long-time
acquaintance, planned to share a bottle of liquor when
Bonaparte began acting strangely while driving in
[Lineman's] vehicle. [Lineman] told Bonaparte that he
decided to drive him home.
According to [Lineman], Bonaparte pulled out a gun. [Lineman]
then asked Bonaparte what was up and Bonaparte hit him in the
face with the gun, breaking his nose and cutting him. After
Bonaparte struck him, [Lineman] attempted to wrestle the gun
away from him. [Lineman] testified that he yelled for help
and managed to get the better of Bonaparte. Once he did so,
he opened the door to the car and both men tumbled out with
Bonaparte landing on top. The police arrived while the two
men were fighting.
Trial Court Opinion, filed 9/27/2018, at 2-3 (internal
conclusion of the trial, the parties were permitted to file
memoranda outlining their respective positions concerning the
applicability of the defense of duress to a possessory
offense. After receiving memoranda from both parties, the
court noted that it believed the defense of duress was
available to Lineman, but nonetheless found him guilty based
on a credibility determination. Lineman filed a motion for
extraordinary relief, which was denied by the trial court. He
was then sentenced to three to seven years'
incarceration. Lineman filed a post-sentence motion
challenging the sufficiency and weight of the evidence, which
was denied. This timely appeal followed.
first issue on appeal, Lineman asserts the evidence was
insufficient to convict him of VUFA as he testified to a
belief he acted in self-defense.
trial court found the issue waived as it concluded Lineman
did not present it at trial. On appeal, the Commonwealth
continues to press for waiver. The Commonwealth asserts that
Lineman only presented the defense of duress at trial and
blurs the lines between of self-defense, justification and
duress in his brief. However, Lineman included case law on
self-defense and justification for possessory offenses in his
letter brief to the trial court prior to sentencing, as well
as in his motion for extraordinary relief. Thus, we will
address the issue on its merits.
standard of review for a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence is to determine whether, when viewed in a light most
favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner, the evidence
at trial and all reasonable inferences therefrom are
sufficient for the trier of fact to find that each element of
the crimes charged is established beyond a reasonable doubt.
See Commonwealth v. Dale, 836 A.2d 150, 152 (Pa.
Super. 2003). "The Commonwealth may sustain its burden
of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence."
Commonwealth v. Bruce, 916 A.2d 657, 661 (Pa. Super.
2007) (citation omitted).
facts and circumstances established by the Commonwealth need
not preclude every possibility of innocence."
Id. (citation omitted). "As an appellate court,
we do not assess credibility nor do we assign weight to any
of the testimony of record." Commonwealth v.
Kinney, 863 A.2d 581, 584 (Pa. Super. 2004). Therefore,
we will not disturb the verdict "unless the evidence is
so weak and inconclusive that as a matter of law no
probability of fact may be drawn from the combined
circumstances." Bruce, 916 A.2d at 661
(citation omitted). Furthermore, a mere conflict in the
testimony of the witnesses does not render the evidence