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Commonwealth v. Jefferson

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

October 9, 2019

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
NYJEE JEFFERSON Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
NYJEE JEFFERSON Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
NYJEE JEFFERSON Appellant

          Appeal from the Order Entered March 28, 2017 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0012233-2015, CP-51-CR-0012234-2015

          Appeal from the Order Dated March 28, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0012235-2015

          BEFORE: BOWES, J., KUNSELMAN, J., and FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.

          OPINION

          BOWES, J.

         Nyjee Jefferson appeals from the March 28, 2017 order denying his motion to bar prosecution pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 110 on double jeopardy grounds.[1] We affirm.

         The relevant facts were summarized by this Court in the prior appeal from the notes of testimony at the joint preliminary hearing.

Briefly, the testimony established that on October 19, 2015, a civilian observed Appellant and another individual in the backyard of a home located at 819 E. Rittenhouse Street. The civilian, who lived in the neighborhood and knew the homeowner, did not recognize the two men. After a brief conversation, Appellant and the other individual entered a vehicle and left. The civilian called 911 to report the incident and supplied the license plate. For purposes of the preliminary hearing, the parties stipulated that the homeowner did not give Appellant permission to enter the home and that there were pry marks along the metal frame of the door. Appellant was thereafter charged with attempted burglary, criminal mischief, and conspiracy.
Next, the Commonwealth called a resident of 7215 Mansfield Avenue, who testified that on October 19, 2015, at approximately 5:30 p.m., he saw and heard Appellant and another man attempting to break into his home. The resident saw his basement door open, causing him to run outside to flag down a police officer. After finding an officer, he jogged back home and observed Appellant running across the awnings of his home as well as nearby buildings. As a result, Appellant was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, possession of an instrument of crime, and conspiracy.
Finally, the parties stipulated for purposes of the preliminary hearing that Officer Joseph Campbell checked the license plate of a black SUV that was parked in the driveway of the Mansfield Avenue residence. That vehicle had been reported stolen on or about October 14, 2015. As a result, Appellant was charged with receipt of stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and conspiracy.
While these charges were awaiting trial, Appellant was additionally charged at six separate dockets with one count of criminal mischief at each case. The charges stemmed from the aforementioned flight from 7215 Mansfield Avenue, which resulted in Appellant damaging six other awnings. Appellant pleaded guilty to all six cases. The Commonwealth offered the following summary:
[T]he Commonwealth's evidence would show that on or about October 19th of 2015[, ] officers responded to a burglary in progress. When they arrived, they observed the defendant coming out of a second floor window. He attempted to evade the police and in so doing ran on the awnings of several row houses to avoid those police apprehension [sic]. He was apprehended, but in the process of fleeing, he damaged no less than six awnings of six different individuals amounting to several hundred if not thousands of dollars in damage.
N.T. Plea, 9/9/16, at 12. Appellant was sentenced to concurrent terms of eighteen months probation at each docket.

Commonwealth v. Jefferson, 192 A.3d 262 (Pa.Super. 2018) (unpublished memorandum at 1-3).

         On March 8, 2017, Appellant filed motions seeking to bar prosecution of all charges at three criminal dockets: No. 12233-2015; No. 12234-2015; and, No. 12235-2015. For ease of reference, we designate the No. 12233 case, consisting of charges of receiving stolen property, conspiracy, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle related to the theft of the black SUV as "the car case." No. 12234 will be referred to as the "Mansfield Avenue burglary case." Finally, we will refer to the case at No. 12235 as the "Rittenhouse attempted burglary case." Appellant averred that prosecution was barred pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 110(1)(ii), as all three cases arose from the same criminal episode as the six criminal mischief cases for damages to awnings to which Appellant pled guilty in municipal court, which we refer to as "the municipal court awnings cases."

         Following a hearing on March 27 and 28, 2017, the trial court granted partial relief with respect to the criminal mischief charge in the Mansfield Avenue burglary case only. However, the court refused to preclude the prosecution for the burglary at that address, the car case, and the Rittenhouse attempted burglary.

         Appellant appealed that interlocutory order, and this Court determined that it lacked jurisdiction, and remanded for a determination whether the motion was frivolous pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 587(B). The matter was reassigned due to the retirement of the judge who had presided over the motion initially, and the new judge assigned made findings of fact and conclusions of law on November 27, 2018, based on the transcript and exhibits from the earlier hearing. The trial court found that the Rittenhouse attempted burglary case and the car case were unrelated to the municipal court awning cases.[2] Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, 11/28/18, at 4, Nos. 24, 25. It determined further that, despite that finding, "an appellate court could conclude that the temporal proximity of the events [and] the use of the stolen car at both locations . . . is ...


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