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Commonwealth v. Bennett

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

December 23, 2019


          Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered February 9, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0003953-2016

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., STABILE, J., and STEVENS, P.J.E. [*]


          STEVENS, P.J.E.

         Appellant, Shakree S. Bennett, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia after a jury found him guilty on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse ("IDSI"), robbery, and possessing instruments of crime ("PIC"). Sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 22 ½ to 45 years' incarceration, Appellant contends the trial court violated his right to confront the witnesses against him and erroneously denied his motion for mistrial. We affirm.

         The trial court opinion sets forth the pertinent facts, as follows:

On September 28, 2015, at about 11:30 p.m., Philadelphia Police Officer Gerard Brennan was on patrol training another officer in the area of Temple University, when he received a radio call directing him to go to the 1400 block of Carlisle Street to investigate reports of a woman screaming and a rape. The officer immediately proceeded to that location and encountered S.D., the complainant herein, who was in an ambulance being treated by emergency medical personnel.
Officer Brennan received information from the complainant concerning what the alleged assailant was wearing and that he was armed with a silver gun, which the officer put out over police radio. The complainant described the assailant as being a black male, in his twenties, about six feet tall and wearing a green jacket or vest, blue jeans, and a long black t-shirt. She further related that the assault occurred about thirty yards from where the officer encountered her. The officer then had the complainant exit the ambulance and took her to the headquarters of the Police Department's Special Victim's Unit (hereinafter SVU). Officer Brennan left the Unit after the complainant's parent arrived.
S.D., a student at Temple University, had spent the night of the incident studying at the library, which she left at about 11:00 p.m., with members of her study group. After stopping to buy a cookie, she left her friends at Broad and Cecil B. Avenue and then walked alone a half block north to Carlisle Street where her apartment was located.
When S.D. reached Jefferson Street and was crossing it, she heard the sound of footsteps on Jefferson Street going west from Broad Street. She turned around at which time a black male grabbed her and hit her on the arm with a small silver hand gun. The male then [directed] her to a desolate area. She screamed, but the male, who still was brandishing the gun told her to be quiet.
The male then rifled through her backpack and wallet, and after taking some items from it including her cell phone, he told S.D. to take off her clothes. She did as ordered and the male put on a condom and anally raped her.fn
Fn. Video surveillance cameras at various locations recorded S.D. as she proceeded toward her apartment.
S.D. cried while this was occurring and the male ordered [her] to stop and moan. After about seven or eight minutes, the assailant stopped anally raping S.D. and pulled up his pants. After S.D. Put her clothes back on, the assailant ordered her to go in a direction toward her apartment and he went down Jefferson Street. S.D. indicated that the male was wearing jeans, a hat and a "greyish-green jacket-vest thing." S.D. entered her apartment and directed one of her roommates to call the police. Officer Brennan arrived shortly thereafter and took her to the S.V.U.
Once at the S.V.U., S.D. was examined by a nurse and a Rape Kit was prepared after which she gave Detective Kimberly Organ a statement. Detective Organ then drove S.D. back to Temple University and had her repeat the route she walked home from the library and the location where the rape occurred. Two days thereafter, detectives came to her apartment and showed her still photographs produced from video recordings taken the night of the incident for the purpose of ascertaining whether she could identify [her assailant from the video and photographs]. Upon viewing the videos, S.D. positively identified a male depicted in them as the person who sexually assaulted her. S.D. identified him by his physical features and the clothing he was wearing.fn
Fn. After identifying Appellant in the photograph, S.D. told her mother that she was positive that Appellant was the person who assaulted her.
On October 9, 2015, S.D. took part in a photographic identification session. Upon reviewing the photographs, she selected a photograph of Appellant because the photograph of him that she saw most resembled her assailant because the facial hair and complexion was right. When she selected the photograph she said that she was not one hundred percent sure and wanted to look at additional photographs. She did not change her mind or select another photograph upon reviewing additional photos, and thereafter positively and with certainty identified Appellant at his preliminary hearing and during trial before [the trial] court as the person who raped her.
Dr. Ralph Riviello, a professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University, and an affiliate of Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center, reviewed medical records pertaining to the examination of S.D. the night of the incident that was performed by Nurse Jenika Miles. The examination of S.D. consisted of an interview concerning the incident, a physical examination, and the collection of biological materials from her body, which are then turned over to the police for further examination and testing. The physical examination of S.D. ...

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