Com. v. Camperson

Decision Date16 September 1992
Citation612 A.2d 482,417 Pa.Super. 280
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant, v. Stephen CAMPERSON, Appellee.
CourtPennsylvania Superior Court

Nicholas J. Casenta, Jr., Downingtown, for the Com., appellant.

Robert J. Donatoni, West Chester, for appellee.


WIEAND, Judge:

Stephen Camperson was charged with drug related offenses based upon contraband seized from his home pursuant to warrant on December 7, 1989. Probable cause for the warrant had been obtained via criminal conduct in which Camperson had engaged earlier on the same day. The trial court, in response to a defense motion in limine, barred testimony of Camperson's earlier criminal conduct during the Commonwealth's case in chief against Camperson in the trial for drugs found in his home. The Commonwealth, certifying that the trial court's order substantially handicapped its prosecution of Camperson, filed the instant appeal. 1

On December 6, 1989, Brian Wynn was arrested for selling methamphetamine to an undercover police officer in Montgomery County. He told police that he had obtained the controlled substance from Stephen Camperson. On December 7, 1989, Wynn met with Camperson under police surveillance and delivered to him, in exchange for a promise to deliver drugs, the sum of $3500, which had been provided by the police. Arrangements were made for delivery to take place at 5:00 p.m. at the Country Tavern in Chester County. Camperson was kept under police surveillance throughout the day; and after he had stopped at his home and while on his way to meet Wynn, the police attempted to stop him in his vehicle. A lengthy chase ensued in which Camperson was not apprehended until he exited his vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. When apprehended, he was found to be in possession of 238.8 grams of methamphetamine and the $3500 which had been given to him by Wynn. For this conduct, Camperson was charged, under Information No. 178-90, with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and recklessly endangering another person.

After a subsequent search of Camperson's home, he was charged additionally, under Information No. 3108-90, with escape, possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. A motion to consolidate the two informations for trial was denied. Thereafter, in March, 1991, Camperson was tried non-jury and was found guilty of the offenses charged at 178-90. He then moved to prevent the Commonwealth from using evidence of the offenses of which he had been found guilty during the trial for offenses charged at No. 3108-90. Pursuant thereto, the trial court entered an order as follows:

AND NOW, to wit, this 22nd day of May, 1991, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion in Limine it is hereby ORDERED and DIRECTED that the portion of the Motion which seeks to preclude the Commonwealth from introducing evidence at its case in chief at the trial of Information No. 3108-90 of the conduct that gave rise to the charges in Information No. 178-90 or the conviction on the charges in Information No. 178-90 is hereby GRANTED.

On appeal, the Commonwealth argues that the evidence of Camperson's criminal activity earlier in the day is "strongly probative of the defendant's knowledge of controlled substances in his residence, his power and intent to control those substances, and his possession of those substances with the intent to deliver."

The law applicable to evidence of prior criminal activity was stated by the Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Billa, 521 Pa. 168, 555 A.2d 835 (1989), as follows:

Evidence of a defendant's distinct crimes are not generally admissible against a defendant solely to show his bad character or his propensity for committing criminal acts, as proof of the commission of one offense is not generally proof of the commission of another. Commonwealth v. Lark, 518 Pa. 290, 543 A.2d 491, 497 (1988). However, this general proscription against admission of a defendant's distinct criminal acts is subject to numerous exceptions where special circumstances exist which render such evidence relevant for some legitimate evidentiary reason and not merely to prejudice the defendant by showing him to be a person of bad character. Some of the exceptions that this Court has recognized in the past as legitimate bases for admitting evidence of a defendant's distinct crimes include (but are not limited to): (1) motive; (2) intent; (3) absence of mistake or accident; (4) a common scheme, plan or design embracing commission of two or more crimes so related to each other that proof of one naturally tends to prove the others; (5) to establish the identity of the person charged with the commission of the crime on trial where there is such a logical connection between the crimes that proof of one will naturally tend to show that the accused is the person who committed the other; (6) to impeach the credibility of a defendant who testifies in his trial; (7) situations where defendant's prior criminal history had been used by him to threaten or intimidate the victim; (8) situations where the distinct crimes were part of a chain or sequence of events which formed the history of the case and were part of its natural development (sometimes called "res gestae" exception). See Commonwealth v. Lark, supra 518 Pa. at 302, 543 A.2d at 497 and cases cited therein, and Commonwealth v. Randall, 515 Pa. 410, 528 A.2d 1326 (1987).

Id. 521 Pa. at 177, 555 A.2d at 840. See also: Commonwealth v. Grekis, 411 Pa.Super. 513, 531, 601 A.2d 1284, 1293 (1992); Commonwealth v. Bybel, 399 Pa.Super. 149, 154-155, 581 A.2d 1380, 1382-1383 (1990). Cf. Commonwealth v. Martinez, 301 Pa.Super. 121, 447 A.2d 272 (1982). In Commonwealth v. Harvey, 348 Pa.Super. 544, 502 A.2d 679 (1985), the Superior Court added:

"To be admissible to show intent or motive, the evidence must give sufficient ground to believe that the crime currently being considered grew out of or was in any way caused by the prior set of facts and circumstances." Commonwealth v. Brown, supra 280 Pa.Super. at [417 Pa.Super. 285] 308, 421 A.2d at 736, citing Commonwealth v. Schwartz, 445 Pa. 515, 285 A.2d 154 (1971). There must be a logical connection between the prior incident and the crime for which the accused is being tried. Important factors to be considered in making this determination include the proximity in time between the incidents; the similarity in the circumstances surrounding the incidents; and whether evidence of the prior crime is necessary to rebut the accused's evidence or contention of accident, mistake or lack of required intent. See: Commonwealth v. Sparks, supra 342 Pa.Super. at 206, 492 A.2d at 722 [ (1985) ]; Commonwealth v. Barba, supr...

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9 cases
  • Com. v. Camperson
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • November 2, 1994
    ...Appellant has no basis for complaint. A contrary result is not mandated by the Superior Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Camperson, 417 Pa.Super. 280, 612 A.2d 482 (1992), allocatur denied, 533 Pa. 642, 622 A.2d 1374 (1993). In that case, Camperson was to be tried for possession of the d......
  • Commonwealth v. Kinard
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • March 4, 2014
    ...currently being considered grew out of or was in any way caused by the prior set of facts and circumstances.” Commonwealth v. Camperson, 417 Pa.Super. 280, 612 A.2d 482, 484 (1992) (emphasis added). In this case, the Commonwealth presented no evidence that Aguado's conviction “grew out of o......
  • Com. v. McCall
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • December 19, 2001
    ...court's determination regarding the admissibility of evidence of prior crimes absent an abuse of discretion. Commonwealth v. Camperson, 417 Pa.Super. 280, 612 A.2d 482 (1992). As a general rule, evidence of a separate crime is inadmissible. Commonwealth v. Hall, 523 Pa. 75, 565 A.2d 144 (19......
  • Com. v. Aguado
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • October 6, 2000
    ...currently being considered grew out of or was in any way caused by the prior set of facts and circumstances."Commonwealth v. Camperson, 417 Pa.Super. 280, 612 A.2d 482, 484 (1992) (emphasis added). In this case, the Commonwealth presented no evidence that Aguado's conviction "grew out of or......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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