Commonwealth v. Conklin, 1141 MDA 2021

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Citation275 A.3d 1087
Docket Number1141 MDA 2021
Parties COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Shawn C. CONKLIN, Appellant
Decision Date18 May 2022

275 A.3d 1087

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
Shawn C. CONKLIN, Appellant

No. 1141 MDA 2021

Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Submitted April 18, 2022
Filed May 18, 2022

Paul P. Ackourey, Tunkhannock, for appellant.

Timothy J. Carroll Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Tunkhannock, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jeffrey Mitchell, Assistant District Attorney, Tunkhannock, for Commonwealth, appellee.



Appellant, Shawn C. Conklin, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Wyoming County after he pled guilty to three counts of Aggravated Assault committed during his unprovoked knife attack on family and friends in his residence. After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court opinion sets forth the relevant facts and procedural history, as follows:

On April 19, 2015, an Affidavit of Probable Cause was filed setting forth that on April 18, 2015, at 10:38 p.m., a 911 call was received at the Wyoming County 911 Center from a man named Matt Christofferson, stating his uncle was
275 A.3d 1090
running around the residence stabbing people.

Police and EMS arrived on scene at 10:48 p.m. and were met by multiple people yelling for help. The police were informed that the suspect was inside and may still be stabbing people. Officers entered the residence and announced their presence.

The suspect, later identified as Shawn Conklin (hereafter ["Appellant"]), came out from a hallway and surrendered to police and was taken into custody. The police observed blood stains on the clothing of the Appellant as well as blood stains on multiple locations throughout the inside and outside of the residence. The police observed a victim lying in the hallway behind the Appellant along with a knife by the victim's head. The knife was a folding hunting knife and was also covered in blood.

On April 19, 2015, at 1:40 a.m., the homeowner Selee Conklin, sister of the Appellant, was interviewed by the Police. She advised there were eleven people in the residence at the time of the incident. Selee was sleeping in the basement at the time the stabbing started and was awoken by people screaming for help and yelling to call 911.

A seventeen-year-old female, hereinafter referred to as L.C., was interviewed by the police and stated she was in the basement of the residence, and when she went upstairs she observed the Appellant stabbing his wife Karen Conklin. Karen was on the couch at the time and Appellant was behind Karen stabbing her. L.C. then ran outside. When she went back into the residence another seventeen-year-old female, hereinafter referred to as S.S., was with her. Once in the hallway, L.C. attempted to call 911 but was unsuccessful. When she looked up from her phone she observed Appellant stab S.S. in the face, shoulders, and stomach.

Then L.C.’s father attempted to stop Appellant from stabbing S.S. As a result of this, S.S. was able to escape and jump out of a bedroom window. L.C. then observed Appellant stab her father. At this time, L.C. was on the phone with 911 and yelling at Appellant to stop stabbing her father. L.C. then ran outside and did not go back into the residence.

At approximately 1:30 a.m., the police conducted a cursory check of the exterior of the residence and observed blood droplets around a vehicle and a large amount of blood on the inside of the passenger side of the vehicle. Matt Christofferson's injuries observed by the EMS at the scene included multiple stab wounds from his neck to his torso. Injuries were determined to be life threatening.

Appellant was interviewed by the police, wherein his Miranda rights were read to him and Appellant signed a waiver form and consented to be interviewed. Appellant admitted to the police that he repeatedly stabbed his wife, Karen Conklin, as she sat on the couch. Appellant further admitted to stabbing his brother-in-law Harold Chistofferson.1 Additionally, Appellant admitted that he stabbed [S.S.] because she jumped on Appellant's back which prevented him from continuing to stab Harold. Appellant further stated that "if I had a gun I would have sprayed them all."
275 A.3d 1091
On April 22, 2015, the police spoke with Appellant's wife, Karen Conklin at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center regarding the investigation. Karen advised she and the Defendant had an argument early Sunday. She spent the day away from Appellant shopping and upon returning to the residence that evening she sat on the couch and Appellant sat next to her, so she got up to move. She then sat between her son and her nephew, both minors, so Appellant could not be near her. Appellant then went to the back of the couch behind her and proceeded to stab her. Karen advised she did not know she was being stabbed at the time she thought Appellant was punching her in the face. Karen stated Appellant was angry and quiet prior to the attack and the attack came out of nowhere.

Appellant then stopped stabbing her for unknown reasons and Karen felt blood rushing down her face. She then went out the backdoor of the residence to get away from Appellant and sat in a van located in the driveway. While leaving the residence, Karen observed Appellant holding someone in the hallway by the bathroom. She related that the person was pretty bloody. While in the van, Karen told her niece and nephew, both minors, to call 911.

While at the hospital, the police observed Karen to have a cut on her right cheek and chin, along with lacerations on both triceps, left elbow, and her left hand. Karen's right wrist was also bandaged. She related that she was stabbed on both breasts and had a total of ten to eleven stab wounds. She was unable to provide a written statement at that time due to her arms being injured, but related when she was released from the hospital that she would provide the police with a written statement and follow up interview.


Thereafter, on January 7, 2016, a Criminal Information was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Wyoming County docket number 472-2015, charging Appellant with [three counts of Criminal Attempt/Murder Third Degree, 1 three counts of Criminal Attempt/Criminal Homicide, 2 three counts of Criminal Attempt/Voluntary Manslaughter, 3 six counts of Aggravated Assault, 4 and three counts of Simple Assault. 5]

Fn 1 18 Pa.C.S. § 901(a), 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502(c).

Fn 2 18 Pa.C.S. § 901(a), 18 Pa.C.S. 2501(a).

Fn 3 18 Pa.C.S. § 901(a), 18 Pa.C.S. 2503(a)(1).

Fn 4 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(a)(1) and (a)(4).

Fn 5 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701(a)(1).

Defense Counsel and the Commonwealth each motioned the trial court to have a mental evaluation completed on Appellant to determine if Appellant was competent to stand trial. Said motions were granted and by Order dated August 17, 2015, upon receipt and review of said evaluations performed by Dr. Richard Fischbein and Dr. Brett DiGiovanna for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, it was determined Appellant was competent to stand trial.

Appellant pled guilty but mentally ill on January 8, 2016, to count one Criminal Attempt/Murder of the Third Degree, a felony in the first degree, and count ten and count eleven Aggravated Assault, felonies in the first degree.

After review of an extensive Pre-Sentence Investigation Report, which included the mental health evaluation, Appellant was sentenced on February 10, 2016, [to an aggregate sentence of 360 to 720 months’ imprisonment, which comprised
275 A.3d 1092
consecutively run, standard range sentences of 240 to 480 months for attempted murder of the third degree, and 60 to 120 months for each of two counts of aggravated assault.] The consecutive sentences were imposed due to three separate victims.

On or about February 16, 2016, Defense Counsel filed a Post-Sentence Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence & Motion for mental Health Determination and to Vacate Sentence. Said motion was denied due to the reports of Richard E. Fischbein, M.D. and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reports finding that Appellant was not severely mentally disabled at the time of sentence. [No direct appeal was filed].

Trial Court Opinion, 10/7/21, at 1-6.

Appellant filed a [timely] pro se PCRA [petition] on June 28, 2016, alleging, inter alia , that counsel never filed a requested direct appeal and that the trial court failed to consider his guilty, but mentally ill, plea at sentencing. After the appointment of counsel, but before an amended counseled petition was filed, the PCRA court held a hearing during which the parties stipulated that Appellant was entitled to a new sentencing hearing because the trial court did not hear testimony and make a finding on the issue of whether Appellant at the time of sentencing was severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 9727(a), P.S. §§ 7101-7503. The PCRA court, therefore, entered an order remanding for completion of a supplemental Mental Health Evaluation of Appellant, to be followed by a resentencing hearing.

On remand, the trial court conducted a resentencing hearing on November 16, 2017. Based on both the testimony of a forensic psychologist and the agreement of counsel, the trial court determined Appellant was "severely mentally disabled [ ] and in need of treatment pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act."...

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2 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Brolly, 2720 EDA 2022
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 25 Mayo 2023
    ...regarding the defendant's character and weighed those considerations along with mitigating statutory factors." Commonwealth v. Conklin, 275 A.3d 1087, 1098 (Pa. Super. 2022) (citation omitted). "[W]here the court has been so informed, its discretion should not be disturbed." Commonwealth v.......
  • Commonwealth v. Gardopee, 186 WDA 2022
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 28 Octubre 2022
    ...regarding the defendant's character and weighed those considerations along with mitigating statutory factors." Commonwealth v. Conklin , 275 A.3d 1087, 1098 (Pa. Super. 2022) (citation omitted). Crucially, Appellant's 2119(f) statement fails to either identify the manner in which the senten......

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