Commonwealth v. Corbett

Decision Date22 April 2021
Docket NumberJ-A02041-21,No. 263 WDA 2020,263 WDA 2020
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA v. FRANCES CORBETT Appellant
CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
FRANCES CORBETT Appellant

J-A02041-21
No. 263 WDA 2020

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

April 22, 2021


NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION - SEE SUPERIOR COURT I.O.P. 65.37

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered January 23, 2020
In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-02-CR-0008833-2019

BEFORE: BOWES, J., NICHOLS, J., and McLAUGHLIN, J.

MEMORANDUM BY McLAUGHLIN, J.:

Frances Corbett appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed following her convictions for two counts of driving under the influence of a controlled substance ("DUI"). See 75 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 3802(d)(1), 3802(d)(2). Corbett argues the evidence was insufficient to prove she had driven a vehicle while she was intoxicated. We affirm.

At Corbett's non-jury trial, the Commonwealth put into evidence1 the testimony of Officer Nicklas Hawk of the Blawnox Police Department. Officer Hawk testified that on June 2, 2019, he responded to a 911 call for a suspected overdose. See Trial Court Opinion, filed May 12, 2020, at 3 (footnotes omitted). The caller stated that there was a woman sitting in the driver's seat

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of a car, slumped out of the window. N.T. at 50-51. Officer Hawk "arrived within thirty (30) to forty-five (45) seconds and observed [Corbett] fully outside the vehicle but leaning against it with the car keys in her right hand." Trial Court Op. at 3 (footnotes omitted). The car was registered to Corbett's boyfriend. Id. The engine was off, and the car was legally parked alongside a public road. N.T. at 10-11, 19.

Officer Hawk testified that Corbett told him "that she had come from Walmart and Giant Eagle and had just dropped off a friend at a housing complex." Trial Court Op. at 3 (footnotes omitted). Officer Hawk later confirmed that the friend to whom Corbett referred, Heather Burke, lived in an apartment complex located one block away from where the car was parked. N.T. at 46. When defense counsel asked Officer Hawk on cross examination whether Corbett actually admitted that she had been driving, Officer Hawk responded, "Yeah, she stated that she had just dropped her friend Heather off," but clarified that Corbett "did not come out and say, 'Hey, I was driving.'" Id. at 9, 44.

When asked whether Officer Hawk could determine what time the vehicle had been parked, Officer Hawk responded, "Actually, she told me that she had just gotten there. She had just dropped her friend Heather off because she was at Walmart and Giant Eagle." Id. at 12.2 "Officer Hawk testified that

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the hood of the vehicle was warm to the touch, and that after receiving consent to search the vehicle, [he] located a plastic grocery bag with an item that was still cold to the touch." Trial Court Op. at 3 (footnotes omitted). Specifically, Officer Hawk testified that when he searched the car, "there was cottage cheese up in the front seat. It was in a Giant Eagle bag that was still cold[.]" N.T. at 17; see also id. at 12, 36-37.

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