Commonwealth v. Crosley, 2049 EDA 2017

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Citation180 A.3d 761
Docket NumberNo. 2049 EDA 2017,2049 EDA 2017
Parties COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Jermaine Dalton CROSLEY, Appellant
Decision Date28 February 2018

180 A.3d 761

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
Jermaine Dalton CROSLEY, Appellant

No. 2049 EDA 2017

Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Submitted January 22, 2018
Filed February 28, 2018

Patrick J. Connors, Public Defender, Media, for appellant.

Steven M. Papi, Media, for appellant.

Katayoun M. Copeland, District Attorney, Media, and Dennis D. Woody, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellee.



Appellant, Jermaine Dalton Crosley, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County after the court, sitting as finder of fact in Appellant's bench trial, found him guilty of, inter alia , third degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Shawn Mitchell. Sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 120 to 300 months' incarceration with a 14–year probationary tail, and ordered to pay $7,864.72 of restitution to the Pennsylvania Victim's Compensation Fund, Appellant files the present appeal raising challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, the admission of prior bad acts evidence, and the propriety of restitution. We affirm.

The trial court aptly sets forth pertinent facts as follows:

The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, [established that the] victim, Shawn Mitchell, lived with his wife and children at 501 Timberlake Road in Upper Darby. N.T., 4/4/17, at 5. In December of 2015, the Defendant [hereinafter "Appellant"] began to live in an outside shed that was attached to 501 Timberlake. Appellant lived in the shed with the Victim's permission. He was not, however, allowed unaccompanied access to the house and did not interact with other members of the Mitchell family. Occasionally, when the nights were cold, Appellant was allowed to sleep in the basement but only when the Victim gave him permission to enter the home. N.T., at 5–7, 26.

On March 12, 2016, at about 2:15 p.m., Nhashara Samuels–Mitchell, the Victim's wife, was preparing to go to work and discussing Appellant's presence in the shed with her husband. The Victim told Ms. Samuels–Mitchell that the Appellant had jumped off a deck that was adjacent to the kitchen to the yard below. Ms. Samuels–Mitchell told her husband that she wanted the Appellant "out" and would not wait any longer. Id. , at 8–26. This conversation took place in the second-floor bathroom. Ms. Samuels–Mitchell
180 A.3d 764
testified that she and her husband owned a gun but that she saw no sign that her husband was armed during their conversation. Id. , at 11, 28.

The Victim left Ms. Samuels–Mitchell and went to the basement. Appellant was in the basement. Ms. Samuels–Mitchell remained in the bathroom and stepped into the shower. While she was in the shower she thought that she heard a gunshot. Id. , at 25–26. She called to her eight year-old daughter, I–Shan, and told her to get her dad. Id. , at 13, 27, 44–48. I–Shan went to the first floor and called out to the Victim. He answered her from the basement. I–Shan started down the basement steps and peeked around a partial wall. She saw two men, Appellant and her father, struggling with their hands on a gun. Id. , at 48–58. Her father was asking Appellant to give him the gun and "let's sit down and talk about ... what you just did." Id. , at 51. Appellant did not speak.

I–Shan left and ran upstairs to her mother and told her that Appellant and the Victim were fighting. Id. , at 51. Ms. Samuels–Mitchell ran from the shower to an upstairs window. From there she could see Appellant chasing the Victim and shooting at him in the alley below. Id. , at 13–14, 30. She yelled at Appellant to "stop," and Appellant paused, turned toward her and said, "he takes me for a fool," and took another shot at the Victim. Id. , at 31. Appellant began to run back toward the house and Ms. Samuels–Mitchell ordered her children out of the house and told them to get help. Id. , at 16–17, 51. She quickly dressed and found her husband down the street from their home. He was lying on the sidewalk with "a hole in his chest." Id. , at 19–23.

[Fn]. "Johnny" Stellabotte testified that at the time of the shooting he was helping his father make repairs to a home that was owned by his grandmother. He was in the alley sitting in his father's truck and saw one man running after another shooting a gun. He heard screaming and saw gunfire. Stellabotte identified Appellant as the shooter from a photo array. N.T., 4/4/17, at 16–85.

Ms. Samuels–Mitchell and I–Shan gave statements immediately after the shooting and before they knew that the Victim had succumbed to his wounds. Ms. Samuels–Mitchell identified Appellant as the man who was living in the shed and who she saw chasing her husband and shooting at him. Id. , at 20–22; N.T. 4/5/17, at 34–35.

I–Shan was also interviewed by Detective Leo Hanshaw in a conference room at the Upper Darby Police Station. N.T., at 35. I–Shan was upset but "handling the situation well." She was not aware of her father's condition. Her statement included the following:

"I went downstairs onto the deck and called for my dad. He answered from the basement and then I went down the basement steps and saw him wrestling with the man who was, who's been staying in our basement. I saw both of them with the gun fighting over it, they both had their hands on the gun."

Id. , at 39. She heard her dad tell the man to give him the gun and the "other guy said nothing." In response to a follow-up question regarding whether she saw the man shoot her father, she stated: "all I saw is the guy's hand and the gun, I heard the gun go off about three times, I also saw the bullets that were coming out of the gun." Id. at 41.

Appellant was arrested the next day, March 13th. At the time of his arrest he
180 A.3d 765
had a laceration on his right hand but no other visible injuries. Id. , at 52, 59. After Appellant waived his Miranda rights he gave a statement. At the outset, Appellant stated that the Victim had pulled a gun on him while two men were holding him in the basement and he described an incident with the Victim and the two other men. Id. , at 82. When asked whether something had happened the day before the shooting Appellant said that he had disarmed the Victim and hid the gun [in] an alley about a block away from 501 Timberlake Road. Id. , at 84.

[fn] Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

Appellant then agreed to take the officers to the location of the gun. He was driven back to the alley and he directed the officers to the rear deck of 446 Timberlake Road where a .357 stainless steel Rossi revolver covered in a plastic bag was hidden underneath a PECO box underneath the deck of the home. Newspaper was shoved in and around where the gun was hidden. N.T. 4/3/17, at 11–22. Nearby, hidden by a blue trashcan beneath rocks and debris two spent casings and two live rounds were found, also at Appellant's direction. Id.

Shawn Mitchell died as a result of his wounds. Dr. Albert Chu of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office testified that a bullet went through his left arm and that the presence of soot residue and a muzzle imprint allowed him to conclude that the shot was fired at close range, about an inch from the body. A bullet was recovered from his left flank and that bullet entered the left side of his chest and travelled through his left lung, spleen, pancreas, stomach, superior mesenteric artery and inferior vena cava. N.T. 4/6/17, at 4–24. The entry wound was "atypical" in that it entered the body sideways, leading Doctor Chu to conclude that a single bullet passed through the left arm, entered the Victim's chest and came to rest where it was recovered from the Victim's flank. Id. A second bullet was discovered embedded in the basement wall. N.T. 4/5/17, at 23–29. Both bullets were fired from the 357 magnum Rossi firearm that was hidden at 446 Timberlake Road. Id. , at 125. Fingerprints from the index fingers of Appellant's left and right hands matched fingerprints from the barrel of the gun. Id. , at 128.

Appellant testified at trial [as follows:] On March 12, 2016, he was living in the shed adjoining the basement of 501 Timberlake Road. N.T. 4/6/17, at 39. Appellant acknowledged the fact that he was never allowed in the house alone without Mitchell. Id. , at 43–47. He knew that Mitchell had a gun in the house and testified that Mitchell had threatened him with it on other occasions. Id. , at 48–49.

He testified that on the day of the shooting he volunteered to clean the deck and that Mitchell led him through the kitchen and locked the door behind him making it impossible from him to re-enter the house. Id. , at 57. He was getting cold and couldn't get back inside so he jumped from the deck and entered the house through the basement door. Id. , at 59. He was in the basement when Mitchell appeared from upstairs, angry and cursing and carrying a gun. Id. , at 61. Appellant testified that he thought Mitchell was going to kill him because he had threatened him with the gun before. Id. , at 63. He testified that it was he who pleaded with Mitchell to "take it easy," to "calm down," and "don't do it," when he heard an explosion from four or five feet away. Id. , at 64.

Appellant claimed that he thought Mitchell shot him. He claimed that he
180 A.3d 766
grabbed the gun only after Mitchell

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