Commonwealth v. Lees, 1625 MDA 2015

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Citation135 A.3d 185,2016 PA Super 72
Docket NumberNo. 1625 MDA 2015,1625 MDA 2015
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant v. Alison LEES, Appellee.
Decision Date24 March 2016

135 A.3d 185
2016 PA Super 72

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant
v.
Alison LEES, Appellee.

No. 1625 MDA 2015

Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Submitted Feb. 22, 2016.
Filed March 24, 2016.


135 A.3d 186

Rebecca L. Warren, District Attorney, Danville, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Gregory A. Stuck, Northumberland, for appellee.

BEFORE: GANTMAN, P.J., BOWES, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

OPINION BY GANTMAN, P.J.:

Appellant, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, appeals from the order entered in the Montour County Court of Common Pleas, which granted the petition for habeas corpus relief filed on behalf of Appellee, Alison Lees. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

The relevant facts and procedural history of this appeal are as follows. On August 15, 2014, Appellee was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”), reckless driving, and careless driving.1 Appellee filed an omnibus pretrial motion on May 26, 2015, for habeas corpus relief, suppression of evidence, and a motion in limine regarding potential trial testimony. The trial court held a pre-trial hearing on July 6, 2015. The trial court's opinion continues:

The evidence adduced at the hearing began with testimony by Tiffany Mowrer that, on August 15, 2014, around 3:00–3:30 p.m., she heard a loud bang and saw [Appellee] get out of a vehicle which had just struck a green electrical box in a grassy area adjacent to the parking spaces of Montgomery Village. Ms. Mowrer testified that the parking lot in general was open to the public, and that the sign upon entry from Bloom Road states “Private Property.” Further, an alternate entry point from
135 A.3d 187
Woodbine Land is obstructed with a chain on which is hung a sign [that] states “No Trespassing.” The area between the demarcated parking space from which [Appellee] had emerged and the green electrical box is planted with grass. Ms. Mowrer's [cousin] Tony Mowrer confirmed that he, too, had seen [Appellee's] vehicle strike the green electrical box. Mr. Mowrer testified that the U.S. Postal Service and UPS regularly traverse the parking lot in general, but Mr. Mowrer also confirmed that a sign at the entrance to the parking lot in general which serves both Evergreen Point and Montgomery Village states that the parking lot is “Private Property.” Mr. Mowrer confirmed that [Appellee] had been parked in a parking space marked with a number on a portable concrete curb, that she proceeded forward over the concrete curb marked with the number, into the grass and into the green electrical box, and that [Appellee] did not drive anywhere else. There was absolutely no evidence that [Appellee] had been in actual physical control of a vehicle in the parking lot in general.

It was stipulated that [Appellee's] blood alcohol content was 0.189% at 4:47 p.m. on August 15, 2014. It was also stipulated that the grassy area between the curb and the green electrical box is not a “highway” or “trafficway.” Finally, the parties stipulated that [Appellee] did not operate her vehicle anywhere except in her parking space and the grassy area into which she drove.

Officer Matthew Gerst testified that he was dispatched to the scene on August 15, 2014, at 3:35 p.m. He proceeded through the joint access into the complex shared by Evergreen Point and Montgomery Village. Officer Gerst confirmed that the curbs in Montgomery Village are marked with the unit numbers to which the respective parking spaces are assigned. Officer Gerst did state that, when he parked his vehicle at the scene, he parked in a numbered space, but this fact is discounted in weight due to the fact that a reasonable person would be hesitant to tell a police officer to move his vehicle while he is dealing with an incident, a fact admitted by the officer on cross-examination. Officer Gerst stated that the curb in front of [Appellee's] vehicle was marked with an “11,” and that [Appellee's] address in Montgomery Village is “11.” The officer testified that he assumed that the space was [Appellee's] parking space.

The hearing resumed on August 3, 2015, with the stipulated admission into evidence of several documents including [Appellee's] deed dated March 22, 2011 which stated that [Appellee's] title was subject to the Montgomery Village Declarations of covenants, conditions and restrictions (the “Declarations”). Also admitted by stipulation was Ex. C–4, the Declarations. Article IV, Section 2 states that the purpose of assessments are to promote the recreation, health, safety and welfare of the residents and for the improvement and maintenance of the Common Area and of private streets, curbs, and other maintenance expenses. The Declarations were also admitted as D–1, which also contains “Proposed Amendments ...” to the Declarations (the “Amendments”) and a map which were not included in Ex. C–4. The [Proposed] Amendments, at p. 2, Article VII, Section 1, states that one parking space is reserved for each Lot Owner “for the use of that particular Lot Owner.” Section 2 states that vehicles improperly parked “will be towed....”

(Trial Court Opinion, filed August 25, 2015, at 1–4).

135 A.3d 188

On August 25, 2015, the court granted...

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3 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Evans, 405 MDA 2018
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 20, 2018
    ...rights and, "in fact, filed a timely post-sentence motion and notice of appeal on [Bynum-Hamilton's] behalf." Bynum-Hamilton , 135 A.3d at 185. Here, the record does not support the Commonwealth's claim that "trial counsel made [Evans] aware of his rights on the record." Commonwealth's Brie......
  • Commonwealth v. Bridgeford
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 13, 2022
    ...permit-holders, can still meet the 'public use' requirement for purposes of Sections 3101, 102 and the DUI statute." Commonwealth v. Lees, 135 A.3d 185, 189 (Pa.Super. 2016). "Even if restricted by signs, if a parking lot is used by members of the public, it is a trafficway for purposes of ......
  • Commonwealth v. Bridgeford
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 13, 2022
    ...can still meet the ‘public use’ requirement for purposes of Sections 3101, 102 and the DUI statute." Commonwealth v. Lees , 135 A.3d 185, 189 (Pa.Super. 2016). "Even if restricted by signs, if a parking lot is used by members of the public, it is a trafficway for purposes of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § ......

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