Sunday, July 27, 2008

DA's Brief Opposing Cuadra's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (V. Statements Admissible to Show Existence of Conspirational Relationship)

V. Statements Admissible to Show Existence of Conspiratorial Relationship and Criminal Conspiracy

In addition, the statements are offered to show the existence of a conspiratorial relationship. In Commonwealth v. Whitaker 878 A.2d 914 (Pa. Super. 2005) the court wrote, “The motion also sought to preclude trial testimony from Mr. Cenevivia regarding the substance of a conversation between Appellant and Shakuur regarding the case that Mr. Cenevivia overheard while he was incarcerated in the Philadelphia County Prison with Appellant and Shakuur. Appellant contends that Mr. Cenevivia’s testimony regarding Shakuur’s statements was inadmissible because the statements did not fall under one of the enumerated exceptions to the hearsay rule. A review of Mr. Cenevivia’s testimony regarding the conversation indicates that Shakuur told Appellant that he did not wish to implicate Appellant as part of the robbery and murder but that Mr. Cenevivia was brought up from Florida to testify against Shakuur and, possibly, Appellant, Appellant responded to these statements by repeatedly stating to Shakuur that Shakuur had to say that Appellant was not involved with the crime.

As explained by the Commonwealth at the motion in limine hearing, Shakuur’s statements were not hearsay because they were not offered for the truth of the matter but, instead, they were offered as circumstantial evidence of the existence of the conspiracy between Appellant, Shakuur, and Stewart which had existed prior to the robbery of the bar. Commonwealth v. Cassidy 315 Pa.Super. 429, 462 A.2d 270, 272 (1983). Although these statements were made after the completion of the conspiracy to rob the bar, they were still relevant to demonstrate that a conspirational relationship existed between Appellant, Shakuur, and Stewart. Id., 462 A.2d at 272, As the statements were not hearsay, they were admissible. See also Com. v. Tumminello, 437 A.2d 435, 292 Pa.Super. 381 (Pa. Super., 1981)

In prosecution for first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and possession of instrument of crime, defendant’s acceptance and performance of his role in disposing of weapon which he knew in advance was to be used to “kill somebody ****" did not absolve him, but rather, established his responsibility for acts of his coconspirators. Commonwealth. v. Lawrence 442 A.2d 234, 497 Pa. 501, 1982. In Commonwealth. v. Rodgers 456 A.2d 1352, 500 Pa. 405 (Pa., 1983) Evidence of defendant’s stated intention to kill the victim, evidence of his presence at the time of the killing, evidence of his help in attempting to conceal the crime, and evidence of his subsequent admission of participation was sufficient to sustain his conviction for conspiracy and murder.