Sunday, July 27, 2008

DA's Brief Opposing Cuadra's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (VIII. Defense Arguement that a 3rd Party Committed the Crimes)

VIII. Defense Argument that a 3rd Party Committed the Crimes

In Commonwealth. v. Sullivan, 371 A.2d 468, 472 Pa. 129 (Pa., 1977) the court reviewed the argument concerning that a mysterious 3 person committed the crimes and wrote:

“Appellant claims that this evidence fails to preclude the possibility that a third party committed the crime since the building was unlocked and several other individuals were known to be about. The Commonwealth concedes that the evidence does not exclude participation by anyone else, In fact, the testimony showed that two guns were used in the murders. However, appellant was the only known person on the second floor whose whereabouts were unaccounted for during the shootings. Moreover, it is not required that the prosecution exclude all possibility of a third party committing the act.”

“If eyewitness testimony of the commission of a murder were necessary, or if the Commonwealth had to exclude the possibility of a third person committing the crime--which would, in reality, require an eyewitness or the capture of defendant ‘red-handed’--few murderers would ever be convicted, and society could not possibly be adequately protected. Moreover, even if a defendant was caught running away from the murder scene right after the murder, he would have to be acquitted under the ‘exclusion’ theory because he could contend that he was running away in order to avoid suspicion or to escape from the unknown criminal’s attempt to murder him, In the Sauders case, in the Bolish case, in the Homeyer case, in the Wentzel case, ( Com v. Wentzel 360 Pa. 137, 61 A.2d 309), in the Danz ease, ( Com v. Danz 211 Pa 507, 60 A 1070), in the Boden case, ( Com v Boden 399 Pa 298, 159 A 2d 894), in the Carey case, ( Com v. Carey 368 Pa. 157, 82 A.2d 240), and Commonwealth v. LaRue 381 Pa, 113, 112 A 362, infra, (to mention just a few) there were no eyewitnesses to the murder; the exact time of death was unknown; and any third party or unknown person could have committed the murder. Any refinements or distortion of the law such as defendant urges would not only require us to overrule a myriad decisions of this Court, but would make the protection of society in most cases realistically impossible.” Commonwealth v. Kravitz 400 Pa, 198, 212--l3, 161 A.2d 861, 868 (1960).

“In Kravitz, supra, we concluded by determining that it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth to dispel all possibility of doubt provided the evidence, if believed, warrants a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Here the Commonwealth concedes that the evidence did not foreclose the possibility of the participation of a third person to the shooting. In fact it was their theory that at least two persons had actually shot the victims. Nevertheless we are satisfied that the testimony offered to show that Sullivan was one of the participants was sufficient to sustain the verdict.”