Sunday, July 27, 2008

DA's Brief Opposing Cuadra's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (VI. Co-Conspirator Exception)

VI. Co-Conspirator Exception

In Commonwealth v. Lamm 684 A.2d 153, 453 Pa.Super. 497 (Pa. Super. 1996), the court wrote, “An exception to the hearsay rule permits an out-of-court declaration of one co-conspirator to be admitted against another co-conspirator provided that the declaration was made during the conspiracy and in furtherance of it.” (citing Commonwealth v. Lambert 529 Pa. 320, 334-3 5, 603 A.2d 568, 575 (1992)(citing Commonwealth v. Coccioletti 493 Pa. 103, 111, 425 A 387, 391 (1981)). In addition, the fact that a declaration of a co-conspirator was made to undercover law enforcement officers or nonconspirators does not take the declaration out of the co-conspirator exception. Commonwealth V. Movers 391 Pa.Super. 262, 269, 570 A.2d 1323, 1326-27 (1990).

The conspiracy, for purposes of the hearsay exception, may be inferentially established by showing the relation, conduct, or circumstances of the parties. Commonwealth v. Chester 526 Pa. 578, 593-94, 587 A.2d 1367, 1374-75 (1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 849, 112 S.Ct. 152, 116 L.Ed.2d 117 (1991). With respect to the introduction of evidence under the co-conspirator exception, the Commonwealth is only required to show by a fair preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed. Commonwealth v. Mayhue 536 Pa, 271, 293, 639 A.2d 421, 432 (1994). The duration of a conspiracy depends upon the individual facts of each case. Chester 526 Pa. at 593, 587 A.2d at 1374. Additionally, the fact that the ‘central objective’ of the conspiracy has been nominally attained does not preclude the continuance of the conspiracy. Where there is evidence that the conspirators originally agreed to take certain steps after the principal objective of the conspiracy was reached, or evidence from which such an agreement may reasonably be inferred, the conspiracy may be found to continue... The crucial factor is the necessity for some showing that the later activities were part of the original plan. Commonwealth v. Evans 489 Pa, 85, 90-93, 413 A.2d 1025, 1029 (1980)(citations omitted).

“At issue is whether the conspiracy was still on-going when Xie spoke with Agent Lee almost two years after the murder. Appellant alleges that once the murder occurred, the conspiracy ended. The Commonwealth contends that the parties had originally agreed that Yeung would be paid $30,000 in two installments, and since he had not yet been paid in full, the conspiracy was still continuing.

An examination of the record indicates sufficient evidence from which it may be inferred that the conspiracy had not ended with Xu’s murder.”

Where there is evidence that the conspirators originally agreed to take certain steps, for example, the recruitment of Sean Lockhart aka Brent Corrigan, after the principal or major objective of the conspiracy was reached, being the murder of Bryan Kocis, the annihilation of his 2257’s, the destruction of his computer business records, or evidence from which such an agreement may reasonably be inferred, the conspiracy may be found to continue. Such is the case here, Justin Hensley testified that an important business aim of Kerekes/Cuadra was to pry the porn star Sean Lockhart away from the victim’s business, Cobra Video, See Prelim. Hr’g. Trans. Vol. 1 pg. 73, line 24. “They wanted to try and recruit him under their wings so he could go work for them, to try to get him to go from Cobra to Boybatter... . the only thing standing in their way was Mr. Kocis,” at pg. 75, line 18- 19; “it would benefit them a whole great deal if they had him.” ld. at pg. 76, line 8-9.) A central objective of the conspiracy between Defendant Cuadra and Defendant Kerekes was to hire Sean Lockhart aka Brent Corrigan. See testimony of Justin Hensley at Prelim. Hr’g, Trans. Vol. I pg. 73-74, 87.