Sunday, July 27, 2008

DA's Brief Opposing Cuadra's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (X. Corpus Delecti)

X. Corpus Delecti

“Corpus Delecti means the body of the crime or the fact that a crime has been committed.” Commonwealth v. Meder 416 Pa. Super. 273, 611 A.2d 213 (1992). In applying the corpus delecti, the Pennsylvania courts have utilized a two-tier approach. Commonwealth v. Reves, 681 A.2d 724 (1996). First, the trial court must look to whether the Commonwealth can prove the admission, Although it is well established that a defendant’s admission is not admitted until a corpus delecti is established, a trial court controls the order of proof and may permit the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of the defendant’s admission before it proves the corpus delecti. Commonwealth v. Smallwood 442 A.2d 222 (1982). Second, the decision is made at the close of the ease where the trial court must determine whether the proof of the corpus delecti is sufficient to permit the fact finder to consider the defendant’s confession. Commonwealth v. Verticelli 706 A.2d 820 (1998). The corpus delecti can be proven through circumstantial evidence. ld. citing Commonwealth v. Reyes 681 A 724 (1996).

i. Corpus Delecti at Habeas/Preliminary Hearings

To prove corpus delecti, the Commonwealth need not prove each element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, Rather, the Commonwealth needs only to establish that a crime has been committed. Commonwealth v. Ware 329 A.2d 258 (1974).