Saturday, August 9, 2008

Law and Argument: Severance based upon Antagonistic Defenses

III. Law and Argument: Severance based upon Antagonistic Defenses

In Commonwealth v. Brown, 592 Pa. 376, 925 A.2d (2007), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, citing Commonwealth v. Williams, 554 Pa. 1, 720 A.2d 679, 685 (1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1161, 119 S.Ct. 2052, 144 L.Ed.2d 219 (1999); Commonwealth v. Lambert, 529 Pa. 320, 603 A.2d 568, 573 (1992); Commonwealth v. Chester, 526 Pa. 578, 587 A.2d 1367, 1372 (1991) cert. denied, 502 U.S. 959, 112 S.Ct. 422, 116 L.Ed.2d 442 (1991), stated the following:

... severance should be granted only where the defenses are so antagonistic that they are irreconcilable-i.e., the jury essentially would be forced to disbelieve the testimony on behalf of one defendant in order to believe the defense of his co-defendant. Id. at 161, 162.

Both Defendant Cuadra and Defendant Kerekes have filed individual Notice of Possible Alibi Defense pleadings averring that each was at the Fox Ridge Hotel, Room 211, Plains Township, Pennsylvania at the time of the alleged offenses occurred. These Notices, when viewed in conjunction with what the Commonwealth has put forth as its theory of these cases and the evidence and allegations the Commonwealth has presented in these matters to date and will present at a joint trial, the jury will have no choice but to disbelieve the testimony offered on behalf of one of the Defendant’s in order to believe the testimony offered on behalf of the other Defendant.

One need only look to the numerous other documents, i.e. transcripts, police reports, e-mail print-outs and other documents, filed by the Commonwealth with the Luzerne County Clerk of Courts in these matters as exhibits to the Commonwealth’s many pleadings and briefs to see how Defendant Cuadra and Defendant Kerekes’ respective defenses are antagonistic to the level and degree delineated in the Brown citation set forth above.

WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons and averments the Defendants respectfully request that this Honorable Court enter an Order Severing the above captioned matters and directing that separate trials be held for each Defendant.

Respectfully Submitted,

Michael B. Senape, Esq.
Conflict Attorney for Defendant Cuadra