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Commonwealth v. Simpson

Feb 22, 2021
J-A03045-21 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 22, 2021)


J-A03045-21 No. 506 MDA 2020




Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered October 23, 2019
In the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-38-CR-0000937-2018 BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., KUNSELMAN, J., and MURRAY, J. MEMORANDUM BY LAZARUS, J.:

Richard A. Simpson appeals from the judgment of sentence, entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, following his convictions of two counts of unlawful contact with a minor and one count each of criminal use of a communication facility and open lewdness. After review, we affirm based on the opinion authored by the Honorable Bradford H. Charles.

In late evening of January 20, 2018, and continuing into the early morning hours of January 21, 2018, Simpson contacted the minor victim via Facebook Messenger, and sent her a picture of alcohol and cherries. He later sent pictures of his genitals to her on Facebook Messenger, requesting she send him inappropriate pictures of herself. At some point early in the conversation, the victim disclosed the communication to Tim Discuillio, her mother's friend, and to her mother. At trial, the parties agreed Discuillio was aware of the communication and pictures. Later, Simpson appeared at the victim's home, believing she would be alone. When Simpson arrived, Discuillio and the victim's mother confronted him and summoned the police.

The victim, who was sixteen years old at the time, knew Simpson because she dated his son. --------

A jury convicted Simpson on April 25, 2019. On October 23, 2019, the court sentenced Simpson to 21-42 months' incarceration. On November 1, 2019, Simpson filed post-sentence motions, which the court denied on February 25, 2020. On March 17, 2020, Simpson filed this timely appeal.

Simpson raises two issues for our review:

1. Should [Simpson's] motion for judgment of acquittal be granted because the Commonwealth failed to present sufficient evidence at trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Simpson] was in communication with a minor when sending and requesting inappropriate photographs?

2. Should [Simpson's] motion for new trial be granted because the jury placed too great a weight on the testimony of both the victim [] and Tim Discuillo, and failed to properly consider the contradictions between their testimonies at trial and their original reports to police?
Appellant's Brief, at 4.
When reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, this Court must review the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as the verdict winner, and we must determine if the evidence, thus viewed, is sufficient to enable the fact-finder to find every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Commonwealth v. Goins , 867 A.2d 526, 527 (Pa. Super. 2004).

When examining a challenge to the weight of the evidence, our standard of review is as follows:

The weight of the evidence is exclusively for the finder of fact who is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence and to determine the credibility of the witnesses. An appellate court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the finder of fact. Thus, we may only reverse the . . . verdict if it is so contrary to the evidence as to shock one's sense of justice.

Moreover, where the trial court has ruled on the weight claim below, an appellate court's role is not to consider the underlying question of whether the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. Rather, appellate review is limited to whether the trial court palpably abused its discretion in ruling on the weight claim.
Commonwealth v. Champney , 832 A.2d 403, 408 (Pa. 2003) (internal citations omitted). A "trial court's denial of a motion for a new trial based on a weight of the evidence claim is the least assailable of its rulings." Commonwealth v. Rivera , 983 A.2d 1211, 1225 (Pa. 2009).

With respect to both challenges, after a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, the applicable law, and the well-reasoned opinion of Judge Charles, we conclude Simpson's claims merit no relief. The trial court's opinion properly addresses and disposes of those issues. ( See Trial Court Opinion, 2/25/20, at 3-8). We, therefore, rely on Judge Charles' opinion to affirm Simpson's judgment of sentence. We direct the parties to attach a copy of that opinion in the event of further proceedings.

Judgment of sentence affirmed. Judgment Entered. /s/_________
Joseph D. Seletyn, Esq.
Prothonotary Date: 02/22/2021

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Summaries of

Commonwealth v. Simpson

Feb 22, 2021
J-A03045-21 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 22, 2021)
Case details for

Commonwealth v. Simpson

Case Details



Date published: Feb 22, 2021


J-A03045-21 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 22, 2021)