Commonwealth v. Harrington

This was an appeal following convictions of Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, Firearms Not to be Carried Without a License, and Tampering With or Fabricating Physical Evidence. The Commonwealth alleged Appellant communicated with and provided transportation to someone after he murdered a police officer and that Appellant disposed of the firearm used in the shooting. Before trial, Appellant filed a pretrial Motion in Limine to preclude the testimony of a Commonwealth witness as hearsay. The Commonwealth intended to offer testimony that someone told her that Appellant had come to their residence after the shooting to retrieve the murder weapon. The Commonwealth argued that, because the witness conspired with others to hinder the apprehension and prosecution of the shooter, the testimony was admissible as an exception to the rule against hearsay. The trial court agreed and denied the motion. At her jury trial, Appellant objected to the Commonwealth playing the surveillance video recording of the officer’s murder. Appellant argued that the video was irrelevant, and the video’s substantial prejudice outweighed any potential probative value. Appellant offered to stipulate to the shooting and the time and location in which it took place. The trial court overruled Appellant’s objection and issued a cautionary instruction. The jury found Appellant guilty, and she appealed. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed. Appellant’s issues challenged those two evidentiary rulings. In her first issue, Appellant asserted the trial court erred in permitting the Commonwealth to play the video recording of the officer’s shooting. The Court ruled that the evidence was relevant to prove the underlying crime, which was an element of the offense of Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution. In her second issue, Appellant asserted the trial court erred in denying her Motion in Limine. The Court held that Appellant engaged in a conspiracy to hinder the apprehension and prosecution of the shooter when she concealed: 1. information from the police about the shooter’s activities and location after the shooting; 2. the location of the murder weapon and; 3. her efforts to dispose of the weapon.

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