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Commonwealth v. Perez

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

April 29, 2021

In Commonwealth v. Perez, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the sufficiency of the evidence at a preliminary hearing in a first-degree murder prosecution. The Commonwealth alleged that the defendant fatally stabbed the victim at a nightclub, but no witness at the crowded club had a good view of the attack. Thus the identity of the perpetrator was the only contentious issue. The Supreme Court stressed that, at a preliminary hearing, “the Commonwealth bears the burden of establishing at least a prima facie case that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably the one who committed it.” Given that witnesses saw the defendant in two skirmishes with the victim and that the defendant tried to discard evidence, the Court ruled that the Commonwealth established a prima facie case.

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