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Commonwealth v. Renninger

Pennsylvania Superior Court

January 3, 2022

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled against the defendant in his challenges to his convictions for sexual abuse of two minors. But the Court vacated his judgment of sentence, finding that the sentencing court illegally altered the sentence without proper notice. The Commonwealth filed bills of information against the defendant, alleging he sexually assaulted two minors more than 21 years ago when the defendant was also a minor. As is typical, the Commonwealth could not pinpoint the dates of the alleged incidents, so it alleged the offenses occurred over several years. The trial court granted the defendant’s request for a bill of particulars but denied his motion to quash the information because the dates were too vague and conflicted with the bills of information. The Superior Court ruled that the date range was not so vague as to deny the defendant his constitutional right to be placed on notice. The Court also rejected challenges to the inordinate delay of the prosecution under the statute of limitations, as well as ex post facto and due process grounds. The Court held that the trial court correctly denied the defendant’s request to be transferred to juvenile court because he was 33 years old at the time of the trial, and the juvenile court would not have had jurisdiction over him. The Court also held that the trial court correctly permitted the allegations against the two victims to be consolidated into a single trial. The Superior Court then rejected the defendant’s claim that he was entitled to one victim’s military records because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in handling that discovery issue. Though the Court rejected the defendant’s discretionary aspect of sentencing claim, it found that the sentencing court ordered the sentence to run consecutively to a different sentence he was already serving but had not included that in its oral sentence weeks earlier. Given that the defendant did not have notice of that alteration pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 5505, the Court remanded for resentencing.

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