Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer Lloyd Long discusses details surrounding the Pennsylvania’s Superior Court’s decision in the Cole case. The appellant was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy, and carrying a firearm without a license. During deliberations, the jury asked to see a video that had been introduced during the trial. The lower court, without objection by appellant’s then-counsel, sent a tech paralegal from the district attorney’s office in with a tipstaff to play the video in the jury room. No discussion about the case occurred.
Even if the issue had not been waived by lack of a timely objection, the panel would not have granted relief. There was no ex parte communication with the jury, and the alleged prejudice, if any, was speculative. However, the panel indicated in a footnote that a better procedure would have been to bring the jury into the courtroom and play the video there.
The panel also found that a detective’s narration of certain aspects of video evidence was not reversible error. The narration consisted of pointing out the time stamp at certain points, the location of the cameras to the scene, and identifying certain occurrences. According to the panel, the testimony was based on the detective’s experience, perception, and personal knowledge of the location.
Relief was granted on an illegal sentencing claim – a mandatory minimum was imposed for the appellant’s robbery conviction two days after the USSC decided Alleyne.