Evidence of subsequent residential burglary to show defendant did not commit crime inadmissible under Pa.R.E. 402.

Commonwealth v Gill, 2017 PA Super 80 (March 28, 2017)

Mr. Gill was charged burglary, theft, and related charges concerning the 2013 theft of several hundred dollars from a lockbox located in the house of an acquaintance who had given Mr. Gill the combination to the strongbox. The evidence included that of a witness who claimed he gave Mr. Gill a ride to the victim’s house during the period in which the theft occurred, and the victim returned form the house with hundreds of dollars in cash. There was no evidence of forced entry of the victim’s house, the victim not able to pinpoint when the burglary occurred.

Before trial Mr. Gill filed a motion in limine to introduce evidence of a 2016 report by the victim of what Mr. Gill alleged was a similar (as to amount stolen, means, extended time over which theft occurred, lack of forced entry, etc.) burglary. He filed an amended motion in limine asking to introduce testimony from the victim’s daughter that in 1995 he accuSed her of stealing $30,000 from him. The trial court ruled that it would allow evidence of the 2016 burglary to be admitted, and the Commonwealth appealed, and the Superior Court reversed. The discussion is fact specific, but may prove useful to anyone contemplating the use or having to defend against the introduction of prior crimes evidence under the relevancy rule in Pa.R.E. 402.

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