Commonwealth v. Beasley, 2016 PA Super 92
Beasley and his friend Knox made bad choices.
They fled police, crashed their car, and ran off leaving a gun in the car. When caught, they were in possession of drugs and cash. Knox gave a false name.
Knox fled the police again eight months later.
An officer later viewed Beasley’s Facebook page (it was under Beasley’s nom de plume, “Beaz Mooga”). It contained links to various rap videos featuring him and Knox. One threatened direct violence against the officers involved in the two incidents mentioned above. They lyrics also included references to the rapper’s mother discouraging his choice to put the music on a CD.
Police went to arrest Knox at Beasley’s mother’s house. When someone answered the door, people upstairs said to not let them in. An officer took Beasley into custody thinking he was Knox and calling him Knox; Beasley remained silent. After arriving at the police station, they realized the error; police returned to the home and arrested Knox, who was hiding in the ceiling behind loose tiles.
Beasley challenged the sufficiency of the evidence for his convictions two counts each of terroristic threats and intimidation of a witness, and one count each of conspiracy and hindering apprehension.
The Commonwealth proved the challenged element of intentional or reckless communication for terroristic threats because direct communication is not required, nor is intent to carry out the threat. The panel stated it did not need to determine whether publicly linking to a publicly available YouTube video constituted intent to communicate: there was sufficient evidence to conclude that he wanted the officers to hear the lyrical threats, and that he succeeded in doing so.
The evidence was also sufficient to prove intimidation of a witness. That he publicly threatened violence against officers who were set to testify against him was circumstantial proof that he was trying to convince police to withhold testimony.
Beasley’s argument that he and Knox conspired to commit no crime was meritless. Creation of the video was an overt act in furtherance of an agreement to threaten and intimidate police.
Finally, the evidence sufficiently proved that Beasley harbored Knox. Knox was hiding upstairs with Beasley in his mother’s house. Beasley did not correct the officer’s error in assuming he was Knox, and Knox was later found in that house hiding in the ceiling.
Judge Jenkins’ opinion can be found here.