Commonwealth v. Walker, 2016 PA Super 100

Posted in PA Superior Court Cases,Sex Offenses,Sufficiency of Evidence on May 13, 2016

Walker drove around town asking grossly inappropriate sexual questions of various underage girls. He tried to physically pull the last child he targeted into his car, but she was able to resist and flee.

He first challenged the sufficiency of the evidence for his four unlawful contact with a minor convictions. The Information did not state which offense under Chapter 31 was the goal of the unlawful contact. The trial court, however, charged the jury that it had to find that Walker was in contact with the minors for engaging in an unlawful act, specifically sexual assault and/or indecent assault with a child under 13 years of age. The Commonwealth did not object to this instruction.

Walker argued that there was no evidence he intended to commit a sexual assault or indecent assault. The panel denied relief. Walker did not cite any binding authority that based on the trial court’s instruction, the Commonwealth had to prove those specific offenses as opposed to any other Chapter 31 offense. Pennsylvania requires the Commonwealth to prove the allegations in the information, not those in a seemingly erroneous jury instruction.

Walker also claimed that he had not attempted to lure the last child to his car. While it is true that saying “come in my car” is not sufficient evidence of luring, Walker’s actions in pulling the child toward his car was an affirmative act calculated to strongly induce the child to get in the car.

The evidence was also sufficient to support Walker’s conviction for simple assault of the last child. He made an explicit sexual remark and then grabbed her by the wrist, trying to pull her in the car. The child could have fallen back and hit her head while resisting or been injured in some other way.

Finally, the evidence was sufficient to show that he corrupted the morals of the first minor. Walker stalked her through a convenience store, stared at her, stood right next to her, followed her out the store, pulled his car up next to her, and told her “Come here.”

Judge Bender’s opinion can be found here.