Failure to prove Sexual Offense precludes conviction of Felony Corruption of Minors (relating to sexual offenses)

The PA Superior Court recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. James Duane Baker-Myers, No. 1398 WDA 2016 (May 21, 2019), holding that the Commonwealth failed to prove an essential element of Corruption of Minors (COM-Felony) after the jury acquitted Baker-Myers of Rape, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Indecent Assault, and Indecent Assault.

In this case, the Commonwealth charged and prosecuted Baker-Myers for COM-Felony and the above Sexual Offenses, but failed to obtain a conviction on any of the Sexual Offenses. Following a two-day trial, the jury convicted Baker-Myers of the COM-Felony. However, the jury found him not guilty of the Sexual Offenses.

Baker-Myers appealed the COM-Felony conviction, arguing that the jury’s guilty verdict on that charge was not supported by sufficient evidence since a material element of that offense is the commission of a Chapter 31 Sexual Offense and, Baker-Myers was found not guilty of all four of the Sexual Offenses charged.

The Superior Court agreed, concluding that by acquitting Baker-Myers of the Sexual Offenses found in Chapter 31 of the PA Crimes Code, the jury found that the Commonwealth had failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted “in violation of Chapter 31.”

Accordingly, because the jury did not conclude that Baker-Myers acted “in violation of Chapter 31” (an essential element of COM-Felony), the Commonwealth was unable to establish every element of COM-Felony beyond a reasonable doubt.

CASE LINK: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/Opinion%20%20AffirmedVacatedRemanded%20%2010400026558693275.pdf?cb=1

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