Judges Opinions Public Notices, — September 29, 2020 11:48 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, September 30, 2020

Volume 58, No. 9

 

PUBLIC NOTICES                         

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

NOTICE OF CLAIM

FICTITIOUS NAMES

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joshua James Stump

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF DONALD E. RITTLE, JR., late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Donald E. Rittle, Sr., Administrator

1300 E. Kercher Ave., Lot 69

Myerstown, PA  17067

 

Timothy T. Engler, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF GARRY L. YINGST, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Shawn Yingst, Co-Executor

Cheryl Givler, Co-Executor

 

Young and Young

44 S. Main Street

P.O. Box 126

Maheim, PA 17545

 

ESTATE OF ARLENE H. RISSER, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Darrel Ebersole, Co-Executor

Lester Diem, Co-Executor

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

ESTATE OF CHRISTOPHER J. ANDREWS, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Clare Yingst, Executrix

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

ESTATE OF NANCY J. MILLER, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.

 

Kathleen S. Martin

2255 Colebrook Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Brenda J. Miller

171 Witman Road

Womelsdorf, PA 19567

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF SALLY SHAW OWENS, A/K/A SALLY S. OWENS, A/K/A SALLY OWENS, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

John Francis Brennen, Sr., Executor

1959 Blacks Bridge Road

Annville, PA, 17003

 

Greer H. Anderson, Esquire

Long Brightbill

315 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF PAUL J. KOTKAS, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Jean L. Kotkas, Administrator

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

ESTATE OF MARGARET ANN O’NEIL A/K/A MARGARET A. O’NEIL, late of Cornwall, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robert E. Visco, Jr., Executor

9402 Indianfield Dr

Mechanicsville, VA 23116

 

Jason J. Schibinger, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

ESTATE OF KENNETH A. PUSHNIK, late of North Cornwall, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gary Rhine, Executor

809 Whitman Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Scott L. Grenoble, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

ESTATE OF VALETA F. THOMPSON A/K/A VALETA THOMPSON, late of Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Todd Ernest Leahy, Executor

4743 Spanish Sun Ave NE

Albuquerque, NM 87110

 

David R. Warner, Jr, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

ESTATE OF ELAINE J SNYDER, late of Richland, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

James F. Snyder, Executor

1305 Royal Lane

West Deptford, NJ 08086

 

David R. Warner, Jr, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

ESTATE OF MARIE A. HEAGY, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Fern J. Wenger, Co-Executor

 

Brian L. Wenger, Co-Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARK W. HENNINGER, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Lisa A. Henninger, Executrix

 

George W. Porter, Esquire

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA  17033

 

ESTATE OF WILMA E. URBAN, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Fulton Bank, Administrator

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF RONALD L. GINGRICH, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Andrea Coulson, Executrix

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

ESTATE OF CHARLES K. WINKLEBLECK, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Kim L. Swoyer, Executrix

 

George E. Christianson, Esquire

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa.  17042

 

ESTATE OF ESTATE OF EDWARD DEMMY SHERRICK, JR., late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Jeffrey Sherrick, Administrator

PO Box 285

Hummelstown PA 17036

 

Stephanie E. Murphy, Esquire

108 W. Main St.

P.O. Box 330

Annville, PA 17003

 

ESTATE OF GLADYS F. SCHOENER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrators.

 

Debra A. Gingrich, Administrator

3140 Camp Swatara Road

Bethel, PA 19507

 

Sheri L. Fisher, Administrator

337 Yeagley Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF RUTH N. WENGER, A/K/A RUTH NAOMI WENGER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Susan M. Wenger, Executor

304 Chestnut Street

Richland, PA 17087

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF MELVIN R. BOLTZ, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Kay F. Boltz, Executor

348 Woleber Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

NOTICE OF CLAIM

 

QUENTIN RIDING CLUB, INC. NOTICE

 

Notice is hereby given to all persons or legal entities which have a FINANCIAL CLAIM against the Quentin Riding Club, Inc., shall produce said claim in writing, with supporting documents within thirty (30) days of the date of this publication. If your claim is untimely you could lose all rights concerning the claim.

 

ALL MEMBERS of the Quentin Riding Club, Inc., as of the close of business of the Quentin Riding Club, Inc. shall submit their names and address along with proof of membership. If you have already provided name, address and proof of membership you do not have to respond.

 

Provide all such information to the Law Offices of Steiner & Sandoe, 36 West Main Avenue, Myerstown, Pennsylvania 17067, within thirty (30) days of the date of the publication.

 

Board of Directors of Quentin Riding Club, Inc., Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys.

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

 

FICTITIOUS NAME

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name was filed in the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on August 25, 2020 for The Chubby Unicorn at 54 Gravel Hill Road Palmyra, PA 17078. The name and address of each individual interested in the business is Darian Blauch at 54 Gravel Hill Road Palmyra, PA 17078. This was filed in accordance with 54 PaC.S. 311.

 

Penncorp Servicegroup, Inc.

600 North Second Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joshua James Stump

 

Criminal Action-Law-Evidence-Authentication-Cellular Telephone-Text Messages-Circumstantial Proof

 

Defendant Joshua James Stump, who was convicted following a trial by jury of sex related offenses, challenged the admission of text messages at trial on appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

 

  1. Pa.R.E. Rule 901(a) provides that a proponent of evidence must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the evidence is what the proponent claims that it is.

 

  1. Testimony of a witness with knowledge, evidence of distinct characteristics, evidence about a process or system and opinion evidence about items such as voice and handwriting will satisfy the requirements of authentication pursuant to Pa.R.E. Rule 901.

 

  1. Authentication of evidence generally entails a relatively low burden of proof.

 

  1. In Commonwealth v. Murray, 174 A.3d 1147 (Pa.Super. 2017), the Pennsylvania Superior Court indicated that text messages may be authenticated in three (3) ways: (1) Testimony from either the author or the sender of the message; (2) Circumstantial evidence including distinctive characteristics or reference to relevant events preceding or following the message; or (3) Any other facts or aspects of the message that signify it is what the proponent claims it to be.

 

  1. Although circumstantial proof can be used to hurdle the bar of authenticity, such circumstantial proof requires more than mere confirmation that a telephone number or email address typically belongs to a particular person.

 

  1. Appearance, content, substance, internal patterns and other distinctive characteristics of a text message can provide circumstantial proof of authentication.

 

  1. Where evidence was presented that the cellular phone number in question regularly was used by the witness to communicate with Defendant about ordinary, everyday life matters, the witness testified that she never communicated with anyone else at that number, the number was used by the witness to communicate with Defendant while law enforcement was present, the witness heard Defendant’s voice when the number was used for oral communications and the contents of the text messages support their authenticity, sufficient contextual clues were presented to authenticate the text messages between the witness and Defendant.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. CP-38-CR-0000701-2018, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, April 3, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                              :  NO.  CR-701-2018 

PENNSYLVANIA                                        :   

                                                                        :             

  1. :

                                                                        :                     

JOSHUA JAMES STUMP             :

 

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 3rd day of April, 2020, the Court directs that the attached Opinion, the previous Opinion we authored that denied the Defendant’s Post-Sentence Motions dated January 10, 2020 and the entire file be forwarded to the Pennsylvania Superior Court Prothonotary as promptly as possible.

BY THE COURT:

 

                                                 J.

BRADFORD H. CHARLES

 

 

BHC/pmd

 

Cc:      District Attorney’s Office

Joshua Bodene, Esq

Court Administration (order only)

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                              :  NO.  CR-701-2018 

PENNSYLVANIA                                        :   

                                                                        :             

  1. :

                                                                        :                     

JOSHUA JAMES STUMP             :

 

 

APPEARANCES

 

Megan Ryland-Tanner, Esquire   For Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

 

Joshua Bodene, Esquire              For Joshua James Stump 

 

 

 

 

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., April 3, 2020

 

We author this Opinion pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925 to supplement an Opinion we authored on January 10, 2020 to deny the Defendant’s Post-Sentence Motions.  Today, we address two issues that we did not address in January:

  1.  The purported failure of this Court to include a “false in one, false in all” instruction to the jury; and
  2.  A purported error by this Court regarding authentication of text messages.

We will address each of these issues seriatim.

  1. False in one, false in all

In his Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal, the Defendant claims that this Court erred by failing to properly instruct the jury regarding witness credibility.  Specifically, the Defendant argues that we did not give the jury a “false in one, false in all” instruction.  The Defendant’s argument is factually incorrect.  At pages 18-19 of the Supplemental Jury Trial Transcript, the following instruction to the jury was documented:

“I’m also required to tell you about credibility of witnesses.  Credibility means believability.  And yes, it requires you to ask yourselves “is he telling the truth? Is he lying?  Is she being honest?  Is she being dishonest?”  You absolutely have to answer that question for yourselves.  But credibility means more than simply truth-telling.  Honest people can differ in recollection and perception.  It’s not usual for two people to take the stand, testify about an event, leave the stand believing in their heart that they told the truth, and yet give differing versions; maybe because one perceived it poorly, maybe because one remembered it poorly.  You have a duty to try and reconcile conflicts in the testimony if you can fairly do so.  If you cannot, it’s up to you and you alone to decide who and what to believe.  If you find that any witness has intentionally lied to you about any material fact, you may – you’re not required to, but you may disregard all the testimony of a witness who you find to have lied.” (N.T. 18-19, emphasis supplied)

 

Because we did instruct the jury properly, the Defendant’s argument regarding “false in one, false in all” should be rejected.

 

  1. Authentication of text messages

Authentication of text messages was a hotly contested evidentiary battle at trial.  It is important to understand at the outset that two authentication objections were lodged.  Those objections were:

  1. An objection to text messages from Lori Lerch’s telephone that were copied and available for inspection.
  2. Copies of additional text messages that were seen by Trooper Prevost but then deleted.

Based upon our rulings, the jury never saw the deleted text messages.  (N.T. 153; Supplemental Transcript N.T. 22).  Therefore, the copious arguments contained in the record regarding the deleted text messages are a non-sequitur, because the challenged evidence was never presented to the jury.

With respect to the text messages that were copied from Lori Lerch’s phone, the record is more limited.  A key passage is contained in the trial transcript at pages 34-37:

BY MS. RYLAND-TANNER:

  1. Would the text messages that you are looking at in Exhibit No. 1, do they fairly and accurately depict some of the conversations that you had with Joshua Stump verbally?

 

  1. Yes.

 

  1. Do they fairly and accurately depict conversations that you had on a regular basis with Joshua Stump via text message?

 

  1. Absolutely.

 

  1. RYLAND-TANNER:  Your Honor, I would move for the admission of Exhibit No. 1.

THE COURT:            Any objection?

 

  1. BODENE: Your Honor, I do object.  I think that [this] is not authenticated, but we’ve been heard on that before.

 

THE COURT:            Ma’am, I have a couple of questions regarding the text messages that you sent and received from Josh.

Other than as it relates to this case, did you send messages to Josh’s number about regular ordinary everyday life events, such as would you bring milk home or meeting at McDonald’s or somewhere, or things of that nature?

 

THE WITNESS:        Can you repeat the question, please?

 

THE COURT:            The telephone number that you had for Josh, 717-304-5219, did you at time communicate by text message about regular, ordinary, everyday life matters such as when are you going to get home or will you stop at the grocery store; anything of that nature?

 

THE WITNESS:        Occasionally.

 

THE COURT:            And when you discussed those regular everyday life events by text message, did those events then happen?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes.

 

The COURT: So if you were to say to him by text message “I’ll meet you at the store,” he met you at the store?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes.

 

THE COURT:            Of if you communicated about getting milk, he would bring home milk as the text message indicated?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes.

 

THE COURT:            At any time did you communicate with any other human being at the number 717-304-5219?

 

THE WITNESS:        No.

THE COURT:            The telephone that you gave to the Trooper when he was at your house so that he could speak with the other person, is that Josh’s telephone number? In other words, were you talking with Josh on that telephone using that number when you gave the phone to Trooper Prevost?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes.

 

THE COURT:            Now this telephone number, 717-304-5219, did you use it for verbal communications as well?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes.

 

THE COURT:            When you called that number, did you recognize the voice on the other end?

 

THE WITNESS:        Yes I did.

 

THE COURT:            Whose voice was it?

 

THE WITNESS:        Josh’s.

 

THE COURT:            Was there anyone else who used that phone?

 

THE WITNESS:        No.

 

THE COURT:            The objection is overruled, the text messages have been authenticated and they will be admitted.”

 

Authenticity of evidence is governed by Pa.R.Ev. 901.  Under that rule, a proponent must produce “evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”  Pa.R.Ev. 901(a).  The rule lists various examples that will satisfy this requirement, including testimony of a witness with knowledge, evidence of distinct characteristics, evidence about a process or system and opinion evidence about things such as voice and handwriting.  Pa.R.Ev. 901(b).    Generally speaking, authenticity generally entails a “relatively low burden of proof”. See, Commonwealth v. Koch, 106 A.3d 705, 713 (Pa. 2014).

These general principles have been consistently employed to govern authenticity of electronic communications.  See, e.g. Commonwealth v. Koch, 39 A.3d 996 (Pa. Super. 2011).  In Commonwealth v. Murray, 174 A.3d 1147 (Pa. Super. 2017), Pennsylvania’s Superior Court indicated that text messages can be authenticated in three ways:

  1.  By testimony from either the author or the sender;
  2.  By circumstantial evidence, including distinctive characteristics or reference to relevant events preceding or following the message, or
  3.  Any other facts or aspects of the message that signify it is what the proponent claims.

Although circumstantial proof can be used to hurdle the authenticity bar, that circumstantial proof requires more than mere confirmation that a telephone number or email address typically belongs to a particular person.  See, Commonwealth v. Koch, 39 A.3d 996 (Pa. Super. 2011).

One of the most recent and comprehensive Appellate decisions regarding authenticity of text messages is the case of Commonwealth v. Danzey, 210 A.3d 333 (Pa. Super. 2019).  In Danzey, the Superior Court recognized that factors such as “appearance, content, substance, internal patterns and other distinctive characteristics” of a text message can provide circumstantial proof of authentication.  The Court looked beyond the precise messages in question to evaluate whether there were sufficient “contextual clues” that linked the account in question to the defendant.  The Court concluded:

“We agree with the Trial Court’s conclusion.  Here, the Commonwealth presented evidence substantiating that Appellant owned the Facebook and Instagram accounts in question and the circumstantial evidence tending to corroborate that Appellant was the author of those communications.  The contextual clues in the posts, taken together with the testimony provided by the victim’s sister, support the conclusion that Appellant was the author of the messages.” Id at page 340.

 

The use of “contextual clues” to authenticate text messages has been approved in numerous other Superior Court cases.  See, e.g.  Commonwealth v. Evans, 2018 WL 1056464 (Pa. Super. 2018); Commonwealth v. Hart, 2018 WL 2307381 (Pa. Super. 2018); Commonwealth v. Dunbar, 2019 WL 1422574 (Pa. Super. 2019) and Commonwealth v. Pultro, 2017 WL 6199839 (Pa. Super. 2017).

This Court recently had the opportunity to address the issue of text message authenticity.  In Commonwealth v. Nolan Brodie, Jr., C.P. Leb, Co., No. 38-CR-1497-2018 (March 9, 2020), the defendant relied upon the case of Commonwealth v. Mosley¸114 A.3d 1072 (Pa. Super. 2015) and attempted to equate authenticity with impossibility of fabrication.  We rejected the defendant’s argument and stated:

“We cannot accept the Defendant’s legal argument based upon Mosley.  Effectively, the Defendant is seeking to impose a nearly impossible burden upon the Commonwealth.  If a court were to require independent authenticating corroboration for each and every text message and each and every email, only those that are directly tied to an author by a photograph or testimonial admission would be admissible.  A reality of modern communication is that people exchange text numbers and email addresses and then use those modalities to communicate a wide variety of information, most of which is mundane and non-criminal.  It is those mundane and non-criminal communications that tie the possessor of the phone to incriminating messages that may also be found thereon.  To remove the ability of the Commonwealth to rely upon contextual information to authenticate text messages would be to disavow decades of decisional precedent that permits circumstantial authentication of inculpatory information.  This is simply not a leap of logic we are willing to undertake.” (Slip opinion at page 14)

 

In this case, the following authenticating information was presented:

  • The text number in question was regularly used by Lori Lerch to communicate with the Defendant.(N.T. 34)
  • The telephone number used for text messages was used by Lerch and the Defendant to communicate about regular ordinary everyday life matters.  When those matters were discussed, via text, the events described occurred. (N.T. 35-36)
  • Lerch testified that she never communicated with any other human being at the telephone number in question. (N.T. 36)
  • The telephone number in question was used by Lerch to communicate with the Defendant while Trooper Prevost was present.  Trooper Prevost spoke with the Defendant using that telephone number.  (N.T. 36;31)
  • The telephone number in question was used for verbal communications in addition to text messages.  When verbal communications occurred, Lerch heard the Defendant’s voice, which she recognized. (N.T. 36)

In addition to the above, the contents of the proffered text messages also supports their authenticity.  For example, the text messages reference the creation of a movie involving Lerch and two other people by the names of Chris and Justin.  (See, Exhibit 1).  These are the same individuals for whom the Defendant wanted salacious videos, and Lerch knew this through direct verbal communications with the Defendant.  (N.T. 26).  The text messages also revealed that the sender knew information about Lerch such as where she was located and what type of car was parked in her driveway.  (See, Exhibit 1).  In addition, one of the text messages asked Lerch: “Make sure that you delete the conversation we had about the movie so that if they want to see your phone again it’s not on there.” (See, Exhibit 1).  No human being other than the Defendant would have had the motive or knowledge to send such texts.

All of the above provides sufficient “contextual clues” to authenticate the text messages between Lerch and the Defendant.  Therefore, the Commonwealth was able to sustain its “relatively low burden of proof” to establish that the text messages were in fact sent by the Defendant.  Accordingly, we stand by the decision we rendered at trial to admit the text messages for which copies existed.  The Defendant’s appeal challenging this evidentiary decision should be denied.

 

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