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Pennsylvania (2016)

Commonwealth v. Lopez (2004) 578 PA 545

An expert witness was allowed to discuss the victim’s terror before death. 

Com. v. Best, No. 2070 MDA 2014, 2015 WL 9435137 (Pa. Super. Ct. Dec. 23, 2015), Unpublished 

The defendant strangled a prison guard to the point of loss of consciousness. Then he raped her.

The defendant claimed it was consensual sex and testified that the victim wanted to be choked. Photos of the victim’s red eyes were found to not be prejudicial and substantiated the victim’s statement that she was strangled her to loss of consciousness and then raped her.

He was found guilty.

Commonwealth v. Boddie, No. 3734 EDA 2015, 2017 WL 781674, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct. Feb. 28, 2017), Unpublished

Evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that the victim was at risk of serious bodily injury.

Commonwealth v. Magash, 2020 WL 4218867, Unpublished

The defendant repeatedly punched the victim in the face and strangled her. He was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to an aggregate 9-30 months. He appealed the sentencing, claiming that the punching and strangulation should have merged, and he should have been sentenced for one crime. The court disagreed, saying that aggravated assault and strangulation have different elements, and merger was not appropriate, so his sentence was valid.

Com. v. Leyva, 2014 WL 10914900, Unpublished

The defendant and the victim separated. The defendant found out that the victim was seeing someone else.

After a prolonged beating, a death threat, and the use of a knife, the defendant strangled the victim. She didn’t quite lose consciousness.

The neighbor called the police, and the victim was transported to the emergency room. Visible injuries were documented, including to the neck. She was discharged within five hours. The defendant fled when police arrived. He hid, but he was found and arrested. He claimed mutual combat and denied nonfatal strangulation. He was found guilty on the assault charges and not guilty of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 10-20 years. The defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence of SBI as required for aggravated assault. The victim was not found credible. The prosecutor had the victim’s statements, medical treatment/records, expert testimony, the police statement, photos, the defendant’s statement/actions, and photos. The expert testified that strangulation puts any patient at risk of SBI/death.

Commonwealth v. Richards, 240 A.3d 917 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2020), Unpublished

Where the state introduced testimony that the victim passed out and evidence of her physical injuries, as well as expert testimony from a doctor about strangulation and photos, the court found that the State met the burden of proving the elements for strangulation.

Commonwealth v. Heinold, No. 288 WDA 2019, 2019 WL 6790289, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct. Dec. 12, 2019), Unpublished

In a case where a victim testified as to strangulation and there were corroborating photos and testimony from others, the court found there was sufficient evidence to uphold a strangulation conviction.