The Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Beasley, No. 1149 WDA 2014 (April 28, 2016), holding that the evidence was sufficient to support Beasley’s convictions for Terroristic Threats, Intimidation of Witnesses and Criminal Conspiracy after posting a rap video, threatening officers involved in pending charges, even though his “momma told [him] not to ….”


On November 21, 2013, the court found Beasley guilty of two counts each of intimidation of witnesses and terroristic threats, and one count each of criminal conspiracy and hindering apprehension. Beasley was sentenced to 12-36 months incarceration, plus 2 years probation for intimidation of witnesses. The court imposed concurrent 2-year terms of probation on the second intimidation of witnesses count, and each of his 2 terroristic threat counts, and a concurrent term of 6-12 months incarceration for hindering apprehension.

The charges stemmed from YouTube pages that showed rap music videos made by Beasley and a co-Defendant, Knox. One of the videos was entitled “Fuck the Police.” The video showed pictures of Beasley and Knox, and the song referenced Officers who were involved in prior incidents for which charges were pending against Beasley. (Anyone interested in reading the lyrics to the rap video (RECOMMENDED) should click on the link to the case (BELOW) as the lyrics are as instructional for how to make a bad rap video as they are for how to rap yourself into criminal charges.)


Beasley raised a number of issues on appeal including, for the purposes of this post, challenges to the sufficiency of evidence regarding his convictions for the offenses of Terroristic Threats; Intimidation of Witnesses; and Conspiracy.


The evidence was sufficient to support Beasley’s convictions of the offenses at issue.



For a defendant to be convicted of terroristic threats, the Commonwealth must prove that (1) the defendant made a threat to commit a crime of violence and (2) the threat was communicated with the intent to terrorize another or with reckless disregard for the risk of causing terror.

Beasley did not claim that he did not sing the words of his rap song, which unquestionably threatened violence. Further, he did not suggest that the officers never saw the threatening video. Rather, Beasley argued that he did not intentionally or recklessly communicate the threat to the officers.

Terroristic threats do not have to be communicated directly.

The Superior Court concluded that, in this case, they “need not ponder whether deciding to broadcast songs or linking YouTube videos to one’s Facebook page generally indicates intent to communicate,” because Beasley stated his intent by saying in his rap song: “My momma told me not to put this on C.D., but I’m gonna make this fuckin city believe me, so nigga turn me up.” Accordingly, the Superior Court wrote that Beasley “chose not to listen to his mother because he wanted Officers Zeltner and Kosko to hear his message, and they did.” He therefore successfully and intentionally communicated his threat, according to the Court.


In PA, a person commits an offense if, with the intent to or with the knowledge that his conduct will obstruct, impede, impair, prevent or interfere with the administration of criminal justice, he intimidates or attempts to intimidate any witness or victim to … withhold any testimony, information, document or thing relating to the commission of a crime from any law enforcement officer, prosecuting official or judge.

Beasley argued there was insufficient evidence to convict him of intimidation of a witness or attempt thereof, because the Commonwealth did not present evidence that he posted the video on YouTube with the intent of getting the police to do any of the enumerated objectives in the intimidation statute.

Beasley posted a rap song on YouTube that specifically threatened to kill Officers Zeltner and Kosko while he had criminal charges pending against him in which these officers were going to testify. Accordingly, the Superior Court concluded that this was sufficient evidence from which the court could infer that Beasley posted the video in an attempt to interfere with the administration of the justice system by convincing the police to withhold testimony, and from which the court found the elements of intimidation of a witness beyond a reasonable doubt.


In PA, a person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he: (1) agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or (2) agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime. Beasley and Knox made a YouTube video together in which they threatened to kill Officers Zeltner and Kosko, a communication which supported Beasley’s terroristic threats and intimidation of witness convictions.

Beasley argued that he and Knox never conspired to commit any crime, and thus they could not be guilty of criminal conspiracy. He admitted that they made the video together but contended it was not a crime to do so. The Superior Court concluded, however, that Beasley’s creation of the video was an overt act, and that he and Knox were therefore part of a criminal conspiracy to commit terroristic threats and intimidation of witnesses.

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