Superior Court Affirms Decision to Deny Petition for Review from Venango County Man Convicted of Attempted Homicide

| January 18, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – A Venango County man’s petition for review of five private criminal complaints was denied by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

According to a Superior Court document filed on January 15, 2020, Ruben R. Craig appealed the Venango County District Attorney’s decision to deny his petition for approval of five private criminal complaints.

The district attorney had filed an Application to Quash Appeal based on Craig’s substantial failure to comply with our Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Superior Court affirmed the Venango County District Attorney’s decision.

According to court documents, in May 2016, Ruben Craig was involved in an altercation with Shawn Schillinger and two other men that ended with Craig stabbing Schillinger twice in the groin. At Craig’s criminal trial, evidence was put forward that Craig was stalking and intimidating a known woman and others involved with her family. The men had allegedly confronted Craig about the stalking behavior and the stabbing then occurred.

Craig was ultimately convicted of attempted homicide for stabbing Schillinger.

The appeal was filed after five private criminal complaints that Craig attempted to file against the other two men and the known woman, which alleged they had committed various crimes related to the purported transfer of a firearm and the “assault” on Craig, were disapproved by the district attorney.

Craig then filed a Petition for Review with the trial court, claiming the disapproval was improper because he had made a prima facie case (a criminal case in which the evidence is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented). The trial court denied the petition for review because based on the facts, no offense had been made out.

The court documents note the district attorney’s investigation into the complaint was based primarily on the testimony and other evidence presented at Craig’s criminal trial, and Craig offered no additional evidence in support of his criminal complaints or Petition for Review.

In the Superior Court’s non-precedential decision order it notes that Craig insisted that when a prima facie case is alleged, the district attorney is obligated to approve the complaint. However, according to the order, this misstates the district attorney’s duties, as the district attorney may exercise discretion to decline prosecution if he or she believes it would not be in the best interest of the state.

The order notes that no evidence supported Craig’s assertion of the unlawful transfer of a firearm, or sufficient evidence regarding allegations of assault, and given the history between the parties involved, the district attorney did not believe prosecution would be successful or in the public interest, and the trial court agreed.

The Superior Court found no abuse of discretion by the trial court and found the trial court did not err in denying the Petition for Review and affirmed the decisio

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