Character Evidence Alone to Proof of Reasonable Doubt

The supreme court has reiterated: It is well established that character evidence alone may be sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt and thus justify an acquittal of the charges. Commonwealth v. Scott, 496 Pa. 188, 195 n.1, 436 A.2d 607, 611 n.1 (1981); Commonwealth v. Cleary, 135 Pa. 64, 82-83, 19 A. 1017, 1018 (1890). In Commonwealth v. Weiss, this Court stated that: where there are only two direct witnesses involved, credibility of the witnesses is of paramount importance and character evidence is critical to the jury's determination of credibility. Evidence of good character is substantive, not mere make-weight evidence, and may, in and of itself, create a reasonable doubt of guilt, and thus require a verdict of not guilty. Weiss, 530 Pa. 1, 6, 606 A.2d 439, 442 (1992) (citing Commonwealth v. Neely, 522 Pa. 236, 561 A.2d 1 (1989)). Commonwealth v. Morgan, 559 Pa. 248, 255, 739 A.2d 1033, 1037 (1999). the same court in Cleary, supra, had explained: Evidence of good character is always admissible for the defendant in a criminal case; it is to be weighed and considered in connection with all the other evidence in the cause, it may of itself, in some instances, create the reasonable doubt which would entitle the accused to an acquittal. the rule itself is not merely merciful. It is both reasonable and just. There may be cases in which, owing to the peculiar circumstances in which a man is placed, evidence of good character may be all he can offer in answer to a charge of crime. Of what avail is a good character, which a man may have been a lifetime in acquiring, if it is to benefit him nothing in his hour of peril ? Cleary, supra at 84, 19 A. at 1018.