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COMMONWEALTH v. THATCHER (03/20/50)

March 20, 1950

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
THATCHER



Appeal, No. 32, March T., 1950, from order and judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Beaver County, Sept. T., 1949, No. 13, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert E. Thatcher. Appeal quashed.

COUNSEL

James B. Ceris, Special Assistant District Attorney, with him William Coghlan, District Attorney, for appellant.

John D. Ray, with him J. Frank Kelker and Reed, Ewing & Ray, for appellee.

Before Maxey, C.j., Drew, Linn, Stern, Stearne and Jones, JJ.

Author: Maxey

[ 364 Pa. Page 327]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE MAXEY

This is an appeal taken by the Commonwealth from the judgment of the court below sustaining the defendant's demurrer to a count charging murder and to a count charging voluntary manslaughter. On September 12, 1949, the grand jury returned against Robert E. Thatcher, a police officer of Beaver Falls, Beaver County, an indictment containing three counts: murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. The victim named in the indictment was Sebastian Medaglia, Jr. At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case counsel for defendant demurred to the evidence as to all counts in the indictment. The

[ 364 Pa. Page 328]

    court sustained the demurrer to the first and second counts and overruled the demurrer as to the count of involuntary manslaughter. The Commonwealth filed exceptions to the judgment sustaining the demurrer. The trial proceeded and the defendant was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.

At 10:00 P.M. on July 8, 1949, Medaglia departed alone in his automobile from his home on 12th Street, Beaver Falls, with the intention of going to work at a restaurant located at 35th Street and 4th Avenue. He stopped at a restaurant at 19th Street and 7th Avenue. Thatcher, a city policeman then off duty, was, in company with his wife, driving his automobile northwardly along 7th Avenue, when at about 10:15 P.M. he stopped Medaglia's automobile, forcing the Medaglia automobile to the curbstone, both cars facing in the same direction. The defendant walked over to Medaglia's automobile and while talking to Medaglia shook his clenched fist at him. Both men then left and the next scene was at police headquarters at 10:25 P.M.

What took place at the police station is described in the opinion of the court below, as follows: "John G. Harrison, patrolman and desk clerk, said he was on duty at the desk, and Thatcher, who was not in uniform and not on duty, came into the police station in company with Medaglia. Thatcher informed Harrison that Medaglia ran through a stop sign and almost smashed into his car. Harrison advised Thatcher to write Medaglia up for going through the stop sign. Thatcher told Harrison he had a charge for disorderly conduct against Medaglia. Harrison said Medaglia made no response to these statements. Thatcher asked Medaglia for his driver's card and Harrison asked him for his cards and Harrison told Medaglia to give Thatcher the cards. Medaglia then said 'that is the way you damn cops are.' Harrison received a telephone call, and turned to the switchboard. Medaglia and Thatcher were talking

[ 364 Pa. Page 329]

    very loudly, and Harrison asked them to be quiet. Harrison again turned to the telephone, and completed his conversation. When he turned around, he saw Thatcher alone, standing in front of the counter. He walked over to the counter, looked over it and saw Medaglia lying on the floor. The foregoing testimony is the only testimony in the record of ...


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