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COMMONWEALTH v. HOMEYER (02/13/53)

February 13, 1953

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HOMEYER, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 247, Jan. T., 1952, from judgment and sentence of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Wyoming County, June Sessions, 1951, No. 1, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles E. Homeyer. Sentence and judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Davis R. Hobbs and Roy A. Gardner, with them Hobbs & Gardner, for appellant.

Robert W. Trembath, District Attorney, with him Robert E. Farr and Kenneth Lee, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 373 Pa. Page 152]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

Defendant was found guilty of murder in the first degree and the penalty was fixed at death. His counsel cited over 80 reasons for a new trial; 9 of these are pressed on this appeal.

On March 28th or March 29th, 1950, Anna Snelleman Homeyer, wife of the defendant, died or was murdered in their residence in Factoryville, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. On March 7, 1951, a well preserved head, which had been severed from the body at the neck, and a part of the pelvis of a female were found encased in concrete buried in a wash tub in the cellar of the Homeyer home. The head was identified as that of Anna Snelleman Homeyer.

The defendant told so many different and conflicting stories to so many people that it would take a great many pages to recount them, or even to enumerate his fabrications. It will suffice we believe to give the following brief summary.

The defendant told the District Attorney and the police that March 28, 1950, was Anna Homeyer's birthday. Although he alleges she had no friends, she became angry, according to him, because no one called on her to wish her a happy birthday. Consequently defendant went to a store and purchased a cake and whipping cream for the purpose of making her a birthday cake. When he went back to her bedroom he found her dead. She had been sickly for five years and had had high blood pressure. On the floor in her bedroom defendant said he found a sleeping pill and an empty bottle which he had received from Doctor Patrick the day before and which had contained 20 Napentals. He said the bottle was open and only one capsule remained. Eighteen capsules would be a fatal dosage to a person in the physical condition of Anna Homeyer. Upon discovering the body defendant alleged that he was

[ 373 Pa. Page 153]

    seized with panic; fearing he would be held responsible for his wife's death, he decided to dispose of her remains. According to his story he carried the body to the bathroom and dismembered it; then he burned certain portions of her body in the furnace of their home on the night of March 29th and the night of March 30th. He said the odor from the burning body was so terrible it made him sick and he had to drive around the country for several hours. Neighbors testified that they smelled the odor and the nearer they got to the Homeyer house the stronger the stench became. Defendant then buried his wife's head and the portion of the pelvis in cement in the cellar of the residence. Defendant put her stomach and some of her intestines in a package and part of the torso, legs and arms in another package and threw one into the Susquehanna River at Owego on March 29th, and the other package into the Delaware River at Delaware Water Gap on the 30th. He then left town on March 31st and went to Florida and then to California.

Defendant, like most defendants, proceeds on the assumption that you must believe all of his statements or confessions; of course, that is erroneous; a jury can believe all or a part of or none of a defendant's statements, confessions or testimony. The theory of the defense is that Anna committed suicide, and the dismemberment of her body after she was dead does not constitute a crime. Defendant's principal contention on this appeal is that, apart from his own statements or confessions, ...


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