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COMMONWEALTH v. BIBALO (11/09/53)

November 9, 1953

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BIBALO, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 223, Jan. T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Susquehanna County, Jan. Sessions, 1952, No. 22, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph Bibalo. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Patrick J. Sheridan, with him Morton W. Stephens, for appellant.

Robert G. Dean, District Attorney, Susquehanna County, for appellee.

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

Author: Arnold

[ 375 Pa. Page 259]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ARNOLD

A jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree and the death penalty was imposed. The only defense presented was legal insanity.

The verdict established the following facts: The defendant, 20 years of age, was making his home with his grandmother at Uniondale, Susquehanna County, and had been visiting his mother at Simpson, Lackawanna County, just previous to December 10, 1951. At about nine o'clock in the morning of that day he left her home and went to Forest City, Susquehanna County, where he arrived at about 10:00 o'clock A.M.

[ 375 Pa. Page 260]

He then went to a beer garden and had at least four drinks and began "hitch-hiking" his way to Uniondale. The victim, Anthony Shema, of Forest City, picked up the defendant. While travelling the defendant asked Shema if he were going hunting and upon receiving an affirmative answer, told him he knew of a good place to hunt, and the victim asked him to go along. In his confession the defendant said that at this time "... It thought that would be a good time to shoot him, while hunting, and I could get his car." They drove to the home of defendant's grandmother where defendant alighted, went into the house and came out with a 22 caliber rifle. They walked into the woods until they came to a stone wall, where both of them sat down. They were watching for deer and at that time, as stated by defendant in his confession, "I was again thinking about having the car, so I aimed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. He then fell off the wall and I walked over to him and I saw that he was still living, so I took the gun by the barrel and hit him over the neck, the back of the neck, and I hit him about five times until the gun broke. I guess he was dead then, so I took the parts of the gun and threw them over the wall. I then pulled his gun from under him and reached into his watch pocket and took the keys for his car and took five shells from his hunting coat."

Shortly after the killing the state police were requested to investigate a report of a missing hunter known as Anthony Shema of Forest City. The officers made inquiries at Forest City and later sent out a teletype message describing the missing hunter and his automobile. They learned that a postal clerk had seen a person driving a car similar to Shema's and that the driver had had difficulty with it. Upon receiving a description of the vehicle and the operator,

[ 375 Pa. Page 261]

    and after further inquiries, the police officers became suspicious of the defendant and went to his grandmother's home. The defendant was not there, but later the officers made the arrest. Defendant then led them to the spot where the body of Anthony Shema was found and showed them where he had thrown the parts of the gun, which he identified. The victim's car, with its license tags removed, was found in New York state near the Pennsylvania state line. The defendant stated that he had abandoned the car and removed the license plates to hide the identity of it. He made an oral confession at the time of his arrest and later signed a written statement before a justice of the peace. He then made a second trip to the scene of the crime with the officers and the coroner. The coroner's examination of the body disclosed that underneath the victim's collar a deep laceration appeared across the back ...


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