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COMMONWEALTH v. PATSKIN (11/17/53)

November 17, 1953

COMMONWEALTH
v.
PATSKIN, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 313, Jan. T., 1953, from order of Court of Oyer & Terminer of Lackawanna County, Oct. T., 1951, No. 10, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Patskin. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Myron A. Pinkus, with him Alphonsus L. Casey, for appellant.

Carlon M. O'Malley, District Attorney and Frank P. Lawley, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, with them Thomas J. Foley and Ralph P. Needle, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert E. Woodside, Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 375 Pa. Page 370]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

William Patskin was indicted and tried in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Lackawanna County in October, 1951, for the murder of his wife. The jury found him guilty of first degree murder and fixed the penalty at death. The murder was a particularly brutal one. Defendant made several detailed confessions and reenacted the crime in the presence of police officers. Nevertheless, he pleaded "not guilty", interposed the defense of insanity and did not take the witness stand or deny anything.

After a careful review of the testimony, we affirmed the conviction in 372 Pa. 402, 93 A.2d 704, and in the course of our opinion said: "... The defendant's actions, statements and confessions -- even without the corroborating testimony of the Commonwealth's expert witnesses and lay witnesses -- wholly refute the opinion evidence of defendant's expert medical witnesses. As Justice (now Chief Justice) STERN said in Commonwealth v. Heller, 369 Pa. 457, 461, 462, 87 A.2d 287: '... defendant's actions in the present

[ 375 Pa. Page 371]

    case, speaking louder than his words, wholly refute the opinion evidence of the expert medical witness....' In this case the jury must have believed, as we do, that the delusions were concocted by the defendant for the trial. Defendant's doctors based their opinion of insanity 75 per cent on defendant's alleged delusions and placed great reliance upon the fact that defendant did not hide the body; that the killing was brutal and uneconomical;*fn* that defendant readily gave himself up; and showed no remorse or sense of guilt of having killed the woman he hated. If evidence such as this were sufficient to prove legal insanity and to prevail over acts and statements clearly evidencing sanity, few 'murderers' would ever be convicted.*fn**

"We are absolutely convinced from reading the entire testimony that the jury's verdict was just and proper...."

Defendant thereafter applied to the State Board of Pardons for commutation of his sentence, but ...


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