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March 25, 1954


Appeal, No. 52, Jan. T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Oyer & Terminer of Lebanon County, Dec. T., 1952, No. 2, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Harold Groy Donough. Judgment affirmed.


L. E. Meyer, with him James R. Whitman and Meyer, Brubaker & Whitman, for appellant.

William H. Egli, District Attorney, with him G. Thomas Gates, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 377 Pa. Page 47]


Defendant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to not less than 6 year nor more than 12 years imprisonment. He alleges numerous errors in the charge of the Court as well as errors pertaining to suicide. The only material facts concerning what took place at or about the time of the death of Mrs. Irene Carpenter Krochell came from the statements or a confession or testimony of defendant.

Defendant, a married man with several children, was having a couple of beers at a diner when Mrs. Krochell came up to him and started talking. After some drinking she invited him up to her room at the Stratford Hotel, where he got a room close to hers. After going to his room, they then went into her room which was several doors away. She immediately undressed and lay down on the bed, and they then had intercourse. After that, she left the room to go down to the hotel lobby to get a book or a paper, having first put on a thin nightgown and a coat over it. Defendant returned to his room but about 5 minutes later saw Irene pass by and went over once more to her room. She was lying on her bed in her nightgown reading a gray-colored book. He then attempted to again have

[ 377 Pa. Page 48]

    intercourse with her. She jumped up, got to the end of the bed when he grabbed her and asked her to again have intercourse. She said, "'Nothing doing, Harold'... 'If you don't have enough, I am going to jump out the window.'"*fn*

"Well, I told her, 'Well, I will go home then.' So as we parted there she went toward the window and I seen that she had lifted up the window, and I backed out the door. When I opened the door ready to back out, I took notice she was hunched at the window... So I thought, well, she is just fooling or something; so I closed the door... I went over to my room,... sat down on my bed... about four, five minutes and I thought, well, I will go over. I tried the door knob and at first it didn't open up. So I gave another harder twist and then it opened up. When I opened the door I seen that the window -- she was not there. So right there I got frightened and I fled. .."

Defendant's testimony was quite different from a prior confession and several prior conflicting statements he had made from which the jury could have believed that he wilfully and intentionally killed Irene either with premeditation or with malice or in resentment and anger. The material part of his confession is as follows:

"I, Harold Groy Donough, make this statement in the office of and in the presence of William H. Egli, the District Attorney of Lebanon County, G. Thomas Gates, the Assistant District Attorney, Lt. Roy Kirst, Sgt. Abe Wills, Detective Lloyd Wood" (Wolfe) "and Susan Flindell, the District Attorney's Stenographer. I make this statement freely and voluntarily without force, threats or intimidation and without any special promises but with the thought to clear up the mystery

[ 377 Pa. Page 49]

    regarding the death of Irene Krochell... we had intercourse... Then she left for the hotel lobby with a gray coat on. In a few seconds she was back with a book. Then we sat and she started talking about her husband. She said 'he is over in Korea'. That she hopes he gets shot because she don't like him. Then... I asked her again to have another intercourse, she said 'no', she had enough. Then we started to tussle. Then we were tasseling a little bit and fighting. She fought, pulling away. I had a hold of her waist, while we were tasseling. Then she flew back against the window, bumped her head somewhere on the window, and I thought she was dead. Her body partly laid out the window. I crawled over, got underneath her arms, pulled her down to the roof, then got hold of her wrist, dragged her on her back until I almost fell off the roof and just rolled her over the roof. I believe she hit her head on the side of the windowsill. I ran out of the room closed her door and mine, ran down the hallway, through the front entrance, got my truck and went home. I was home approximately around 2:30 a.m., November 7...

"I pulled Irene's body over to the edge of the roof and pushed her off the roof to make it look like she had ...

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