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COMMONWEALTH v. FARROW (05/23/55)

May 23, 1955

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FARROW, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 144, Jan. T., 1955, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, Mar. T., 1943, No. 414, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. David Farrow. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

A. A. Guarino, for appellant.

Christopher F. Edley, Assistant District Attorney, with him Victor Wright, Assistant District Attorney, and Samuel Dash, Acting District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 382 Pa. Page 61]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On June 4, 1943, David Farrow, having entered a general plea of guilty to murder, was adjudged guilty of that offense in the first degree by a Court composed

[ 382 Pa. Page 62]

    of MCDEVITT, P.J., SMITH, P.J., and FLOOD, J., which fixed the penalty at life imprisonment. On August 4, 1954, Judge LEVINTHAL following the granting of a writ of habeas corpus, vacated the 1943 judgment, reinstated the indictment and ordered a new trial. At the second trial, the defendant again pleaded guilty to murder, this time before a Court composed of LEWIS, P.J., CARROLL, J., and SPORKIN, J., which also assessed the degree of murder at first degree and once more imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. The defendant has appealed to this Court from the judgment of sentence of the Court.

The story of the homicide in this case is as sordid as it is devoid of any moral principles in the realm of dignity and decency of life. On the night of February 5, 1943, the defendant took his "common law wife," Lillian Davis, to a secluded and darkened spot under a railroad trestle in the vicinity of Washington and 25th Streets, Philadelphia, stabbed her thirteen times and left her face downwards in the dirt. He returned to his home, wiped the blood from the knife he had used, went to bed and for five days feigned complete ignorance of the criminal venture. He was then apprehended by the police whereupon he voluntarily gave a statement in which he admitted his murderous deed.

The defendant and his victim had lived together from 1937 to 1940 in a meretricious relationship which had produced two children who became the subject of an oral altercation between them on the homicidal night of February 5, 1943. Visiting the home where the children resided, Farrow was informed by the landlady that the mother who was not there at the time had neglected the children and for a week had not washed their faces. From the children's home the defendant proceeded to a saloon called "The Point"

[ 382 Pa. Page 63]

    where he had a "couple of drinks." He then went to another taproom at 21st and Federal Streets where he found Lillian Davis drinking. He reproached her for her indifference to their offspring and then argued with her as he walked her to the fateful trestle where, according to his own ...


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