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COMMONWEALTH v. MORRISON ET AL. (11/16/55)

November 16, 1955

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MORRISON ET AL., APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 131 and 153, April T., 1955, from judgments and sentences of Court of Quarter Sessions of Erie County, Nov. T., 1954, No. 114, and Nov. T., 1954, No. 113, in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Karl E. Morrison and Same v. Donald C. Johnson. Judgments of sentence affirmed.

COUNSEL

S. Thaddeus Kwiat, for appellants.

Damian McLaughlin, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Ervin

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 135]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

Karl E. Morrison and Donald C. Johnson were indicted on separate indictments, consolidated for the purpose of trial, and convicted under the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, § 324, 18 PS § 4324,*fn1 for hindering a witness. After their conviction motions for new trials were refused and each was sentenced to pay the costs of prosecution and undergo imprisonment for one year. These are appeals from the judgment and sentences.

Karl Morrison, one of the defendants in this case, was charged with sodomy and a preliminary hearing thereon was set before the alderman of the fourth ward in Erie, Pennsylvania, for May 17, 1954. Jack Russell was to appear at that hearing as a witness against Morrison. The hearing was continued to May 21, 1954, and then continued to May 28, 1954. On May 21, 1954 a subpoena was issued for Jack Russell to appear at the office of the alderman on May 28, 1954 at 3:30 p.m.

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 136]

The subpoena was not served prior to the May 28 hearing. Russell was served on May 29, 1954 and appeared at the hearing held on June 7, 1954. The charges against the defendants in the instant case were brought by the Commonwealth for allegedly hindering the witness, Jack Russell, from appearing at the hearing scheduled for May 28, 1954.

The principal witness for the Commonwealth was Jack Russell. He testified that on May 8 or 9 he knew Karl Morrison had been arrested on a criminal charge and that he was to be a witness against him. He testified that on or about May 17 he met both defendants at McKinley Park and was told by Morrison it would be best for him to leave Erie because he, Russell, might be charged with the same offense with which Morrison was charged. As to Morrison, Russell testified "he said that he'd give me a car to leave town with and he'd provide me money." After this conversation the testimony discloses that Morrison, Johnson and Russell went to the office of a Justice of the Peace where Morrison transferred the title to a 1940 Buick coupe to Johnson and later the same day returned with Johnson and Russell and title to the automobile was transferred from Johnson to Russell. The fees involved in this transaction were paid by Morrison with his personal check. Russell testified that Morrison suggested he go to Conneaut, Ohio and that Morrison said "he'd send me approximately $10.00 every two days." Russell then left for Conneaut, Ohio on about May 17, 1954 and while there he said he received about $40.00 to $50.00 through Johnson. Russell identified two letters he received while in Conneaut from Don Johnson, one postmarked May 25 and the other May 27.One of the letters requested Russell "If near a phone call 22414 reverse." The telephone number given is listed in the name of defendant Morrison. The letter also

[ 180 Pa. Super. Page 137]

    advises "Every thing is fairly quiet here & under control" and concludes with "P.S. And please keep entirely out of Pa." The other letter is typewritten and begins "Enclosed is money order." The words "money order'" are crossed out and above them is written "No time to get a money order. Enclosed is cash." Also included was a direction "Meantime stay over there out of sight." On cross-examination it was developed that at the time of the conversations at McInley Park Russell knew there was to be a hearing for defendant Morrison on May 17 and that Morrison told him he could get it postponed. Russell denied he went to Conneaut because he had relatives there and also denied that he ...


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