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COMMONWEALTH v. ROBINETTE (11/13/56)

November 13, 1956

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ROBINETTE, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 220, 221 and 222, Oct. T., 1956, from judgment and sentence of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Huntingdon County, Feb. T., 1955, and May T., 1955, Nos. 14, 16, and 22, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lee Richard Robinette. Judgment and sentence affirmed.

COUNSEL

Richard W. Linton, for appellant.

Frank P. Lawley, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, with him M. B. DeForrest, District Attorney, and Herbert B. Cohen, Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Ervin

[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 348]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

Lee Richard Robinette, also known as Richard Lee Robinette, Alfred Nardi, Jr., Kenneth Storm and Thomas DeArment were jointly indicted on two counts to No. 16 February Sessions, 1955, under the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, § 302, 18 PS § 4302. The first count of this indictment charged that on or about the 9th day of August, 1954, and prior thereto, the defendants, "being at the time inmates and prisoners of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Institution for Defective Delinquents, and having been sentenced to the said Institution by competent courts of record in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, acting jointly and in pursuance of a common intent ... did unlawfully and maliciously conspire to do certain ... unlawful ... acts, to wit: (1) to take and hold one Charles Robert Elder, a guard at the said Pennsylvania Institution for Defective Delinquents ... as a hostage in order to effect an escape from the said Institution." The second count of this indictment charged that defendants unlawfully conspired to escape. The same defendants were indicted to No. 14 February Sessions, 1955 under the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872,

[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 349]

    as amended and supplemented by the Act of July 29, 1953, P.L. 1442, § 1, 18 PS § 4723.1. This indictment charged that on or about August 9, 1954 the defendants, "being at the time inmates and prisoners of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Institution for Defective Delinquents and having been sentenced to the said Institution by competent courts of record in the Commonwealth ... acting jointly and in pursuance of a common intent, did ... unlawfully, willfully, feloniously, maliciously and by force, threats and intimidation, hold as a hostage one Charles Robert Elder, a guard at the said Institution ...." In addition, the defendant Lee Richard Robinette alone was indicted to No. 22, May Sessions, 1955 under a charge of prison breach under the Act of July 29, 1953, P.L. 1445, § 1, 18 PS § 4309.

On May 11, 1955, when the cases involving Robinette were about to be called for trial, counsel for defendant presented an application for the commitment of Robinette to "an institution or mental hospital for defective delinquents" and requested that proceedings on the indictments be continued. Trial of the cases was continued and on November 23, 1955 the court below appointed a commission to inquire into the mental condition of Robinette, as authorized by the Act of June 12, 1951, P.L. 533, Art. III, § 345, and the Act of January 14, 1951-52, P.L. 2053, § 11, 50 PS § 1225. The commission held hearings and presented its report to the court below on December 6, 1955 in which it concluded, inter alia, that Robinette was not a mental defective within the meaning of the Mental Health Act. The court below adopted the findings of fact and conclusions set forth in the report of the commission*fn1

[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 350]

    and concluded that Robinette comprehended the existing situation, that he had the ability to make or aid his counsel in making a proper defense, and that he could communicate intelligently with his counsel.

The three indictments were consolidated for the trial of Robinette on December 13, 1955 who was found guilty on all charges by jury verdicts rendered on December 16, 1955. Motions for new trial and in arrest of judgment were overruled and on May 7, 1956 the defendant was sentenced to a period of not less than one nor more than two years on the one count of the conspiracy charge, and a period of not less than one nor more than two years on the other count of the conspiracy charge; to a period of not less than nine nor more than eighteen years on the charge of holding hostage; and, finally, to a period of not less than five, nor more than ten years, on the charge of prison breach. The sentences on the ...


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