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COMMONWEALTH v. MOON (05/27/57)

May 27, 1957

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MOON, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 243, Jan. T., 1957, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Warren County, Feb. T., 1954, No. 1, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Norman W. Moon. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Edward Dumbauld, with him Thomas A. Waggoner, Jr., and E. H. Beshlin, for appellant.

Frank P. Lawley, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, with him Harrington Adams, Deputy Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Arnold

[ 389 Pa. Page 305]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ARNOLD

The defendant, Norman W. Moon, murdered the Honorable Allison D. Wade, President Judge of Warren County. At his trial before a jury he was convicted of murder in the first degree and the jury imposed the death penalty, and defendant appeals.

[ 389 Pa. Page 306]

Moon was directed to appear before Judge Wade on a charge of failure to comply with an order of support. (See Commonwealth v. Moon, 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 334, 101 A.2d 147). The day before the date fixed for his appearance he cashed a check for $1,500 and purchased a forty-five calibre pistol, a box of shells and two clips, both of which were loaded when he entered the court room. Moon never paid anything on the support order entered against him. Having been ordered to appear before the Court of Quarter Sessions of Warren County for sentence (he was then in default $1,600 on the support order), he appeared before said court on January 13, 1954. When asked if he intended to comply with the order of support, Moon replied, "Absolutely not." When he stood before the court he drew the pistol in question, which had been loaded with one clip, and emptied the gun in various directions and at Judge Wade. Judge Wade stumbled from the dais and was prone on the floor of the court room when Moon fired two more shots. Judge Wade cried out, "Don't shoot, please don't shoot, I won't sentence you," to which Moon replied, "You God-damned ... you will never get a chance to."

Judge Wade's death was almost instantaneous. Moon then reloaded his gun and while making his escape from the court room threatened to kill attorney Bonavita who attempted to stop him. Moon got into his automobile and soon after officers stopped progress of the automobile by shooting the tires. He ten got out of the car and shot himself in the neck, and was taken to the Warren Hospital, where he recovered. Repeatedly during his trial the defendant stated that he was extremely mad or furious.

Subsequent to the verdict Moon presented a petition to appoint a commission to determine his mental condition. The court found him to be sane, but on appeal

[ 389 Pa. Page 307]

    this finding was reversed and this Court ordered a re-examination of the commission's findings and recommendation, and reconsideration of the evidence in the light of the statutory definition of mental illness. See Commonwealth v. Moon, 383 Pa. 18, 117 A.2d 96. Thereafter the lower court executed the mandate of this Court, and entered an order refusing to commit him to a mental hospital and finding that it was not satisfied that he was mentally ill. On appeal this order was affirmed. See Commonwealth v. Moon, 386 Pa. 205, 125 A.2d 594. Thereafter the court below heard the defendant's motion for new trial, denied the same, and this appeal followed.

The defendant, who took the stand on his own behalf, admitted all of the circumstances of the killing, but ...


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