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COMMONWEALTH v. CLANTON (05/08/59)

May 8, 1959

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CLANTON, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 66, March T., 1959, from judgment of sentence of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Erie County, Nov. T., 1957, No. 61, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jeff Clanton, Jr. Judgment of sentence affirmed.

COUNSEL

Edward E. Petrillo, for appellant.

Herbert J. Johnson, Jr., District Attorney, with him Richard V. Scarpitti, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 395 Pa. Page 522]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

Defendant was indicted and tried for murder. The jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree and fixed the penalty at life imprisonment. After defendant's motion for a new trial was dismissed, he appealed to this Court.

The jury could have found from the Commonwealth's evidence and from the reasonable and legitimate inferences therefrom that the Commonwealth proved beyond a reasonable doubt the following facts:

[ 395 Pa. Page ]

Jeff Clanton, the defendant, and his alleged wife, Robbie Mae, were separated. During the afternoon and early evening of August 24, 1957, Robbie Mae was with a group of friends, including the victim, Ernest Page. Page and Robbie Mae then went to her apartment.

[ 395 Pa. Page 523]

Defendant spent much of the evening of August 24, 1957, searching for Robbie Mae. At about 1 o'clock on the morning of August 25, 1957, defendant went to Robbie Mae's apartment. Although Page was in the bedroom at that time, defendant stayed in the kitchen and did not discover Page, who was drunk and lying in his shorts across Robbie Mae's bed. Robbie Mae testified she slept on a couch in the living room. Defendant questioned her and stated that if he found them together he could "promise a good killing". Defendant then went home and loaded 8 bullets into an automatic pistol. After a restless sleep, he arose about 5 a.m., armed himself with his loaded pistol and walked nine blocks to Robbie Mae's apartment. He was a powerfully built man and was a former sparring partner of ex-heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles. He entered the apartment by breaking the door with his shoulder and found Robbie Mae in the living room. Immediately upon his entrance he cocked his pistol. At gun point he forced Robbie Mae into the bedroom where he saw Page on the bed dressed only in his shorts. Putting the gun to Page's face, defendant dragged Page by the neck onto the floor of the living room where a scuffle ensued. During the scuffle the gun was discharged and defendant shot himself in the finger. When Robbie Mae tried to dissuade defendant from his obvious purpose, defendant turned upon her and shot her through the shoulder, knocking her to the floor. Page regained his feet and ran toward the only door of exit from the apartment. Defendant fired two shots at Page. The first shot missed but the second hit Page in the center of his back, knocking him to the floor, face downward. As Page tried to rise from the floor of the room defendant stood directly over him and shot him again, this time in the chest. Defendant then turned to Robbie Mae, who was prone on the living room floor (from

[ 395 Pa. Page 524]

    the bullet wound in her shoulder) but who was still pleading with defendant to stop shooting, and shot her again, this time in the lung. Robbie Mae recovered from the shooting, but Page died from his wounds within a few hours.

Defendant's first contention is that the evidence does not sustain a first degree verdict. This is clearly and utterly devoid of merit: Commonwealth v. Ballem, 386 Pa. 20, 123 A.2d 728; Commonwealth v. Homeyer, 373 Pa. 150, 94 A.2d 743; Commonwealth ex rel. Lagana v. Day, 385 Pa. 338, 123 A. 172; Commonwealth v. Iacobino, 319 Pa. 65, 178 A. 823; Commonwealth v. Troup, 302 Pa. 246, 153 A. 337; Commonwealth v. Green, 294 Pa. 573, 144 A. 743; Commonwealth v. Jones, 355 ...


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