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COMMONWEALTH v. LOOSER (12/17/59)

December 17, 1959

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LOOSER, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 148, April T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery of Crawford County, Feb. T., 1958, No. 48, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lawrence Jack Looser. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Martin E. Cusick, with him Albert E. Acker, F. Joseph Thomas, and Wiesen, Cusick, Madden, Joyce, Acker and McKay, for appellant.

P. Richard Thomas, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).

Author: Woodside

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 256]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

The appellant is seeking a new trial after his conviction by a jury of involuntary manslaughter. The charge grew out of an automobile accident in which two passengers of the car which he was operating were killed. After refusing the defendant's motion for a new trial, the court below imposed the sentence from which this appeal was taken.

The evidence supports the jury's verdict. During the early morning of September 8, 1957, five young men - Looser, Wilt, Niederriter, Reash and Stuyvesant,

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 257]

- were drinking at the Causeway Inn at Andover, Ohio, a few miles from the Pennsylvania border. There is no evidence that Looser, the defendant in this case, was drunk, but he admits that he had three or four bottles of beer that night. At about 3:30 A.M., these men left the inn and drove into Pennsylvania. They had talked about going to the V.F.W. in Linesville and were traveling in that direction, but whether or not the defendant intended going there is doubtful.

The defendant, with Wilt and Niederriter as passengers, was the first to drive away from the inn. Reash, with Stuyvesant as a passenger, followed Looser a few moments later. Reash immediately passed several cars in order to have no vehicles between the automobile he was operating and the defendant's automobile. For approximately six miles the two automobiles remained approximately 100 yards apart, traveling at a speed of approximately 65 to 70 miles per hour. Both drivers either slowed down or stopped their vehicles at a stop sign along the way, but again accelerated their speed to over 60 miles per hour.

When the automobile which the defendant was operating started around an "S" curve, Reash and Stuyvesant momentarily lost sight of it. A few seconds later they saw a cloud of dust and then the defendant's wrecked car ahead of them standing across most of the 18 foot paved portion of the road. In order to avoid striking the defendant's car, Reash drove off the highway and over a bank. On the way down the bank, the automobile turned completely over coming to rest upright on its wheels with Reash and Stuyvesant in the car unhurt. On the road above them were their three friends, Wilt and Niederriter dead, and Looser seriously injured, all lying beside Looser's wrecked car.

Reash's license to operate a motor vehicle had been suspended, he had been drinking heavily that night, and he was operating a car without the owner's consent.

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 258]

He was in trouble and knew it. He went up to the highway, looked at the carnage, returned to his car, drove it up to the road and, along with Stuyvesant, left the scene. The case against Reash is not be fore us.

At the trial of Looser here being reviewed, Reash, who was in jail at the time, and Stuyvesant testified to the events substantially as set forth above. In evaluating their testimony, it might be noted that they were friends of Looser, and, as stated in the ...


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