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COMMONWEALTH v. GARRISON (12/30/59)

December 30, 1959

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GARRISON, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 182, March T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1958, No. 12, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Garrison. Judgment affirmed. Indictment charging defendant with murder. Before LEWIS, J. Verdict of first degree murder, with penalty fixed at life imprisonment; defendant's motion for new trial and in arrest of judgment refused and judgment of sentence entered. Defendant appealed.

COUNSEL

Charles D. Coll, with him William G. Boyle, for appellant.

Samuel Strauss, Assistant District Attorney, with him William Claney Smith, Assistant District Attorney, and Edward C. Boyle, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Bok

[ 398 Pa. Page 48]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK

William Garrison was convicted of first degree murder, with penalty set at life imprisonment, for having taken part in events that caused the death of Elizabeth Ensinger, an old lady of eighty-four.

Four other persons had already been tried. Vincent Scatena pleaded not guilty, and Michael Popovich and Frank Zaffina pleaded guilty. Their offense was also fixed at murder in the first degree and their punishment at life imprisonment. Ann Dixon Garrison,

[ 398 Pa. Page 49]

    defendant's wife, was indicted as an accessory, was found guilty of murder in the second degree, and was sent to the Industrial Home for Women at Muncy.

The unusual cause of Mrs. Ensinger's death was shock and hemorrhage following a comminuted fracture of the jaw that pierced the face and constituted, medically, a "stab" wound.

The evidence reveals that Ann Garrison at one time had worked for Scatena as a waitress in his tavern. She had once lived next door to Mrs. Ensinger and had told Scatena that the old lady kept money in her house: she was supposed to be worth between seventy and a hundred thousand dollars. Scatena then sent to Cleveland for two ex-convicts, Popovich and Zaffina, to take care of some illegal business for him. On November 16, 1957, the day before the ultimate episode, Ann Garrison was introduced to Popovich in Scatena's tavern and told him that she knew he was in business for money and had a prowl job (burglary) for him in a house that was worth plenty. They were interrupted at that point and she told Popovich to talk further to Scatena about the affair.

The next day all but the Garrisons met at the tavern and after making a telephone call, Scatena said that they should go over to "meet them". They then drove to Garrison's house and found defendant working on his car. The three men spoke to defendant, who pointed out Mrs. Ensinger's house, gave them a general description of it, and told them where to find the old lady's money-box and key. After this they got into Garrison's car because the car in which they had come bore an Ohio license and they drove twice past Mrs. Ensinger's house, once in front and once in back. During this drive defendant told the others the best time and place to enter. As he left them he urged them not to hurt Mrs. Ensinger and was told that he would be taken care of.

[ 398 Pa. Page 50]

At about seven o'clock Popovich and Zaffina, leaving Scatena and a girl in their parked car, rang Mrs. Ensinger's bell and were admitted by her. They pushed her down, but when Popovich put his hand over her mouth she bit him. In exasperation he struck her and broke her jaw, giving her the injuries from which she soon died. They gagged and taped her and ransacked the house, finding no money-box and nothing of value to them save seventeen cents. Concerned over Mrs. Ensinger's condition, they hastily left the house, put in an anonymous ...


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