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COMMONWEALTH v. BALDASSARRE (05/04/60)

May 4, 1960

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BALDASSARRE, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 120, Jan. T., 1960, from order of Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery of Delaware County, Dec. T., 1959, No. T-89, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Ezio Baldassarre. Record remanded.

COUNSEL

Reuben E. Cohen, with him Nathan B. Feinstein, Alvin S. Ackerman, and Cohen, Shapiro and Cohen, for appellant.

Clement J. McGovern, Assistant District Attorney, with him Jacques H. Fox, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Bok

[ 399 Pa. Page 413]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK.

On October 3, 1959, appellant, aged 67, surrendered to the Delaware County police, saying that he had just killed his wife.

A week later he filed a petition for a Sanity Commission and one was appointed by the court below: it found appellant mentally ill but not of criminal tendency. In a supplementary report it found him unable to comprehend his position, unable to confer with counsel, and unable to make a rational defense, and in addition to describing his symptoms and behavior it reported a history of treatment from 1948 to 1951, in 1955, and in 1959, including two periods in a mental hospital under shock therapy. It added that in the opinion of the commissioners his condition, which stems from cerebral sclerosis, would not improve but would worsen.

Appellant was indicted for murder after the court below, on November 20, had approved the Commissioners' report and had found that appellant was mentally ill. However, it disagreed with the commission's ultimate conclusion and found that appellant was of criminal tendency. The court then ordered him committed to Farview State Hospital. This appeal followed.

In its opinion the court said: "The Court considered the nature of the crime, the former mental condition of the defendant, his repeated need of treatment, his attempt to strangle himself, and the finding of the commission that his mental condition would not improve but would gradually become worse..."

The court also referred to the defendant's "failure, omission, and violation of duty" (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed., "Delinquency"), as evidence of habitual delinquency, and declared that Farview would best guarantee maximum protection to both defendant and the community.

[ 399 Pa. Page 414]

The Mental Health Act of June 12, 1951, P.L. 533, 50 PS § 1071 et seq., specifies in Art. II, § 230(b), 50 PS § 1140(b), that the "Farview State Hospital shall be exclusively devoted to the care of patients convicted of crime or with criminal tendencies." And Art. I, § 102(4), 50 PS § 1072(4), lists "tendency to habitual delinquency" as a meaning of "criminal tendency". Finally, it is clear from Art. III, § ...


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