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COMMONWEALTH v. SAURBAUGH (03/22/61)

March 22, 1961

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SAURBAUGH, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 24, March T., 1961, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of York County, Oct. T., 1959, No. 98, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Russell P. Saurbaugh. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Victor Dell'Alba, for appellant.

Frank B. Boyle, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Wright

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 348]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

Russell P. Saurbaugh was brought to trial in the Court of Quarter Sessions of York County on a bill of indictment charging that he "being then and there the operator of a motor vehicle ... did strike and collide with another motor vehicle ... thereby causing damage ... and he, the said Russell P. Saurbaugh, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to stop ... and then and there wilfully and unlawfully did fail to reveal his identity and the registration number of his vehicle". This offense, commonly termed hit and run, is proscribed by Section 1027 of The Vehicle Code.*fn1 At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's testimony, a demurrer to the evidence was presented by Saurbaugh's counsel and overruled by the trial judge. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. Motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were refused by the court en banc, and sentence was imposed. This appeal followed.

Mrs. Pauline Wertz, the prosecutrix, testified that on October 31, 1959, at 11:00 P.M., she was operating a brown-colored 1951 Kaiser automobile in an easterly direction on East Princess Street in the City of York. Upon reaching the intersection of East Princess and Queen Streets, she stopped at a traffic light. At that moment an automobile, being operated south on Queen Street and turning right to go west on East Princess Street, "came around the corner ... in my lane of traffic and hit the left front end of my car ... I put my window down in the car and I asked him to pull over and stop and he attempted like he was going to, and at the same instant he took off and went down west on Princess Street. So I turned around and ... chased his car ... and ... secured his license number and I went straight to City Hall". The license number

[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 349]

    reported by Mrs. Wertz was R-57542. However, at the trial she stated that the number was actually R-57452, that the car was a cream-green Plymouth, that the driver was a man, and that there was a woman passenger. Later that evening an officer "took me to identify the car, and it was parked on South Queen Street and I identified the car ... Q. And you are sure this was the same car. A. I was positive".

Stephen H. Woodward, a bystander, testified that he witnessed the collision, that the first three numbers on the license plate of the car making the right turn were R-57, that it was an old model Plymouth or Dodge, light blue or light green, and that "there was a woman and a man in there". Later that evening he was taken by an officer to see a car parked on South Queen Street and he identified it as "the same car".

Thomas B. Chatman, Jr., a city police officer, testified that, after receiving a radio dispatch concerning the collision, he came across a light colored Plymouth automobile parked on South Queen Street, that its license number was R-57452, "and there was a woman and a man getting out of the car". He identified the man as Russell P. Saurbaugh and the woman as Romaine Hall. "I asked to see his operator's card and his owner's card and he gave them to me, and I asked him about the accident and he denied knowing anything about it ... Q. And how was it registered. A. It was registered to Russell Saurbaugh". The officer further testified that on the left front bumper of the Saurbaugh car "there was brown paint ... where it scraped along the fender". The testimony of Officer Chatman was corroborated by that of Officer George G. Smith, Jr.

Russell P. Saurbaugh testified that he was the owner of a 1951 bluish-green Plymouth, that he had been operating his vehicle that evening in the general area, but not ...


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