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COMMONWEALTH v. SNYDER (06/28/62)

June 28, 1962

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SNYDER, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 215, Jan. T., 1962, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Montgomery County, Nov. T., 1960, No. 181, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. George M. Snyder. Judgment affirmed; reargument refused July 24, 1962.*fn*

COUNSEL

David Kanner, with him James R. Caiola, for appellant.

Harold W. Spencer, District Attorney, with him Thomas E. Waters, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 408 Pa. Page 254]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

Appellant-defendant shot and killed his brother-in-law during the course of an argument. He was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter. From the

[ 408 Pa. Page 255]

    judgment of conviction and sentence this appeal is prosecuted.

No question is pressed as to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict of the jury, nor could there be with any merit. However, it is argued that alleged trial errors require the grant of a new trial.

The defendant testified on his own behalf and attempted to portray the shooting as accidental. In rebuttal, for the purpose of attacking his credibility, the Commonwealth offered in evidence the defendant's plea of nolo contendere entered eight years before to an indictment charging the crime of embezzlement. It is asserted that its admission was error. To this, we cannot subscribe.

As stated in Commonwealth v. Butler, 405 Pa. 36, 173 A.2d 468 (1961), at 46, 47; "It has been the law in Pennsylvania for decades that whenever a witness or a Defendant takes the witness stand, his testimony may be impeached by showing prior convictions of felonies, or misdemeanors in the nature of crimen falsi ..." This is still the law in Pennsylvania. Further, for the purposes of impeaching a defendant's credibility, a conviction had upon a plea of nolo contendere has the same force and effect as a conviction on a plea of not guilty and the record is competent evidence of the fact of conviction: Commonwealth v. Albert, 169 Pa. Superior Ct. 318, 82 A.2d 695 (1951). The trial court carefully instructed the jury as to the limited purpose for which this testimony was admitted.

It is also argued that the defendant was unduly prejudiced by the fact that during the course of the trial, the district attorney caused to be exhibited and identified a small vial, or test tube, of blood allegedly taken from the body of the deceased victim. Its materiality to any relevant issue was not sustained, the exhibit was not ...


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