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COMMONWEALTH v. WHITMAN (12/12/62)

December 12, 1962

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WHITMAN, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 157 and 158, April T., 1962, from judgments of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Allegheny County, Nov. T., 1960, Nos. 417 and 418, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Whitman. Judgments of sentence affirmed; reargument refused January 4, 1963.

COUNSEL

Louis C. Glasso and Michael J. Pugliese, for appellant.

Martin Lubow, Assistant District Attorney, and Edward C. Boyle, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Woodside

[ 199 Pa. Super. Page 633]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

The question here is the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction of the appellant on the charges of possession of burglary tools*fn1 and violation of the Uniform Firearms Act.*fn2

Willia Whitman, James M. Cononico and William N. Graham of Warren, Ohio, were arrested in the Borough of Pleasant Hills, Allegheny County, late on the night of October 30, 1960, after being stopped by an officer because their automobile's tail light was not illuminated. The automobile was being operated by Cononico in whose name it had been licensed in Ohio. When the officer stopped the automobile, Whitman was sitting beside Cononico on the front seat and Graham was sleeping on the back seat. Two loaded revolvers were under the front seat and the 25 articles listed below were in the trunk.*fn3 There could be no doubt that these items, especially when considered together, came within the designation of burglary tools. One of the tools in the trunk was a sledge hammer which, according to the opinion of an expert had been

[ 199 Pa. Super. Page 634]

    used in opening a safe in a burglary which was committed in Pittsburgh several weeks before the appellant and his associates were arrested in Pleasant Hills. The three occupants of the automobile were charged with the burglary, possession of burglary tools and violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. They were tried by the court without a jury and found guilty on all charges. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgments were filed. The motion in arrest of judgment on the burglary charge was granted as to Whitman. The motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment on the other two charges against him were denied. The three defendants were sentenced. Whitman alone appealed to this Court.

The sole question before us is the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions of Whitman on the two indictments on which he was sentenced.

When the three defendants were arrested, Cononico and Graham indicated their knowledge of the tools in the trunk and gave conflicting stories concerning them. Cononico said that the firearms belonged to him. Whitman said that he knew nothing about the firearms found under the front seat and the tools found in the trunk. Whitman's conviction cannot be sustained if he had no knowledge that the firearms and tools were in the automobile. But this knowledge need not be proven by his admission of such knowledge, or by testimony of his associates that he saw these articles. The defendant's knowledge of the presence of these articles may be inferred from all the surrounding circumstances.

Inference is a process of reasoning by which a fact or proposition sought to be established (here the prisoner's knowledge of the presence of the tools in the automobile) is deduced as a logical consequence from other facts, or a state of facts, already proved or admitted. Simon v. Fine, 167 ...


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