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COMMONWEALTH v. UPDEGROVE (03/17/64)

March 17, 1964

COMMONWEALTH
v.
UPDEGROVE, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 202, Jan. T., 1963, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Berks County, Dec. T., 1960, No. 135, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Miriam D. Updegrove. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Alvin A. Woerle, with him John E. Ruth, and Ruth, Weidner, Woerle & Yoder, for appellant.

Peter F. Cianci, First Assistant District Attorney, with him Frederick O. Brubaker, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 413 Pa. Page 600]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

The appellant, Miriam D. Updegrove, was indicted and tried for the murder of her husband. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, and fixed the punishment at life imprisonment. A motion for a new trial was dismissed and sentence imposed in accordance with the verdict. From the judgment, this appeal is prosecuted.

While the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict is not questioned, we have carefully studied the record and determined that the necessary ingredients of murder in the first degree were established beyond a reasonable doubt. From the testimony, the jury was

[ 413 Pa. Page 601]

    warranted in finding that the defendant intentionally fired two shots into vital parts of her husband's body from a .22 calibre revolver, of single action, which had to be cocked each time it was fired, and that the decedent was lying flat in a prone position in his bed, covered with a sheet, when the shots were fired, and that one of the bullets entering the body caused wounds resulting in death.

At the trial commencing on June 12, 1961, the defense was based solely on insanity. The defendant testified that she remembered nothing about the shooting. Other witnesses called on her behalf described her conduct and appearance for a period of time before and after the occurrence, which tended to show a highly emotional and upset individual. Two medical doctors, who specialize in the field of psychiatry, stated that in their opinion the defendant was legally insane at the time of the shooting, did not know the nature or quality of her act, and did not realize she was doing wrong. A psychologist testified that as a result of certain tests administered to the defendant, it was his conclusion that she was not malingering.

The Commonwealth offered no medical testimony in refutation of that submitted by the defense. Counsel for the appellant, stressing the above fact and noting that post trial, the court had found on the basis of a report submitted by a psychiatrist that the defendant was mentally ill and ...


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