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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BARNOSKY v. MARONEY. (04/21/64)

April 21, 1964

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BARNOSKY, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY.



Appeal, No. 138, March T., 1964, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Dec. T., 1963, No. 1128, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Steve Paul Barnosky v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Steve Paul Barnosky, appellant, in propria persona.

Ferdinand F. Bionaz, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 414 Pa. Page 163]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

On January 21, 1959, Steve Ralph Barnosky, then eighteen, was shot and killed by his father, Steve Paul Barnosky, appellant. On March 2, 1959, appellant was indicted for his son's murder, and two members of the Cambria County Bar were appointed by the court to represent him. Appellant was arraigned on June 8, 1959, before the court en banc. He was then represented by both counsel. Asked by the court how he desired to plead to the indictment, he replied, "Guilty." Appellant then signed his plea on the face of the indictment and was remanded to custody pending a hearing to determine the degree of guilt.

Extensive testimony was taken before the same court en banc on August 11 and 12, 1959. On August 19, 1959, appellant was adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree. Prior to the imposition of sentence on August 24, counsel for appellant read to him the court's written opinion which stated the reasons for the court's arriving at the maximum degree of guilt. Before sentence was pronounced, the following colloquy took place between the court and the defendant:

"BY THE COURT, GRIFFITH, J.: The defendant's attention is called to the fact that this court, on the 19th of August, 1959, after having taken testimony prior to that time, did adjudicate the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree and he is now here for the purpose of having sentence imposed upon him. Mr. Barnosky, have you anything to say at this time as to why sentence should not be now pronounced upon you? BY THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I have. BY THE COURT, GRIFFITH, J.: Very well. BY THE DEFENDANT, STEVE PAUL BARNOSKY: I'm sorry that I brought this grief upon my family and my relations and it will be with me all my life. That's all." The court sentenced appellant to life imprisonment. No appeal was taken.

[ 414 Pa. Page 164]

We have carefully reviewed the testimony taken by the trial court, but our disposition of this case does not call for a detailed review of the facts. It is sufficient to note generally that decedent, on occasion, had abused his father, and appellant had previously threatened to take his son's life. On January 21, 1959, an argument and scuffle occurred in the family home, but no blows were struck. Appellant had been drinking, and, in a fit of anger, he went to his room, picked up his rifle, returned downstairs, and fired at his son, who was outside on the porch. The boy sustained a wound of the thorax and abdomen which resulted in massive hemorrhages and death.

On November 20, 1963, appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County. On November 29, 1963, the petition was dismissed without a hearing on the opinion and order of President Judge GRIFFITH, one of the members of the original court en banc which heard and passed upon appellant's plea of guilty. This appeal followed.

The first question raised by appellant reads as follows: "Did the Court err in accepting a guilty plea without advising the defendant of his right to a jury trial, and the extent of a sentence which ...


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