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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SPRANGLE v. MARONEY (01/04/67)

decided: January 4, 1967.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SPRANGLE, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1966, No. 544, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Cornelius Joseph Sprangle v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Cornelius Joseph Sprangle, appellant, in propria persona.

Edwin J. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 423 Pa. Page 590]

James Green was shot to death on December 4, 1962 in Pittsburgh. Cornelius J. Sprangle was arrested for a traffic violation in York in April 1964 and a routine check revealed that he was wanted in Pittsburgh for the murder of Green. In September 1964 Sprangle was tried by a jury on an indictment charging the murder of Green and convicted of voluntary manslaughter. At trial Sprangle admitted shooting Green, but claimed

[ 423 Pa. Page 591]

    that he did so in self-defense. This is an appeal by Sprangle from the denial without hearing of a habeas corpus petition attacking his 1964 conviction.

In the petition he presented to the court below Sprangle makes about half a dozen contentions, several of which directly or indirectly challenge the competence of his defense by court appointed counsel. We have examined the notes of testimony at the trial and believe that, under the standards laid down in Commonwealth ex rel. LaRue v. Rundle, 417 Pa. 383, 386-89, 207 A.2d 829, 831-32 (1965), when viewed as a whole, the conduct of Sprangle's defense was competent. Our view is shared by the opinion of Judge Sheely, specially presiding at trial and to whom Sprangle's habeas corpus petition was addressed.*fn1

Among the other claims which Sprangle makes are: (1) the Commonwealth's failure to produce a witness named "Lois Frankart" (2) the failure of prosecution and defense counsel to disclose the bullet and type of weapon used in the shooting (3) introduction of the defendant's prior criminal record and defense counsel's advice to defendant with regard thereto. We believe that these contentions are adequately dealt with in the following excerpts from Judge Sheely's opinion:

"The petitioner first alleges that the Commonwealth failed to produce a witness by the name of 'Lois Frankart.' There is no allegation of how Lois Frankart figured in the case or what testimony she could have given if called as a witness. Apparently the only reference to such a person at the trial was in the testimony of Frank Vetere, of the Police Homicide Squad, who testified that when he arrived at the scene after the body had been removed he got the names of certain persons including Lois or Lewis Frankart.

[ 423 Pa. Page 592]

"The District Attorney is not compelled to call all witnesses whose names are given to him or even to call all eyewitnesses to murder, so long as there is no withholding of testimony for no other reason than that it would be favorable to the defendant: Commonwealth ex rel. Haines v. Banmiller, 13 Pa. D. & C. 2d 57 (1958); 393 Pa. 439 (1958); ...


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