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COMMONWEALTH v. LAWRENCE (01/03/68)

decided: January 3, 1968.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LAWRENCE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Greene County, Dec. T., 1966, No. 15, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles David Lawrence.

COUNSEL

W. Robert Thompson, with him John E. Baily, and Thompson and Baily, for appellant.

W. Bertram Waychoff, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.

Author: Eagen

[ 428 Pa. Page 189]

Charles David Lawrence was convicted by a jury in Greene County of murder in the second degree. Post-trial motions in arrest of judgment or for a new trial were denied and a sentence of ten to twenty years imprisonment was imposed. Lawrence appeals from the judgment of sentence.

Appellant's prime contention is that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction, and, therefore, the judgment should be arrested. In evaluating the correctness of this position, we must consider the entire record and view the testimony in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth. Act of June 15, 1951, P. L.

[ 428 Pa. Page 190585]

, 19 P.S. ยง 871; Commonwealth v. Phillips, 372 Pa. 223, 93 A.2d 455 (1953); Commonwealth v. Burns, 409 Pa. 619, 187 A.2d 552 (1963); Commonwealth v. Hayes, 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 338, 209 A.2d 38 (1965). "The test of the sufficiency of the evidence is whether accepting as true all the evidence upon which, if believed, the jury could have properly based its verdict, such evidence is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged." Commonwealth v. Gockley, 411 Pa. 437, 440-441, 192 A.2d 693, 695 (1963).

As to the fact that a homicide was committed, the record discloses the following:

On Monday, January 2, 1967, the dead body of Albert Voithofer was found in a dry creek bed near a secluded dead-end road outside of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania. The head was covered with a mass of congealed blood coming from a stellate wound of the scalp on the top rear of the head. The skull had suffered a compound fracture and was partially imbedded in the brain. The sagittal sinus vein was ruptured, leading to profuse bleeding. The body was covered with bruises and the second bone of the middle finger of the left hand was broken. The trousers and underpants were down at the ankles with the lower part of the body exposed. The coat or outside jacket was pulled up underneath the armpits and over the head. An eighty foot long trail of blood, brush burns on the buttocks of the body, and fibers of cloth on a wire fence indicated that Voithofer had been dragged over the fence to the creek from a nearby road where his abandoned automobile was found and had been seen parked since early evening of the previous Saturday, December 31, 1966. The weapon used to inflict the injury to the head could not be found in the vicinity. The victim's empty wallet was discovered on the road some thirty feet from his automobile.

[ 428 Pa. Page 191]

To establish appellant's connection with the crime, the Commonwealth relied at trial upon admissions he made to relatives whom he visited shortly after the homicide. At trial Lawrence admitted the ...


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