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COMMONWEALTH v. CHURCH (06/13/68)

decided: June 13, 1968.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CHURCH, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Delaware County, Dec. T., 1966, Nos. 156, 157, and 159, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edward A. Church.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Damico, Jr., with him Chadwick, Petrikin, Ginsburg & Wellman, for appellant.

Vram Nedurian, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, with him Ralph B. D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorney, William R. Toal, First Assistant District Attorney, and Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Opinion by Montgomery, J.

Author: Montgomery

[ 212 Pa. Super. Page 346]

This is an appeal by Edward Arnold Church, one of the defendants, from a judgment of sentence following verdicts of guilty before a judge and jury on charges of robbery, burglary and larceny and receiving stolen goods.

The evidence, though circumstantial, was sufficient to support the verdicts, and appellant's motion in arrest of judgment was properly overruled. Appellant Church entered Deger's jewelry store in Chester, Pennsylvania about 9:45 a.m., alone and unarmed. He told the saleswoman, Mrs. Hester, he desired to purchase a bracelet for his wife. Some five minutes later, after he had been shown various items, two masked men entered the store. One of the men held a twelve-inch gun against Mrs. Hester; the other man, wearing a turban, ordered Church to "get the money". Church obtained the money from the cash register and with the turbaned man removed money, diamond rings, and watches from the safe. The masked men then departed, leaving Church and the saleswoman in the store.

[ 212 Pa. Super. Page 347]

In response to her inquiry, Church told Mrs. Hester he could not identify the men. She called the police, and although she asked Church to stay, he replied, "I have to go, nobody is going to shoot you in broad daylight, I will see you tomorrow", and left. A week later the police arrested Church at his residence in Chester and found two pawn tickets on his person, in his name, for two of the diamond rings stolen in the robbery. Church was not identified as the person who pawned the rings beyond the fact of his name on the tickets. The police obtained the rings from the pawnshop in Philadelphia.

Appellant testified he did not return to the scene of the robbery as promised because of a conversation he had with his attorney. The trial judge ruled that any evidence relating to the substance of his conversation with his attorney was inadmissible as hearsay. Appellant contends the exclusion of this evidence as hearsay was error. However, he was permitted to show the fact of the conversation with his attorney, and that as a result of that conversation he decided not to return to the robbery scene. Appellant received all he was entitled to, and the exclusion of the substance of the conversation with counsel was not reversible error, aside from the question of whether the excluded testimony was hearsay.

Appellant's main contention is that the Commonwealth was permitted to introduce through cross-examination, evidence of prior criminal charges, and his criminal record in general, in violation of the rule that only convictions of misdemeanors and felonies in the nature of crimen falsi may be used to impeach credibility.

Here appellant took the stand in his own behalf and called witnesses to establish his good character. The general rule is clear ...


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