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COMMONWEALTH v. TERENDA (04/23/69)

decided: April 23, 1969.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
TERENDA, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Criminal Courts of Allegheny County, Feb. T., 1968, No. 40, in case of Commonwealth v. David Terenda.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. Cauley, for appellant.

Thomas E. Maloney, Assistant District Attorney, with him Charles B. Watkins and Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 433 Pa. Page 521]

This is a direct appeal from a Judgment of sentence entered after the Court en banc dismissed defendant's motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial.

Appellant was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter by a jury and was sentenced to from six to twelve years for the killing of Danny Dittler on January 1, 1968, in the Beachview section of the City of Pittsburgh. Throughout the proceedings, appellant was represented by private counsel.

It is essential that the facts leading up to the death of Danny Dittler be stated in some detail. At approximately 9:30 P.M., on December 31, 1967, appellant Terenda, in the company of Roland J. Bellan and George E. Johnson, went to the home of Jane Brewer for the alleged purpose of attending a party. Although this is disputed, appellant claims that they were invited to the party. Admission to the party was at first denied, but they were eventually allowed to enter the Brewer home. While at the party, appellant struck Wally Maiers, an invited guest, with an object described as a gearshift handle. Appellant apparently mistook Maiers as being Frank Kaminsky, who had previously had an altercation with appellant.

Frank Kaminsky, who had earlier left the Brewer party, was informed that appellant and his friends were looking for him, and as a result sought the aid of his brother Joe Kaminsky. Joe Kaminsky telephoned Joseph Sarnowski, who agreed to help Frank Kaminsky. Sarnowski went to the home of Billy Tague, who was at that time playing cards with some friends at Tague's home. Joe Kaminsky, Sarnowski, Billy Tague and his friends met at a restaurant, and while there noticed a red and white camper drive past which was similar to the one in which Frank Kaminsky

[ 433 Pa. Page 522]

    had previously seen appellant and his friends that evening. Kaminsky and his friends overtook the camper and a fight ensued.

After the fight ended, Frank Kaminsky, Joe Sarnowski and their friends returned to the Sarnowski residence where they joined other couples who had been invited to a last-minute New Year's Eve party. Appellant, Bellan and Johnson returned to the Brewer home where they questioned some people regarding the whereabouts of Frank Kaminsky. Receiving unsatisfactory answers, they returned to the camper and forced Thomas Graziani, who was leaving the Brewer party, to accompany them in their search for Frank Kaminsky. Appellant and his companions drove to the Kaminsky residence. After being informed that Frank Kaminsky was not at home, one of the three stated to Kaminsky's mother, "It's a good thing he isn't home, because I'm going to kill him." After cruising around for some time, Graziani advised them to try the Sarnowski residence in their attempt to find Kaminsky. Graziani testified that he did not think anyone was home at the Sarnowski residence, and hoped that they would allow him to return home. Upon their arrival at the Sarnowski residence, Johnson and Bellan got out of the camper with their guns and proceeded up the front steps and into the Sarnowski residence. Appellant Terenda remained in the camper with Graziani. Shortly thereafter, a fight erupted and appellant got ...


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