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COMMONWEALTH v. SIMPSON (01/09/70)

decided: January 9, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SIMPSON, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1964, Nos. 1319 and 1320, in case of Commonwealth v. Wallace Simpson.

COUNSEL

I. Herman Stern, for appellant.

James D. Crawford, Assistant District Attorney, with him Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 436 Pa. Page 461]

The appellant, Wallace Simpson, was convicted by a jury in Philadelphia County of aggravated robbery, and murder in the first degree. On the latter conviction, the jury fixed the punishment at life imprisonment. Motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial were subsequently denied, and on the murder conviction the court imposed sentence as the jury directed. On the robbery conviction, a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years was imposed; the sentences to run consecutively. These appeals followed.

The basic question and the only one requiring discussion is whether or not the evidence was sufficient, as a matter of law, to sustain the convictions. We conclude not.

The Commonwealth's evidence at trial was as follows:

Edwin Duncan and Hugh Fitzpatrick operated a used automobile sales lot in Darby, Pennsylvania, under a partnership arrangement. About 10 a.m. on May 28, 1964, the appellant, Simpson, visited the lot and indicated an interest in purchasing a 1958 Mercury automobile which was then on the lot. The asking price for this vehicle was $390, but after some discussion, Duncan reduced the price to $300. Simpson said he had $100 on his person.

John Brown, a friend of Duncan, then took Simpson out for a demonstration or test ride. This covered approximately four miles in all. During this ride, Brown drove to and stopped at the home of Simpson's sister in Sharon Hill at Simpson's request. There he asked for her opinion of the car. While returning to the sales lot, a knock developed in the automobile's motor.

[ 436 Pa. Page 462]

About 11:30 a.m., Fitzpatrick left the sales lot with Simpson for a second test ride. Simpson was driving. Fitzpatrick never returned to the sales lot and was never seen alive again by his friends or associates. Efforts to locate him were fruitless. When Fitzpatrick left the lot with Simpson, Fitzpatrick had $84 in cash on his person.

About twelve noon of the same day, Simpson arrived alone at the home of a girl friend, Ida Brown, driving the 1958 Mercury. He told her, "It was his car." About two hours later, Simpson drove Miss Brown to the Holmesburg Prison to visit her brother. During the return trip, he agreed to drive her to a gas company's office, but en route the automobile broke down and was abandoned on a street in ...


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