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COMMONWEALTH v. EWING (04/22/70)

decided: April 22, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
EWING, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Adams County, Feb. T., 1965, No. 4, in case of Commonwealth v. Curtis Eugene Ewing.

COUNSEL

Murray B. Frazee, Jr., Public Defender, for appellant.

Ronald J. Hagarman, Special Assistant 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

[ 439 Pa. Page 89]

On April 26, 1965, while represented by counsel, appellant Curtis Ewing pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife, Cleo. A degree-of-guilt hearing was held in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Adams County. Appellant was found guilty of murder in the first degree

[ 439 Pa. Page 90]

    and sentenced to life imprisonment. No appeal was taken.

After a Court hearing on November 6, 1968, pursuant to the Post Conviction Hearing Act, the Court, on April 18, 1969, concluding that the defendant had not knowingly waived his right to appeal from the original judgment and sentence, granted him leave to file an appeal nunc pro tunc. The sole issue presented in this appeal*fn* is whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence at the degree-of-guilt hearing to raise the degree of guilt and justify a finding of murder in the first degree.

Appellant admits that he killed his wife but contends (a) that he did not intend to kill her, but only to frighten or wound her, and (b) that the Commonwealth has not met its burden of showing the specific intent which is required for conviction of murder in the first degree. We disagree.

We believe it will help answer appellant's contentions if we first state the pertinent principles of law before reviewing and analyzing the evidence.

In Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 215 A.2d 857, this Court said (page 6): "A plea of guilty to an indictment for murder constitutes an admission or confession of guilt of the crime of murder, with the degree of murder to be determined and fixed by the Court. A defendant ...


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