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COMMONWEALTH v. FRANKLIN (05/04/70)

decided: May 4, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FRANKLIN, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Jan. T., 1968, No. 1854, in case of Commonwealth v. Earl Franklin.

COUNSEL

D. M. Masciantonio, for appellant.

Michael M. Baylson, Assistant District Attorney, with him James D. Crawford, Assistant District Attorney, 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 Jones. Mr. Justice Cohen dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Jones

[ 438 Pa. Page 412]

At about 7:00 p.m. on November 27, 1967, Earl Franklin had an altercation with his "girl friend,"

[ 438 Pa. Page 413]

Vanessa Stafford, outside her home on Sixth Street in Philadelphia. While he was kicking and punching her (eventually beating her, semi-conscious, to the ground), a crowd of boys formed across the street, yelling for help. As the result of their cries, Junior Jackson came out of his house which was across the street, approached Franklin and told him to stop beating Vanessa. A very brief argument ensued and Jackson inflicted a three and one-half inch knife cut on the back of Franklin's neck.

As Franklin was chasing Jackson up the street, Officer Culver arrived, at about 7:10 p.m. After being assured by Vanessa that she was all right, Culver returned to his prowl car and was about to leave when Franklin approached him and complained of having been cut. The officer testified that he volunteered to take Franklin to the hospital for medical treatment, but Franklin refused and told him, "I will get a gun and take care of the [s.o.b.] myself." When asked to clarify this statement, Franklin assured the officer that he was speaking in jest, and Culver left.

After the officer's departure, Franklin went to a nearby house, obtained a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver which he owned, and walked to a bar at the corner of Sixth and Cumberland Streets. Birdella Riley, who had been with Jackson when he cut Franklin on the back of the neck, was sitting in a car in front of the bar. Franklin arrived at about 7:20 p.m., put his gun to her head and asked where "the man" had gone. She indicated that Jackson was in the bar. As Franklin walked towards the door of the bar, Jackson came out, saw Franklin, and pulled his knife again. Franklin responded by removing the revolver from his pocket and shooting Jackson once in the left eye, the wound being fatal.

Although he claimed to have been acting in self-defense, Earl Franklin was convicted of second-degree

[ 438 Pa. Page 414]

    murder, on March 27, 1969, after a jury trial in the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. We presently have before us a direct appeal from the judgment of sentence which was entered by the ...


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