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COMMONWEALTH v. COLLINS (10/09/70)

decided: October 9, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
COLLINS, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Aug. T., 1965, No. 142, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Collins.

COUNSEL

Louis Lipschitz, with him James J. Boyle, for appellant.

Michael M. Baylson, Assistant District Attorney, with him James T. Owens, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy 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 Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 440 Pa. Page 370]

In 1966 Charles Collins was brought to trial for the murder of his wife, Violet. The jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree and the penalty was fixed at life imprisonment. This is a direct appeal from that judgment of sentence.

The evidence adduced at the trial indicated that on June 4, 1965, Collins and his family went on a shopping trip and came home late in the afternoon. While Collins' wife and children went down the street to visit a neighbor, Collins went inside his own house for a short time and then asked a neighbor to walk down the street and call his wife home. When Mrs. Collins arrived at the house Collins beat her to death with a hammer, an event witnessed by a young girl who lived nearby. Upon discovering that he had been observed, Collins enjoined the girl never to tell anyone what she had

[ 440 Pa. Page 371]

    seen and then left. As Collins drove away from his home two people heard him say "I just killed Violet." A short time later the Collins children discovered their mother's lifeless body.

Collins now argues that his conviction must be reversed for six reasons, none of which persuade us that he should prevail and which we will discuss severally.

Collins' first argument is that the trial court abused its discretion in permitting the Commonwealth to show the jury a colored slide depicting the decedent's head injuries, because the slide's evidentiary value was far outweighed by the potential prejudice to Collins. Although Collins has correctly set forth the applicable test, see Commonwealth v. Robinson, 433 Pa. 88, 249 A.2d 536 (1969); Commonwealth v. Wilson, 431 Pa. 21, 244 A.2d 734 (1968); Commonwealth v. Powell, 428 Pa. 275, 241 A.2d 119 (1968), we cannot find that the trial court abused its discretion in permitting the slide to be shown. The slide was as noninflammatory as possible because all excess blood had been removed from the decedent's face before the photograph was taken, so this is not a case where some less inflammatory version of the slide could have been utilized. Cf. Commonwealth v. Eckhart, 430 Pa. 311, 242 A.2d 271 (1968). Additionally, the trial court found as a fact that the slide was necessary to the jury's understanding of the medical examiner's testimony, a finding we cannot dispute. Hence we find that the slide was neither so inflammatory nor so unnecessary as to be inadmissible.

Collins' second contention is that the trial court erred both in permitting a police officer to testify that Collins fled when the officer attempted to arrest him and in charging the jury that evidence of flight might indicate consciousness of guilt. There was ...


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