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COMMONWEALTH v. WRONA (03/18/71)

decided: March 18, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
WRONA



Appeals from orders of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Oct. T., 1968, No. 668, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph Francis Wrona.

COUNSEL

Joseph Michael Smith, with him F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., James J. Wilson, and Fitzpatrick and Smith, for defendant.

Arlen Specter, District Attorney, with him Martin H. Belsky and Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorneys, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, and Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 442 Pa. Page 203]

On April 23, 1969, Joseph F. Wrona, Jr., was convicted in Philadelphia of voluntary manslaughter after a trial before the Honorable Edward J. Bradley, sitting without a jury.

Wrona's motion for arrest of judgment or, in the alternative, a new trial was subsequently denied, and at the time fixed for sentencing the trial judge directed that Wrona serve eight year's probation under the supervision of the State Parole Board.

Within thirty days, the district attorney filed a petition with the court for "Reconsideration of Sentence"*fn1 averring that placing Wrona on probation amounted to a "release [which] gives rise to a sense of outrage for the extreme leniency shown defendant; and adds to the Community's problems concerning widespread illegal conduct of uncontrolled juveniles . . . ." A hearing was granted, after which the trial judge denied the petition on the merits, but expressed reservations as to whether or not it was constitutionally permissible to change the previous order of the court imposing probation, to a sentence of imprisonment as the district attorney requested. From the denial of the district attorney's petition, the Commonwealth filed an appeal. From the order of probation, Wrona filed an appeal. The appeals were consolidated for argument before this Court and will be disposed of in this one opinion.

Wrona Appeal [No. 339]

The killing involved occurred during a street fight between Wrona, who was then sixteen years of age, and

[ 442 Pa. Page 204]

Samuel Harper, eighteen years of age. Wrona twice plunged a penknife into Harper's body inflicting wounds which resulted in death about two and one-half hours later.

Wrona contends that the trial testimony proved that he acted in self-defense, and, therefore, his guilt of voluntary manslaughter was not ...


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