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COMMONWEALTH v. WILLIAMS (06/01/71)

decided: June 1, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Nov. T., 1967, No. 249, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. James Williams.

COUNSEL

John Mattioni, for appellant.

Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, with him Steven H. Goldblatt, 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 Eagen. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the decision of his case. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Eagen

[ 443 Pa. Page 87]

This appeal is from the judgment of sentence imposed on the appellant, James Williams, following his conviction by a jury of murder in the second degree.

The prosecution resulted from the fatal stabbing of Robert Whitaker. Williams contends the trial evidence was insufficient to connect him with the crime. We disagree.

As we have said many times, the test to be applied in determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether accepting as true all of the evidence, be it direct or circumstantial or both, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, upon which, if believed, the jury could properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of which he has been convicted. Commonwealth v. Rankin, 441 Pa. 401, 272 A.2d 886 (1971).

Considered in this light, the evidence in the instant case was ample to warrant the jury in finding the following facts.

That Whitaker was set upon and assaulted on a public street in Philadelphia by members of a juvenile

[ 443 Pa. Page 88]

    gang, known as the "Alkie Bets," with the intent to rob him; that in the course of the assault one or more of the felons stabbed Whitaker seven times with a knife; that one such blow pierced Whitaker's body and cut a lung which resulted in blood flowing into the chest cavity causing death; and, that the appellant, Williams, was one of the group who participated in this assault.

Assuming that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Williams did the actual stabbing or personally stole anything from Whitaker, this, in itself, would not relieve him of guilt. If the killing were committed by one who at the time was acting in concert with Williams in effectuating a robbery, both are guilty of murder. Commonwealth v. Batley, 436 Pa. 377, 260 A.2d 793 (1970). In other words, if one or more persons engage in the commission of, or in an attempt to commit, a robbery, and during the perpetration thereof the victim is killed by one of the felons, all are guilty of murder. Commonwealth v. ...


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