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COMMONWEALTH v. BRUSKY (06/22/71)

decided: June 22, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BRUSKY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Sept. T., 1968, No. 317A, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Linda Brusky.

COUNSEL

John R. Merrick, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Thomas G. Ashton, Assistant District Attorney, with him M. Joseph Melody, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. (Hoffman, J., absent). Opinion by Watkins, J.

Author: Watkins

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 55]

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County by the defendant-appellant, Linda Brusky; and from the denial of a new trial by the court below.

The defendant was charged with the larceny of wallets containing an undetermined amount of money from the house trailer of the alleged victim, Clyde Nichols. She was also charged with burglary. A demurrer was sustained on this charge and she was convicted by the jury of larceny. She was sentenced to a probationary term of four (4) years on November 20, 1970.

The record discloses a very unusual set of circumstances involving the alleged victim, a very confused man of 74 who was not sure whether he lost, mislaid or had stolen wallets containing a large sum of money; the amount of which he was not able to remember. The defendant, Linda Brusky, who was 18 at the time of the trial, was just as confused as Nichols.

Nichols operated a trailer park occupied by fourteen trailers, five of them owned by him. He was hopelessly confused as to the amount of money missing. At the time he discovered the loss, he even advertised the loss in the newspapers. The defendant lived in a house trailer in this camp. She went to the police station

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 56]

    and gave a full and complete confession of the theft. She repudiated her confession at the trial saying it was given for the purpose of getting into prison so she could receive medical attention as she was pregnant and so she could get even with a girlfriend who she implicated in the confession and who, as a result was arrested but discharged.

The only other evidence besides the evidence of the victim concerning the loss or theft was purchases made at local stores and that she was in the possession of a substantial sum of money. The evidence was introduced without proof of her prior pecuniary condition. The principal contention of the appellant is that the Commonwealth failed to establish the corpus delicti; and that if there was circumstantial evidence to establish a prima facie case, the court erred in failing to caution and charge the jury that the corpus delicti must be established to their satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt before they could consider the confession in arriving at her guilt.

Corpus delicti means the body of the crime or the fact that a crime has been committed. "Corpus delicti, like any other factual matter, may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Com. v. Smith, 111 Pa. Superior Ct. 363, 170 A. 331 (1934); Com. v. Saurbaugh, 194 Pa. Superior Ct. 346, 168 A.2d 638 (1961). It is sufficient if the circumstances are consistent with the crime even though they are also consistent with innocence. Com. ...


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