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COMMONWEALTH v. WONGUS (06/22/71)

decided: June 22, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
WONGUS



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1970, No. 1198, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Ronald Wongus.

COUNSEL

Michael L. Levy and John W. Packel, Assistant Defenders, and Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Cercone

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 150]

Ronald Wongus was charged with burglary, larceny and receiving stolen goods. These charges arose out of an incident which took place in Philadelphia in March, 1971, when a man went into a ladies' dress store, grabbed an armful of ladies' housecoats and ran off. A police officer, who was having his meal in a nearby restaurant, heard of the robbery and immediately began efforts to find the thief. The officer returned to the store within five minutes with the defendant and a shopping bag full of housecoats, definitely identified as those stolen from the store.

At trial, the policeman related that he had gone in the direction in which he was told the thief had fled. A few blocks away, he saw Wongus stuffing the housecoats in question into a paper bag which the defendant had obtained in a nearby yard. The officer testified

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 151]

    further that he surprised the defendant just as Wongus was walking away down the block putting his own black jacket over the dresses in the bag. The only one who had witnessed the theft, a bookkeeper in the store, could only say that the thief wore a black jacket.

Wongus testified in his own defense at trial. He claimed that he had just walked out of his aunt's house on 1725 W. Oxford Street when the policeman jumped out of some hiding place, hit him a few times, and then drew a gun on him. Wongus said he then picked up the bag of dresses. The defense then sought to have the defendant's aunt testify that he had been at her home at the time the offense took place.

The assistant district attorney objected to the testimony of defendant's aunt, pointing out that this lady was to offer an alibi, and that no notice of alibi defense had been filed by plaintiff, as required by Rule 312, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The learned trial judge sustained this objection and the aunt was not allowed to testify.

The defendant was found guilty of only the third charge, receiving stolen goods, and was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison. Later, after post-trial motions, he was sentenced to six to twenty-three months. The instant appeal followed.

Ronald Wongus complains that the alibi testimony of his aunt should have been admitted at trial. He claims that his trial counsel was ineffective for not giving the proper notice of alibi defense, and that the judge abused his discretion since the ...


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