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COMMONWEALTH v. DE ROHN (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DE ROHN, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Feb. T., 1969, No. 189, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William De Rohn.

COUNSEL

Elwood M. Malos, with him Robertson B. Taylor, for appellant.

Charles H. Spaziani, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the decision of this case.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 444 Pa. Page 335]

On September 18, 1969, following a trial by jury, appellant was found guilty of first degree murder of one Grant White and sentenced to life imprisonment. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were denied and this appeal followed.

The sole issue before us on this appeal is whether the trial court committed error by admitting into evidence the testimony of a Commonwealth witness, Mrs. Grace Raub, mother of the deceased victim, concerning a telephone conversation she claimed to have had with the appellant on November 21, 1968.*fn1 Appellant alleges

[ 444 Pa. Page 336]

    that the testimony was prejudicial to his case and its erroneous admission dictates that he be granted a new trial.

Mrs. Raub testified that on November 21, 1968, at about 11:00 A.M., she answered a telephone call from a man who identified himself as William De Rohn, the appellant, and that he told her that he and her son Grant were to go together to the Lehigh Foundry and that Grant should meet him at "the trestle."*fn2 She further testified that her son then took the telephone and stated, "I'll meet you in a half hour or an hour at the trestle." Mrs. Raub stated that this morning was the last time she saw her son alive.

Cross-examination developed that Mrs. Raub had never before spoken with the appellant and, consequently, was unable to identify the voice on the telephone as his. A defense motion to strike the witness' testimony as incompetent was not immediately ruled upon pending receipt of corroborating circumstantial evidence by the Commonwealth to show appellant had made the telephone call in question.

The corroborating testimony was that of one Madeline Abel, who explained that she kept company with both the deceased and the appellant and that they sometimes appeared simultaneously in her home. She testified that on the evening of November 20, 1968 the appellant and the deceased were together in her home and that they made plans to go to the Lehigh Foundry looking for work; that on the next day, November 21, at about 1:30 P.M. the deceased appeared in ...


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