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COMMONWEALTH v. BELGRAVE ET AL. (12/20/71)

decided: December 20, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BELGRAVE ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeals from orders of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1969, Nos. 1288 to 1343, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Louis Belgrave; Washington Howard, Jr.; John H. Wilson, Jr.; Lemuel Belgrave; Allen Coades; Harry F. Seth; James Faust, Jr.; Ira Bentley; Leroy Barnes; David Poteat; William Oliver Green; Michael Bell; John O. Townsend; Charles Lavender; Richard Clark; Reginald Anderson.

COUNSEL

Garland D. Cherry, with him Carmen P. Belefonte, and Kassab, Cherry, Curran and Archbold, for appellants.

Bernard P. Carey, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, with him Ralph B. D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorney, and Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 445 Pa. Page 313]

On October 5, 1968, the Chester High-Sun Valley High football game was disrupted by unruly "sports fans": some spectators refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem; three spectators were assaulted by a fourth spectator at half-time; many spectators

[ 445 Pa. Page 314]

    became rowdy and boisterous during the second half; and a Chester High School bandman was viciously attacked by several persons after the game. Sixteen spectators (appellants herein) were arrested and indicted for riot, inciting to riot, public nuisance, common law nuisance, obstructing a public highway, conspiracy and miscellaneous charges. Five of these sixteen spectators were also indicted for the assault upon the band member and a sixth was indicted on several charges stemming from the attack on the three apparently innocent spectators.

Over the objection of all appellants, the court below consolidated all charges. Seeking a severance by indirection, several appellants requested a non-jury trial, which was refused by the court below -- "unless everyone is tried non-jury everyone will stand trial by jury." Initially, all sixteen defendants entered pleas of not guilty and the trial commenced on January 20, 1969. However, eight defendants offered guilty pleas during the trial which were subsequently accepted. The jury trial of the eight remaining defendants continued.

Owing to dissimilar allegations as well as procedural differences between the guilty pleaders and the jury-convicted appellants, we will separate our discussion along those same lines.

Nos. 269-276, January Term, 1971

Appellants, Louis Belgrave, Lemuel Belgrave, Bentley, Coades, Faust, Seth, Wilson and Howard were found guilty by the jury of riot, inciting to riot and conspiracy. Appellant Howard was also found guilty of the assault-related charges involving the band member. Post-trial motions were filed on behalf of the appellants alleging it was error to consolidate appellants' cases and that ...


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