Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Sept. T., 1969, No. 1534, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John Frederick Nole.
Reuben Singer, with him William J. Campbell, for appellant.
Benjamin H. Levintow, Assistant District Attorney, with him Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. The former Mr. Chief Justice Bell and the former Mr. Justice Barbieri took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
On May 21, 1970, the appellant, John Frederick Nole, was convicted by a jury of first degree murder. Subsequently he received a sentence of life imprisonment. Post-trial motions were denied and this appeal followed. We affirm.
The charges against appellant arose out of the death in Philadelphia on February 22, 1969 of Joseph Shayka, an 81-year-old storekeeper. Shortly after his apprehension on September 2, 1969, appellant gave homicide detectives a complete, signed confession, detailing his participation in the events leading up to Shayka's death. A pretrial motion to suppress this confession was denied, and that ruling is not now challenged. By his own admission, corroborated by the victim's widow, who was an eyewitness to the happenings, the following transpired. At approximately 5:00 P.M. of the day Shayka died, appellant, then aged 17, and two other
juveniles entered the deceased's grocery and candy store. Appellant carried a loaded revolver and one of his companions was armed with a knife. When his demands for cash were met with hesitation, appellant jabbed the old storekeeper four times in the stomach, twice with his hands and a like number with the revolver barrel. The three youths then seized some loose change and cigarettes and fled as Shayka slumped to the floor. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital at 5:25 P.M.
It is well established that in a homicide case the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) a death has occurred; (2) the death resulted from a criminal agency; and (3) the defendant is legally responsible for the death. Commonwealth v. Thomas, 429 Pa. 227, 232, 239 A.2d 354 (1968); Commonwealth v. Chester, 410 Pa. 45, 50, 188 A.2d 323 (1963); Commonwealth v. Gardner, 282 Pa. 458, 462-3, 128 Atl. 87 (1925). Appellant contends that the Commonwealth failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt that his criminal act of striking the deceased in the stomach, either with his hands or with the gun barrel, was the cause of death.
The Commonwealth called Dr. Marvin Aronson, Assistant Medical Examiner (now Medical Examiner) for the City of Philadelphia.*fn1 He testified that Joseph Shayka ...