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COMMONWEALTH v. HOLLENBAUGH (10/04/72)

decided: October 4, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HOLLENBAUGH, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Perry County, Feb. T., 1968, Nos. 2 and 3, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles E. Hollenbaugh.

COUNSEL

N. A. Patterson, with him Keith B. Qugley, for appellant.

Clyde R. Bomgardner, District Attorney, with him Gerald K. Morrison, Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Nix joins in this opinion.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 449 Pa. Page 7]

On December 27, 1968, the appellant, Charles E. Hollenbaugh, pleaded guilty to two separate indictments for murder, one pertaining to the killing of Richard Larry Bitting, the other to the killing of Linda Fisher. A panel of three judges subsequently determined that both crimes were murder in the first degree, and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment in each case, the sentences to run concurrently. This appeal comes to us under the Appellate Court Jurisdiction

[ 449 Pa. Page 8]

Act of 1970, July 31, 1970, P. L. 673, art. II, § 202(1), 17 P.S. § 211.202(1).*fn1 We affirm.

In the early morning hours of March 23, 1968, appellant walked into the State Police Substation at Duncannon, Pennsylvania and announced to the officer on desk duty, "I give myself up. I just killed two people." That assertion was soon verified by the discovery of the bodies of Linda Fisher and Richard Bitting in a station wagon parked behind a nearby lounge. During the course of the morning at the police station, appellant was warned of his constitutional rights on several occasions, twice in writing; he nevertheless gave a written statement of the events surrounding the crimes. He further informed police that the murder weapon was an 8mm. rifle lying on the back seat of his car, then parked outside the station. Accompanied by appellant's father and brother, a police officer retrieved the weapon and unexploded ammunition.

Appellant's statement and the evidence introduced at the degree-of-guilt hearing disclosed the following:

On the evening of Friday, the 22nd of March, 1968, Charles Hollenbaugh and his then girl friend, Linda Motter, were making the rounds of several night spots in the Borough of Duncannon. At Barney's Cafe, Hollenbaugh encountered Linda Fisher in the company of Richard Bitting, a man the appellant had a short time previously threatened with death should he persist in his attentions toward Linda Fisher. It appears that

[ 449 Pa. Page 9]

    the appellant Hollenbaugh was at that precise moment midway between girl friends: he had been carrying on an illicit relationship with Linda Fisher and had heard through rumor that she was with child, and he had only recently entered into a similar relationship with Linda Motter, his companion of the evening. After Barney's Cafe closed for the evening, Hollenbaugh and Linda Motter drove to her parents' home and there passed the hours before daylight in his parked car. After taking leave of Miss Motter, appellant drove back to ...


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