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COMMONWEALTH v. WRIGHT (11/17/72)

decided: November 17, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WRIGHT, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1970, No. 169, affirming judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Oct. T., 1968, No. 177, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Anthony Wright.

COUNSEL

John W. Packel, Assistant Defender, with him Francis S. Wright, Assistant Defender, and Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, with him Louis Perez, 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, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Nix.

Author: Nix

[ 449 Pa. Page 359]

In 1969, after waiving trial by jury, the appellant was convicted of assault and battery, aggravated assault and battery, assault and battery with the intent to murder, carrying firearms without a license and receiving stolen goods. On the count of the indictment charging receiving stolen goods, the appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than five years. Sentence was suspended on all other charges. The receiving stolen goods conviction was appealed to the Superior Court and was affirmed per curiam, without opinion. Judge Hoffman filed a dissenting opinion in which Judges Montgomery and Spaulding joined. On January 28, 1972, we allowed an appeal to this Court.

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether there was sufficient evidence to support a verdict of guilty to the charge of receiving stolen goods. We think not.

In determining the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict, we accept as true all testimony and the reasonable inferences therefrom which the jury

[ 449 Pa. Page 360]

    could have reasonably believed to reach its determination. In this instance, we must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the verdict winner, and accept every reasonable inference arising from that evidence in support of their position. Commonwealth v. Bailey, 448 Pa. 224, 292 A.2d 345 (1972); Commonwealth v. Neal, 447 Pa. 452, 290 A.2d 922 (1972); Commonwealth v. Wrona, 442 Pa. 201, 275 A.2d 78 (1971); Commonwealth v. Frye, 433 Pa. 473, 252 A.2d 580 (1969); Commonwealth v. Frazier, 411 Pa. 195, 191 A.2d 369 (1963). After reviewing the record, it is clear the Commonwealth has failed to establish that the "goods" were stolen, a crucial element of the charge of receiving stolen goods. 1939, June 24, P. L. 872, § 817; 1943, May 21, P. L. 306, § 1; 18 P.S. 4817. Commonwealth v. Davis, 444 Pa. 11, 280 A.2d 119 (1971).

At 11:30 P.M. on August 12, 1968, Officer Kelly, a member of the Philadelphia Police Department, and his partner, received a radio call directing them to 32nd and Turner Streets, the scene of the reported shooting. While enroute, they received "flash information" concerning a 1961 Chevrolet believed to be brown and white containing several males. Officer Kelly observed a vehicle meeting this description containing the appellant and his cousin and two ladies. The officer could not recall at trial the appellant's position in the vehicle when it was stopped and the occupants taken into custody. The color of the automobile that had been stopped by the officers was described as being a "goldish brown", and was left at the scene of the arrest when the occupants were removed. Later, that vehicle was taken first to Northwest Detective Division and then to North Central Detective Division.

The Commonwealth also offered the testimony of a Mr. Joseph Lafazio that on ...


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