Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, March T., 1971, No. 2265, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Eugene and Walter Webb.
John R. Cook and John J. Dean, Assistant Public Defenders, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellants.
Carol Mary Los and Peter Foster, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.
Following a joint trial, the appellants, Eugene Webb and Walter Webb, were convicted by a jury in Allegheny County of murder in the second degree. These appeals from the judgments of sentence imposed in the trial court*fn1 primarily raise the question whether the trial evidence was sufficient, as a matter of law, to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that an assault committed by the appellants on the victim was the cause of the latter's death. The circumstances presented are rather bizarre; nonetheless, after a careful review of the record, we are satisfied the evidence was sufficient to render the issue of causal connection a jury question.
Read in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the record discloses the following:
About 2:45 a.m., on February 6, 1971, the victim, Willie McCall, became involved in a verbal argument with one of the appellants, Eugene Webb, in the National
Alliance Postal Federal Employees' Club in Pittsburgh. Words led to a physical altercation and Walter Webb, the other appellant and a brother of Eugene, plus a third unidentified male joined Eugene in assaulting McCall. One witness described it as "a one-way fight".
The Webbs punched McCall repeatedly in the head with their fists. Walter also hit him in the face with an orange juice bottle while Eugene hit him with a piece of metal rail which he wrenched from the bar. McCall was knocked to the floor and as he lay helpless thereon face down, the Webbs continued to punch and kick him. Finally, one of the brothers kicked McCall over on his back and as he lay motionless in this position hit him in the face with a bar stool. The other brother concluded the attack by hitting McCall in the face with a water pitcher. A club attendant who attempted to stop the fight was also punched and beaten by the Webbs.*fn2
McCall eventually rose to his feet on his own power and staggered to the outside. He was bleeding profusely from the head and face. One witness said the blood "ran like water" and another stated McCall looked similar to a pig that had been "butchered". After reaching the outside, McCall asked a Mason Stubbs "to please take him to a hospital". Stubbs enlisted the aid of a George Toliver whose automobile was parked nearby and McCall entered this vehicle and sat silently slumped down in the front passenger's seat. Enroute to the hospital, the ...