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COMMONWEALTH v. LEE (01/19/73)

decided: January 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LEE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County, Oct. T., 1970, No. 26, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Goldie Lee, Jr.

COUNSEL

James A. Pruyne, W. Marshall Dawsey, and Duvall & Dawsey, for appellant.

C. Wayne Smyth, Assistant District Attorney, and Maurice L. Epstein, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 450 Pa. Page 153]

Appellant, Goldie Lee, Jr., was arrested on November 1, 1970, and charged with the murder of Hazel Guisewhite. At arraignment, on December 28, 1970, appellant entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. Thereafter, appellant filed pretrial motions challenging the petit jury array and requesting a change of venue.

[ 450 Pa. Page 154]

Both motions were denied on January 12, 1971; on that same date, appellant withdrew his plea of not guilty, and entered a plea of guilty, which was accepted by the court.*fn1

On January 13, 1971, after an evidentiary hearing conducted pursuant to Rule 319A of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court ruled that the defendant's guilt could rise no higher than murder in the second degree. Upon further hearing, the court found appellant guilty of second degree murder. Post-trial motions were denied.

This direct appeal followed. Appellant at all times has been represented by counsel.

Appellant raises two issues: (1) that the trial court's finding of murder in the second degree was not supported by the evidence and, (2) that the trial court abused its discretion by sentencing the defendant to eight and one half to twenty years on the charge of murder in the second degree. We decide both issues adversely to the defendant.

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, we must carefully scrutinize the entire record, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Young, 446 Pa. 122, 123, 285 A.2d 499, 500 (1971); Johnson Appeal, 445 Pa. 270, 273, 284 A.2d 780, 781 (1971). The crucial inquiry is to determine whether, on the whole record, a finder of fact could reasonably have found all elements of second degree murder.

The Commonwealth's evidence was as follows: On October 31, 1970, at approximately 7:00 P.M., appellant arrived at the Eastside Tavern in Bradford County. Upon entering, ...


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