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COMMONWEALTH v. JONES (01/19/73)

decided: January 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JONES, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1967, Nos. 970 to 973, inclusive in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. George Washington Jones.

COUNSEL

Julian F. King, for appellant.

Maxine J. Stotland, Martin H. Belsky and Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorneys, 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 Eagen. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Roberts joins in this concurring opinion. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.

Author: Eagen

[ 450 Pa. Page 444]

The appellant, George Washington Jones, was indicted in separate bills for murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and arson. The charges grew out of a fire which took the life of a five-week-old infant, Sean McKinnon, and destroyed the interior of a dwelling house at 2010 Federal Street in Philadelphia.

When the issue was called for trial, Jones was first arraigned on the murder and arson indictments at the request of the district attorney and then at the direction of the court he was arraigned on the involuntary manslaughter indictment. Pleas of not guilty were entered to the three indictments. After trial the jury returned a verdict of guilty of arson and guilty of murder in the first degree. By direction of the court, Jones was found not guilty on the involuntary manslaughter

[ 450 Pa. Page 445]

    indictment. Post-trial motions were denied, and on the murder conviction Jones was sentenced to life imprisonment as the jury's verdict directed. Sentence was not imposed on the arson conviction. An appeal was filed in this Court from the judgment imposed on the murder conviction. An appeal from the arson conviction was filed in the Superior Court and subsequently certified here. Both appeals were submitted to us on briefs and will be disposed of in this one opinion.

Since a final judgment was not entered on the arson conviction, the appeal in that case is premature and will be quashed. Cf. Commonwealth v. Pollick, 420 Pa. 61, 215 A.2d 904 (1966).

We initially note that while the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction of murder in the first degree is not challenged, nonetheless, we have reviewed the record and are completely satisfied the trial testimony amply supports this conviction. From the testimony the jury was warranted in finding that after threatening to "burn the place down", Jones deliberately spilled gasoline over the floor of the first floor rooms of the house involved from a five-gallon can and then ignited the gasoline with a lit match. The conflagration followed.

In challenging the validity of the murder conviction and sentence imposed thereon, Jones principally asserts he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial*fn1

[ 450 Pa. Page 446]

    because the trial did not commence until thirty-two ...


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