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COMMONWEALTH v. PAQUETTE (03/16/73)

decided: March 16, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
PAQUETTE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, No. 75 of 1970, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edmund Joseph Paquette.

COUNSEL

Edward C. Connolly, with him Connolly, McAndrews, Kihm & Stevens, for appellant.

John Woodcock, Jr., for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Nix

[ 451 Pa. Page 252]

When the appellant, Edmund Paquette brought his 6 1/2-month old daughter to the emergency room of the Mercy Hospital, on January 31, 1970, she was cyanotic, blue in color, and had no respiration or heartbeat. As the child's life functions returned, bruise marks on her forehead and chin became evident. She died four days later.

The appellant was charged with murder and was tried before a judge, sitting without a jury. He was found guilty of murder in the second degree and, after his post-trial motions were denied, he was sentenced to from five to ten years imprisonment. This direct appeal follows.

The appellant contends that the trial judge erred in denying his demurrer because the Commonwealth's

[ 451 Pa. Page 253]

    evidence was insufficient: (1) to show that the wounds he allegedly inflicted caused the baby's death; (2) to show that he was in any way responsible for those wounds; or (3) to establish malice. The appellant contends further that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. Finally, he contends that the judge who suppressed his extra-judicial statement and who later sat as the finder of fact at the trial erred in allowing the Commonwealth to elicit the contents of that statement at the Suppression Hearing. We find no merit in these contentions.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, the test for sufficiency of the evidence is: "whether, accepting as true all the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which if believed the jury could properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted." Commonwealth v. Oates, 448 Pa. 486, 489, 295 A.2d 337 (1972). See also, Commonwealth v. Agie, 449 Pa. 187, 296 A.2d 741 (1972); Commonwealth v. Palmer, 448 Pa. 282, 292 A.2d 921 (1972); Commonwealth v. Whitaker, 440 Pa. 143, 269 A.2d 886 (1970). We will proceed to examine the evidence of each of the elements challenged by the appellant.

The appellant first challenges the sufficiency of the evidence of the causal connection between his alleged conduct and the victim's death. The attending physician, Dr. Burket, testified that from his examination, the child exhibited traumatic hematomas on both sides of the face, the ears, the lower parts of the jaws and both eyes. She was critically ill, showing evidence of cerebral irritability and definite hindrance of respiratory and circulatory functions. Dr. Adams, a consulting neurosurgeon diagnosed the ...


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