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decided: May 4, 1973.


Appeals from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Oct. T., 1970, No. 332, and Nov. T., 1970, No. 1826, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Carl Joseph, a/k/a Ronald Josephs.


Samuel Dashiell, with him Ronald J. Brockington, for appellant.

Linda Conley, Assistant District Attorney, with her Milton M. Stein, Assistant 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 O'Brien. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.

Author: O'brien

[ 451 Pa. Page 441]

On May 23, 1970, at about 1:30 p.m., eighty-four-year-old Edith Seal was knocked down and robbed of her pocketbook, while walking along the 2700 block of North Park Avenue in Philadelphia. As a result of being knocked down, Miss Seal sustained a fractured hip and complications developed which, according to

[ 451 Pa. Page 442]

    the Commonwealth's expert testimony, ultimately led to her death on July 25, 1970.

Mrs. Rosa Wilson and her husband, who live at 2727 North Park Avenue, witnessed the crime. According to Mrs. Wilson, Miss Seal was knocked down by a single black male, who then took her pocketbook. After the purse was taken and Miss Seal was pushed to the ground, Mrs. Wilson saw a single male run through an alley which runs from Park Avenue to Thirteenth Street. Mrs. Wilson went to help the victim and asked Miss Seal whether she had her keys with her and, according to Mrs. Wilson, Miss Seal replied "that he took her pocketbook". According to Mrs. Wilson's testimony, neither she nor Miss Seal had seen more than the single assailant involved in the attack.

However, one Ulysses Osborne, who lived at 1221 West Silver Street, in the same neighborhood as the 2700 block of North Park Avenue, testified that he saw four boys leave the house at 1225 West Silver Street shortly before the purse snatching occurred, and he further testified that, shortly after the crime, he heard someone shouting and saw the same four boys running back into the house. According to Mr. Osborne, one of the four boys was carrying a brown bag with what appeared to be a pocketbook sticking out of it when he went running back to the house. Soon afterward, Mr. Osborne saw one of the boys leave the house with the brown bag in his hand, go up toward Twelfth Street, turn in behind a church and garage there and then return empty-handed.

As a result of Mr. Osborne's tip, the police soon arrived at 1225 West Silver Street. Upon entering the building, they encountered appellant, eighteen-year-old Carl Joseph, who was wearing no shirt, was sweating profusely, and appeared to be breathing heavily. The police then arrested appellant and three other boys who were in the house. One of the police officers later

[ 451 Pa. Page 443]

    recovered Miss Seal's pocketbook, which he found in the bushes behind a garage located in the alley directly opposite 1225 West Silver Street.

Later appellant gave the following statement to the police:*fn1 "Q. Carl will you go on in your own works and tell us what you know concerning this incident? A. On Saturday 5-23-70 I went over to Norman Washington's house on Colorado St. it was about 7:30 am we went out to see what we could find to make some big money. We walked around and then we went to my Grandfathers job at Marshal and Diamond St. I picked up a bag of Clothes from my Grandfather then we walked back to Germantown Av. then we went back to my crib on Silver St. and laid around for awhile. Then we went back out I left the clothes at the crib but took the bag with me. We went back up the Av. this was about 12:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. we met Steve Williams coming off Germantown Av. we met hi near Germantown and Lehigh Av. We all me, Norman and Steve were walking up Lehigh Av. when we met Bub this was around 11th and Lehigh Av. we stood and talked a couple minutes. This is when the old lady past us Bubles said he was going to snatch her pocket book. Me and Norman said she did not have any money and Bub said I hit her before and got some money. We continued walking up Lehigh Av. and I cut off at 12th St. Bubles walked ahead of us following the old lady. Norman and Steve followed a little ...

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