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COMMONWEALTH v. HENDERSON (05/04/73)

decided: May 4, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HENDERSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1971, Nos. 447 and 448, affirming judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Aug. T., 1970, Nos. 2360 and 2361, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Michael Henderson.

COUNSEL

John W. Packel, Assistant Defender, with him Jonathan Miller, Assistant Defender, and Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

Louis A. Perez, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, with him 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 Manderino. Mr. Justice Eagen, Mr. Justice O'Brien and Mr. Justice Pomeroy concur in the result. Mr. Chief Justice Jones dissents.

Author: Manderino

[ 451 Pa. Page 453]

The appellant, Michael Henderson, who was convicted in a non-jury trial of receiving stolen goods, contends that his demurrer to the prosecution's evidence should have been granted. We agree and reverse.

The prosecution's evidence established that sometime between July 7, 1970 and July 14, 1970, a 1963 Volkswagen was stolen in Philadelphia. On July 10, 1970, a license plate belonging to a different automobile was also reported stolen. About 7:30 p.m., on July 31, 1970, two and one-half to three weeks after the thefts, appellant was arrested when observed driving the stolen car with the stolen license plate. The appellant pulled over at an officer's request and produced his driver's license. The appellant did not have the owner's card. This constituted all of the evidence presented by the prosecution.

At the conclusion of the prosecution's case, the appellant's demurrer to the evidence was overruled. Appellant then took the stand and testified that he had

[ 451 Pa. Page 454]

    borrowed the car from a man named Richard approximately a half-hour to forty-five minutes prior to his arrest. The appellant, along with Carole Laws (his fiancee) and Richard, spent the entire day helping one Gloria Bearing (Carole Law's cousin) move from one apartment to another apartment in the same building at 5008 McKean Avenue. Richard was a friend of Gloria Bearing and had been invited by Bearing to assist her in moving, just as were the appellant and his fiancee. The moving operation began about 8:30 a.m., and lasted all day. When the moving was over, late in the day, Richard mentioned that he was going downstairs to visit someone else who lived in the same apartment building. The appellant asked Richard if he could borrow Richard's car for a short while because appellant had only a half-hour to forty-five minutes to pick up an anniversary gift for his fiancee's parents. Richard gave appellant the key to Richard's car and appellant, along with his fiancee, proceeded to the Cheltenham Shopping Center where they picked up the anniversary gift at Gimbels. They were returning when they were stopped by the police. Appellant first met Richard when the moving began at 8:30 a.m. When arrested, the appellant told the police the circumstances concerning his possession of the car. The appellant did not contradict any of the facts presented by the prosecution and the prosecution did not contradict any of the facts presented by the appellant.

The standard to be applied in ruling upon a demurrer is whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant the jury in finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Collins, 436 Pa. 114, 259 A.2d 160 (1969). The application of the standard requires a consideration of the reasonable inferences which the jury may make from the prosecution's evidence. These inferences must establish all elements of the crime charged.

[ 451 Pa. Page 455]

The crime of receiving stolen goods requires proof that the appellant knew that the property possessed was stolen. Such knowledge on the part of the appellant is an essential element of the crime, in addition to the elements of appellant's possession of the ...


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