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COMMONWEALTH v. HALL (03/25/74)

decided: March 25, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HALL, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1971, No. 1436, affirming judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Sept. T., 1969, No. 559, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Ronald E. Hall.

COUNSEL

Charles J. King, Jr., with him Richard W. Rogers, and Rogers & Smith, for appellant.

Stewart J. Greenleaf, Assistant District Attorney, with him J. David Bean, Assistant District Attorney, William T. Nicholas, First Assistant District Attorney, and Milton O. Moss, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino. Mr. Chief Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Eagen concur in the result.

Author: Manderino

[ 456 Pa. Page 245]

The appellant, Ronald E. Hall, was found guilty by a jury of assault and battery with intent to ravish, and burglary. Post-trial motions were denied, and concurrent sentences of one to three years imprisonment were imposed for each offense. The Superior Court affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Hall, 221 Pa. Superior Ct. 776, 291 A.2d 897 (1972). We granted appellant's petition for allowance of an appeal.

The appellant raises three issues in this appeal: (1) whether the out-of-court identification testimony should have been suppressed; (2) whether the trial court's conduct during the pretrial suppression hearing violated due process of law; and (3) whether the trial court erred in refusing to charge the jury as requested by the appellant in his points for charge on the "pitfalls of identification testitmony." We find no merit on the assignments of error and, therefore, affirm the judgment of sentence.

From the testimony at the suppression hearing, the following facts can be reasonably inferred. Shortly after noon, on July 8, 1969, Bernadette Hathaway, victim of the charged offenses, was alone in her home. She had just returned from a visit to her doctor, who had told her to remain in bed during her pregnancy or she might lose her baby. Her three-year-old daughter had taken their small puppy outside. She was folding clothes on her kitchen table when a man appeared at the door. He was cleanly dressed and did not frighten her until he entered and began advancing toward her. He told her she would not get hurt if she did not say anything. The man asked her if she had a bathroom. She began moving as she pointed to the bathroom. He grabbed her and pinned her arms to her side and began making sexual advances. She pleaded with the man to let her alone since she was carrying a child and

[ 456 Pa. Page 246]

    was sick. She told him she would lose her baby if she got upset.

The man ignored her pleas. He forced her from the the kitchen into the dining room and onto a couch. He got on top of her, began kissing her and moving his body against hers as he unbuttoned her blouse. At this point the victim and her attacker heard the victim's daughter making a racket at the back door. The daughter was hollering at her puppy who would not come into the house. The attacker became frightened and left the dining room. The victim fled and ran into a neighbor's yard. The police were called, but when they arrived the man could not be found.

The victim who had observed her attacker for "no less than ten minutes" gave the following description to the police: "A colored male, 19 to 23 years of age. Young and good-looking. Six feet one to six feet three. Thin built. Kinky hair, Afro style, high. Smooth skin. Clean shaven. Dark brown complexion. Oval face. Clean clothes. Green trousers, green pants. Black shoes. Either red shirt short sleeves, or red and blue plaid."

The victim called her husband at work and he returned home. She described the man to her husband. They discussed the incident on various ...


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