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COMMONWEALTH v. HILL (05/22/74)

decided: May 22, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HILL, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Sept. T., 1942, No. 82, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John Henry Hill.

COUNSEL

John H. Corbett, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, with him John J. Dean, Assistant Public Defender, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellant.

Richard Douglas Carleton, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 457 Pa. Page 2]

In 1942, John Henry Hill pleaded guilty to murder generally, was convicted of murder in the first degree, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1973, following two post-conviction proceedings and an evidentiary hearing, the trial court dismissed appellant's post-trial motions allowed as if timely filed. On this

[ 457 Pa. Page 3]

    direct appeal,*fn1 Hill contends that the absence of the transcript of his 1942 degree of guilt hearing prevents him from effectively challenging the sufficiency of the evidence raising his degree of guilt to murder in the first degree. More precisely, the issue presented is the adequacy of the available record to establish felony murder.

Our review of the existing record satisfies us that there presently is an equivalent picture of appellant's 1942 degree of guilt hearing. Commonwealth v. Anderson, 441 Pa. 483, 493, 272 A.2d 877, 882 (1971); see Draper v. Washington, 372 U.S. 487, 495, 83 S. Ct. 774, 779 (1963). The available record contains evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the charge of murder to which appellant pleaded guilty was established to be murder in the first degree. The judgment of sentence must be affirmed.

Appellant and two others were arrested for the robbery of Henry Vesely and for the robbery and murder of Joseph Ramoska. Both crimes were committed in close physical proximity early on the morning of May 14, 1942. While represented by privately-retained counsel,*fn2 Hill entered pleas of guilty to the Vesely robbery and the Ramoska murder. Following a hearing, the court found the murder of Ramoska to

[ 457 Pa. Page 4]

    be murder in the first degree and on October 13, 1942, sentenced appellant to life imprisonment.*fn3 No direct appeal was then taken.

In 1961, Hill's minimum sentence on the murder conviction was commuted, and he was released on parole. However, in 1965, he shot his girlfriend and threatened police officers with a revolver. As a consequence, Hill was indicted for assault and battery with intent to kill, assault and battery with intent to maim, pointing firearms, assault, violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, and resisting arrest. He entered counseled pleas of guilty to all these charges; his parole was revoked and on March 15, 1966 an additional concurrent sentence of one to two years imprisonment for assault with intent to kill ...


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