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COMMONWEALTH v. BRUECKNER (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BRUECKNER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Feb. T., 1971, No. 60, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gerald Brueckner.

COUNSEL

William N. Sterling, with him John J. Duffy, 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.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Eagen

[ 458 Pa. Page 41]

The appellant, Gerald Brueckner, was convicted by a jury of murder in the second degree, aggravated assault and battery and violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. Post trial motions were denied and separate prison sentences were imposed on each conviction. This one appeal was filed.*fn1

From the trial evidence, the jury was warranted in finding the following facts:

The appellant Brueckner and one Roger Reitelbach were members of a motorcycle club known as the "Mongrols" which was feuding with a rival motorcycle club known as the "Warlocks." John Kline was a member of the "Warlocks."

About 11:45 p.m. on December 20, 1970, Kline responded to a knock on the door of his apartment in Ardmore, Montgomery County, and was confronted by Brueckner and Reitelbach with guns drawn. The two men made a forced entry into the apartment and forced Kline, Paul Kocher, and one Julie D'Anjolell, who were in the apartment, into the bedroom and held them at gun point. Kline and D'Anjolell were told to dress and prepare to leave the apartment. Kline began getting dressed, but then engaged Brueckner in a struggle. Brueckner subdued Kline, and again told him to get dressed. At this moment, there was another knock on the apartment door which Reitelbach answered and he immediately engaged in gunfight in the hallway with another member of the "Warlocks," Michael Rhoads.

At the time of the gunfight in the hall, Kline pushed D'Anjolell into the bathroom and turned to confront

[ 458 Pa. Page 42]

Brueckner. Brueckner then shot Kline in the chest causing his death within a few minutes. Brueckner then fled the bedroom and shot Kocher,*fn2 who was unarmed, and in the living room. Reitelbach was apprehended shortly after the occurrence and Brueckner was taken into custody a few days later.

Brueckner initially asserts the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence and argues the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to establish malice. We disagree, and hold the jury had ...


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