Harry J. Greenstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Milton M. Stein, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., James Garrett, Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
The appellant, Charles Vaughn, Jr., pleaded guilty to murder subsequent to a plea bargain in which it was agreed that the crime would rise no higher than murder of the second degree and that the prosecution would recommend a maximum sentence, for whatever verdict, of not less than four nor more than twelve years imprisonment. Following a degree of guilt hearing, the trial court found the appellant guilty of murder in the second degree and imposed the recommended sentence. This appeal followed in which the only issue raised is whether the trial court erred in accepting appellant's guilty plea.
The appellant concedes that the trial court "engaged in an extensive formal colloquy with the [appellant] as to his understanding of his plea of guilty and as to whether it was being made voluntarily and intelligently." That colloquy is a matter of record. Three questions, however, are raised about the acceptance of the guilty plea.
Appellant first argues that his guilty plea to murder was inconsistent with the established facts. It is true that a guilty plea should not be accepted if the facts do not support the plea.
"We think it is logical and correct that if a defendant pleads guilty to a criminal charge, and in the next breath contravenes the plea by asserting facts which, if true, would establish that he is not guilty, then his guilty plea is of no effect and should be rejected. For on its face, such a situation would show that the plea was not entered with a complete comprehension of its impact."
Commonwealth v. Roundtree, 440 Pa. 199, 202, 269 A.2d 709, 711 (1970).
In this case, the appellant argues that his plea was inconsistent with the fact that he did not inflict the fatal stab wound. One need not, however, inflict the fatal blow, to be guilty of murder. See Commonwealth v. Rife, 454 Pa. 506, 312 A.2d 406 (1973); Commonwealth v. Wilson, 449 Pa. 235, 296 A.2d 719 (1972); Commonwealth v. Lowry, 374 Pa. 594, 98 A.2d 733 (1953). Appellant's participation in the events immediately preceding the stabbing was sufficient to establish his guilt even if he did not inflict the fatal blow. The testimony at the trial, as summarized by the appellant, is as follows:
"About 10:00 P.M., on February 23, 1972 the defendant was walking on 17th Street in the City of Philadelphia when he was attacked by a group of boys who identified themselves as the GTO gang. After being questioned as to his gang affiliation, and denying any, defendant was inflicted with a small stab wound of his side. He proceeded to the home of a friend, Freddy Bright, 28 years of age, at 1719 W. Berks Street. There he informed Freddy and the other occupants, Robert Hendricks, 14 years of age, Samuel Bullock, cousin of Hendricks, 16 years old, Shirley Bullock, 14, and Leatrice Moore, 18, what had happened to him. Some 20 minutes later, at Hendricks' suggestion that they go out and try to find the four 'dudes' who had stabbed the defendant, Robert Hendricks and Samuel Bullock armed themselves with
butcher knives taken from the kitchen of the apartment. Defendant fearing to go outside alone followed the two out. He had a small paring knife in his possession. They proceeded to 17th and Monument Streets where they encountered an unidentified negro male. Hendricks asked the boy if he belonged to the GTO gang. The defendant stated that he told Hendricks to 'Leave the boy alone,' which they did. According to the defendant, a few seconds later Hendricks stopped another boy, the victim in this case subsequently identified as Thomas C. McAllister, 15, a complete stranger to the parties involved, and asked him what gang he belonged to. At this point Samuel Bullock is stated to have abandoned his participation in the project, started back to the apartment on Berks Street and, when about one-half block away, saw both Hendricks and the defendant swing at the deceased. A short while after Bullock returned to the apartment, Hendricks and the defendant came in. The detective testified that the defendant told him that he had not stabbed the boy, but that Hendricks had stabbed him and was bragging that he had 'got a homicide.' Both girls are said to have stated that both Hendricks and the defendant had knives. Shirley Bullock ...