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COMMONWEALTH v. LIGHT (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LIGHT, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, No. 757 of 1972, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. George Roy Light.

COUNSEL

Thomas A. Ehrgood, with him Ehrgood and Ehrgood, for appellant.

David J. Brightbill, Assistant District Attorney, with him George E. Christianson, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Eagen and Mr. Justice O'Brien concur in the result. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino. Mr. Justice Roberts and Mr. Justice Nix join in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 458 Pa. Page 330]

The appellant was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter and assault with intent to kill.*fn1 Following the denial of his motion for a new trial, he was sentenced on the manslaughter conviction to imprisonment for a term of two years to four years and eleven months, and on the assault conviction to imprisonment for a term of one and a half to three years, the sentences to run concurrently. He has now appealed those judgments to this Court.*fn2 We affirm.

The facts in this case are almost undisputed. The appellant lived on a farm in Annville, Lebanon County, with his brother, Ronald Light. On the night of October 2, 1972, at approximately nine o'clock, while the appellant was walking outside his home, a car drove up containing three persons, Rebecca Rudy, Dennis Morgan and Richard Garrison. Although he was not acquainted with the Rudy girl, Light knew both Morgan and Garrison. Garrison had gone to school with Light's brother and Morgan had worked with Light at

[ 458 Pa. Page 331]

    a shoe factory in Lebanon County. The three had been driving around town and drinking beer before they arrived at Light's place. They asked Light if his brother was home. Upon being told that he was not, they asked permission for the girl to use the bathroom inside. Light agreed.

Once inside, the group, including Light, sat around the kitchen drinking beer, while Morgan made five or six crank telephone calls. The Rudy girl and Garrison then went into the living room and the defendant left to get more beer, apparently at the request of Morgan. During Light's absence, Morgan went upstairs and several minutes later called Garrison to join him. While upstairs, according to Garrison, Morgan asked him "what kind of girl" Rebecca Rudy was.

Appellant testified that when he arrived back at his home with the beer, he noticed that there were lights on in an upstairs bedroom, where, according to him, there hadn't been any when he had left. He proceeded to take the gun which he kept on the floor of the car and went inside. He went through the kitchen and into the living room. At this same time, Morgan and Garrison were running down the stairs, with Garrison in the lead. When Garrison reached the landing at the foot of the stairs, Light pointed the gun at him and fired twice, wounding him in the chest. The defendant then fired seven shots at Morgan, killing him. Immediately afterwards, Light went into the kitchen, put down his gun, and with the aid of Miss Rudy, called the police. The Rudy girl, while present throughout, apparently was napping in the living room and did not awaken until she heard gunfire.

Appellant raises three grounds which he asserts require the granting of a new trial.

First, he maintains that the two verdicts were against the weight of the evidence. We find no merit in

[ 458 Pa. Page 332]

    this contention. There was ample evidence to support the verdicts, even from the ...


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