Joseph Michael Smith, Philadelphia, for appellant.
James J. Wilson, Asst. Dist. Atty., Mark Sendrow, Asst. Dist. Atty., Asst. Chief, Appeals Div., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
Robert Lowe, the appellant, was convicted in a non-jury trial of voluntary manslaughter. Post trial motions were denied and Lowe was sentenced to ten years probation. This appeal followed.
Lowe initially contends the evidence was insufficient to support the finding of voluntary manslaughter, but, on the contrary, established the killing was committed in self-defense.
On appeal from a criminal conviction, the test for evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence is whether, viewing the entire record in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, a finder of fact could reasonably have found that all elements of the crime charged had been
proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Lee, 450 Pa. 152, 299 A.2d 640 (1973). Read in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the instant record discloses the following pertinent facts:
On May 20, 1972, Lowe shot and killed Bernard Walker in a dispute between neighbors. At the time, Walker lived at 3231 Monument Street, Philadelphia. He had three stepsons: Kenny Jackson (aged 19); Larry Jackson (aged 17); and, Joseph Jackson (Jo-Jo, aged 15). Lowe lived two doors away at 3227 Monument Street with his wife and children. He had moved into the neighborhood eight months previously. The family of Sam DeShields occupied the house between the Lowes and the Walkers at 3229 Monument Street.
A few days prior to the fatal evening, Lowe had complained to the police that Neil Williams of 3222 Monument Street had raped his daughter Margaret. Neil was fifteen and Margaret fourteen. The police had taken Neil Williams into custody on May 15, 1972, for questioning regarding this alleged incident, but he was released when the girl admitted that the relations were consensual. Neil Williams was accompanied to the police station by his mother and brother, Robert Williams.
On the afternoon of May 20, 1972, Lowe came out on his porch and observed Robert Williams standing with Larry Jackson and Sam DeShields on the DeShields' porch next door. Lowe challenged Williams to a fight for comments Williams had made at the police station. Disparaging remarks were exchanged between the group of boys and Lowe. Kenny Jackson, overhearing the exchange from inside, emerged to accept Lowe's challenge. Before any blows were struck the fight was broken up by DeShields. As Kenny Jackson returned to his house, Lowe ran toward his own residence shouting that he was going to ...