Alexander Hemphill, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
The appellant, Garnie Segers, was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree and, after denial of post-trial motions, was sentenced to life imprisonment. This direct appeal followed.
The evidence introduced by the Commonwealth at trial was virtually uncontradicted. It established that on the night of December 19, 1971, the appellant shot and killed one Leonard Wilcox as Wilcox was riding as a guest passenger in an automobile driven by one Robert Fuller on Lancaster Avenue in the City of Philadelphia. Also in the car was Segers' common-law wife, Margaret Lane. Miss Lane and Fuller both testified that immediately prior to the shooting they had observed Segers following them in his own car as they drove through Philadelphia. Segers eventually pulled alongside the Fuller car, yelled "You all can't come back to Jersey no more," aimed a shotgun out of the window of his car, and fired. Wilcox was fatally wounded, and Margaret Lane slightly so. Both automobiles stopped after the shooting. Segers alighted from his car and exclaimed, "I told you I was going to get you." The shooting apparently was the result of Segers' belief that his common-law wife and Wilcox were lovers. Some three weeks previously Miss Lane had left Segers following an argument.
After the shooting appellant fled, first to his father's home in Vineland, New Jersey, then to Georgia, where he was ultimately arrested on July 4, 1972. Segers waived
extradition and was returned to Philadelphia. During subsequent interrogation by the police he gave a statement, which was introduced into evidence, in which he admitted shooting Wilcox, but claimed that the shooting was an accident and that he had not intended to kill him.
Appellant asserts six assignments of error, each of which was considered and rejected by the trial court on post-trial motions. We affirm.
(1) The first contention is that bail was fixed at an unreasonably high figure ($45,000), thus causing Segers to remain incarcerated and severely hampering him in the preparation of his defense. Principal reliance is placed upon our decision in Commonwealth v. Truesdale, 449 Pa. 325, 296 A.2d 829 (1972), in which we held*fn1 that there are no longer any "capital" offenses in this state, and that all offenses, including murder which may rise to murder in the first degree, are bailable.
In Truesdale, however, we did not abandon the well-settled rule that "the right to release before trial is conditioned upon the accused giving adequate assurance he or she will appear for trial." 449 Pa. at 337, 296 A.2d at 835. In fact, we emphasized that if the lower court reasonably concludes that a defendant may not appear for trial no matter how high the bail is set, it may deny bail ...