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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN PAUL BEDERKA (01/27/75)

decided: January 27, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOHN PAUL BEDERKA APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Gerald R. Solomon, Simon B. John, Uniontown, for appellant.

Conrad B. Capuzzi, Dist. Atty., Lawrence D. McDaniel, Wm. M. Radcliffe, Uniontown, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Roberts, Nix and Manderino, JJ., concur in result.

Author: O'brien

[ 459 Pa. Page 656]

OPINION

Appellant, John Paul Bederka, was tried by a judge and jury and found guilty of murder in the first degree. Post-trial motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal followed.

On October 24, 1971, Dr. David F. Sennett, a physician in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was found dead in the front seat of his automobile, which was parked in front of the residence of Caroline Bederka, the estranged wife of appellant. Death was caused by two shotgun blasts, fired at point-blank range. Appellant was subsequently arrested and found guilty of the homicide.

In this appeal, appellant first argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not agree. The test to be applied in determining the sufficiency of the evidence was stated

[ 459 Pa. Page 657]

    in Commonwealth v. Pitts, 450 Pa. 359, 301 A.2d 646 (1973), wherein we held:

"the test to be applied in determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether accepting as true all of the evidence, be it direct or circumstantial or both, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, upon which, if believed, the jury could properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of which he has been convicted." At page 361, 301 A.2d at page 647.

Viewing the evidence in this light, the following facts were established by the Commonwealth: Appellant and his wife had been separated prior to the shooting of Dr. Sennett, the victim. Appellant's wife had been seeing the victim socially prior to the shooting. Four days prior to the shooting, appellant had told his neighbor that he had heard about the victim and his wife and that he (appellant) was going to "get them" and that the neighbor would be reading about it in the newspapers. Appellant's daughter-in-law stated that appellant had told her that he was going to kill his wife and then himself. A neighbor of the appellant stated that shortly after the established time of the murder, he saw appellant pull into his driveway and alight from his car, carrying a shotgun. A witness who did not see the actual shooting stated that prior to the shooting he saw a dull black Volkswagen parked in front of Mrs. Bederka's apartment. Appellant's son testified that appellant owned a dull-finished black Volkswagen. After the shooting, police investigating the possible involvement of appellant discovered a 12-gauge shotgun at his ...


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