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COMMONWEALTH v. RUEHLING (02/27/75)

decided: February 27, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RUEHLING, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1973, No. 6577, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edward Ruehling.

COUNSEL

John H. Corbett, Jr., Trial Defender, John J. Dean, Chief, Appellate Division, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellant.

Louis R. Paulick and Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorneys, John M. Tighe, First Assistant District Attorney, and John J. Hickton, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.

Author: Jacobs

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 380]

Appellant presently challenges the sufficiency of evidence used to convict him of the crimes of kidnapping,*fn1 statutory rape,*fn2 and indecent assault.*fn3 Before we consider these contentions it is necessary to carefully review the facts surrounding this appeal.

Plagued with an assortment of financial problems on the evening of August 30, 1973, appellant, a 35 year-old married man, attempted to forget them by visiting a local tavern. After drinking several beers and shots of whiskey, appellant drove to the Leslie Park Swimming Pool in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. There he observed several young people swimming in the pool even though it was late in the evening. One girl, the 15 year-old prosecutrix, attracted his interest. As she was leaving the pool area, appellant grabbed her and told her that he was a police officer and wanted to talk to her

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 381]

    about drugs. The two proceeded to appellant's car. Once in the car, appellant displayed a gun and told the prosecutrix that she must go with him. Appellant then drove to an isolated area, some 30 miles from the place of abduction. After the car was parked, the prosecutrix resisted appellant's advances. A fight ensued and appellant dragged the prosecutrix from the car and beat her up. Appellant then pulled her pants down, pushed her to the ground, and got on top of her. The prosecutrix testified that she was forced to open her legs and felt a sharp pain in the area of her vagina. At the conclusion of these acts, appellant drove the prosecutrix to a phone booth where he dropped her off. The police soon picked up the proxecutrix at that location. Subsequently, the prosecutrix received medical care at a local hospital and a vaginal smear disclosed the presence of sperm. Appellant was arrested, charged, and convicted in a non-jury trial of several crimes including kidnapping, statutory rape and indecent assault. From his sentence of 4 to 12 years imprisonment, appellant has appealed.

Initially we must recognize that in determining whether the evidence was sufficient to support a guilty verdict, we accept the Commonwealth's evidence as true, including all reasonable inferences therefrom. Commonwealth v. Coe, 226 Pa. Superior Ct. 594, 323 A.2d 213 (1974).

Appellant first argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for kidnapping. Under § 2901 of the Crimes Code, a person is guilty of kidnapping if: "he unlawfully removes another a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where he is found, or if he unlawfully confines another for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions: . . . (2) To facilitate commission of any felony or flight thereafter." Under the facts presently before us, we are convinced that there was sufficient evidence to find appellant guilty of kidnapping. Appellant

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 382]

    claims that 30 miles cannot be considered a substantial distance under the statute. We disagree and find that appellant's actions in removing the prosecutrix from the company of her friends and transporting her a distance of 30 miles into the next county established the first element of the crime of kidnapping. Appellant's actions clearly show that he ...


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