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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM MURRAY (03/18/75)

decided: March 18, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WILLIAM MURRAY, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Lee Mandell, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Carolyn Engel Temin, Asst. Dist. Attys., Chief, Appeals Div., Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 460 Pa. Page 607]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant William Murray was convicted after trial without a jury of murder in the second degree for the stabbing death of Hazel Smith. After the denial of appellant's motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment,*fn1 he was sentenced to serve a six-to-twenty year term of imprisonment. On this direct appeal,*fn2 we affirm.

[ 460 Pa. Page 608]

Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction of murder in the second degree. He argues that the Commonwealth failed to prove the malice necessary to constitute murder, and that he presented evidence sufficient to prove that he acted in self-defense. Our review of the record persuades us that this contention is meritless.

The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth,*fn3 discloses that, in the afternoon of June 28, 1972, Smith, appellant's son-in-law, sought and received permission to imbibe some wine from a bottle that appellant had purchased earlier in the day. After performing several errands, appellant returned to find his bottle entirely consumed. This discovery precipitated an argument that was concluded when appellant plunged a knife into Smith's chest, causing his death.

The standard of review we are to employ is well settled.

"The test of the sufficiency of the evidence is whether, accepting as true all of the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom upon which if believed the [factfinder] could have based [his] verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime for which he has been convicted."

Commonwealth v. McFadden, 448 Pa. 277, 281, 292 A.2d 324, 326 (1972).

Appellant recognizes that his argument that the Commonwealth failed to prove that the killing was malicious is undermined by the well-established principle that a fact-finder may permissibly infer the existence of malice from the intentional use of a deadly weapon on ...


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