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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LESTER SANTANA (03/18/75)

decided: March 18, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LESTER SANTANA, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Allan M. Tabas, Tabas, Horwitz & Furlong, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deborah E. Glass, 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. Jones, C. J., and Eagen and Pomeroy, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Nix

[ 460 Pa. Page 485]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Lester Santana, was indicted and charged with possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, heroin.*fn1 At the conclusion of his trial before a judge sitting without a jury, the appellant was found guilty as charged. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were argued and denied. Thereafter, appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of from six months to three years. An appeal was taken to the Superior Court which affirmed the judgment of sentence, the six judges hearing the appeal being equally divided. Commonwealth v. Santana, 228 Pa. Super. 756, 312 A.2d 803 (1973). We granted allocatur.

The principal issue involved in this appeal is whether the evidence presented by the prosecution was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant was illegally in possession of narcotic drugs.

"The task of the appellate court in reviewing the sufficiency claim is to determine whether, accepting as true all the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which, if believed, the jury could

[ 460 Pa. Page 486]

    properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted." Commonwealth v. Williams, 445 Pa. 539, 547, 316 A.2d 888, 892 (1974).

See also Commonwealth v. Fortune, 456 Pa. 365, 367, 318 A.2d 327, 328 (1974); Commonwealth v. Foster, 455 Pa. 216, 219, 317 A.2d 188, 189 (1974); Commonwealth v. Stanley, 453 Pa. 467, 469, 309 A.2d 408, 410 (1973).

We further recognize that:

"[C]ircumstantial evidence may, of course, be sufficient to convict. Nevertheless, because of the fact that it is circumstantial and that a grave wrong may be done to an innocent man by reasoning from circumstances not sufficiently cogent in themselves or as connected, and particularly not sufficiently exclusive of every innocent hypothesis, the courts have been very sedulous to prevent an innocent man being found guilty where the evidence does not conform to the acceptable standards." Rodriguez v. ...


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