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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES LONG (03/18/75)

decided: March 18, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JAMES LONG, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Chas. Lowenthal, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, William P. Boland, 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. Roberts and Manderino, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 460 Pa. Page 463]

OPINION OF THE COURT

James Edward Long, the appellant, was tried and convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter. Following the denial of post-trial motions, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of from five to ten years. From that judgment of sentence appellant has taken this appeal, urging upon us two grounds for reversal.

Long contends, first, that the evidence was insufficient to support, beyond a reasonable doubt, the verdict of guilty; and second, that the admission of his signed confession into evidence was erroneous because it was the product of an unnecessary delay between his arrest and arraignment and because it was involuntarily obtained. We have decided that these claims are without merit, and will therefore affirm.

We have reiterated many times our scope of review in passing on claims attacking the sufficiency of the evidence in homicide cases: "'the test of sufficiency of evidence is whether accepting as true all the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which the jury could properly have based its verdict, such evidence and inferences are sufficient in law to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Commonwealth v. Carbonetto, 455 Pa. 93, 95, 314 A.2d 304, 305 (1974). See also Commonwealth v. Clark, 454 Pa. 329, 311 A.2d 910 (1973); Commonwealth v. Oates, 448 Pa. 486, 295 A.2d 337 (1972). It is axiomatic that the evidence is to be considered in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as the verdict winner. Commonwealth v. Rife, 454 Pa. 506, 509, 312 A.2d 406 (1973); Commonwealth v. Rankin, 441 Pa. 401, 404, 272 A.2d 886 (1971).

The evidence established that on the evening of September 26, 1970, appellant and several other men, including

[ 460 Pa. Page 464]

    the deceased victim, one Donald Gerse, were sitting on the porch of the house at 712 N. 34th St. in the City of Philadelphia, and were imbibing heavily of wine. At approximately 10:00 P.M. an argument broke out between Long and Gerse over who was entitled to sleep in a certain bed in the house next door, No. 710 N. 34th Street, where both men roomed. Soon after this argument the deceased entered the next door house to retire for the night, appellant following shortly.

The next morning two of the drinking companions from the preceding evening discovered the body of Gerse in his third floor bedroom. It was later determined that Gerse had died of exsanguination as a result of lacerations of the scalp and forearm. A blood-stained linoleum knife was discovered in a bedroom on the second floor, and it was later determined that at least one of the wounds had been inflicted by that instrument.

Appellant fled the premises shortly after the discovery of Gerse's body and before the arrival of the police. Based upon information supplied by Frank Richardson, one of the drinking group, the police obtained a warrant for the arrest of Long. Not until a year and a half later, however, on May 16, 1972, was long apprehended. The arrest was made in Chester, Pa., by the FBI, who turned the accused over to the Philadelphia police. Upon being questioned about the slaying of Gerse, appellant gave a formal statement in which he admitted that after going to the house at No. 710 on the night of the killing he had had ...


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