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COMMONWEALTH v. SMITH (03/31/75)

decided: March 31, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SMITH, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, April T., 1973, Nos. 22 and 96, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hale Smith.

COUNSEL

John P. Lawler, Public Defender, for appellant.

C. Daniel Higgins, Assistant District Attorney, and James F. Marsh, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 536]

Appellant Hale Smith was arrested on December 11, 1972 and charged with burglary, larceny, and receiving stolen goods, and, on a separate count, with larceny and receiving stolen goods. A jury fund appellant guilty of all the offenses charged, and appellant was sentenced on August 16, 1974, to pay a fine of three hundreds dollars and serve a term of one and one-half to three years on the burglary conviction, with sentence suspended on the other convictions. The case is before us on appeal from the denial by the lower court of appellant's Motion in Arrest of Judgment and Motion for a New Trial.

The sole argument presented by appellant is that his conviction was based upon insufficient evidence. The facts, viewed in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, Commonwealth v. Porter, 229 Pa. Superior Ct. 314, 323 A.2d 128 (1974), are as follows:

On December 9, 1972 (a Saturday), at approximately 12:45 P.M., an employee of the Edward R. Lawson Company parked one of the company's trucks in its usual spot in the company's lot in Stroudsburg, locked the truck and took the keys. In the cab of the truck was the truck's registration card; in the back of the truck was a box of snowchains and a handcart, both of which had labels which identified them as belonging to the Edward R. Lawson Company of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. On this

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 537]

    same day, at approximately 6:00 P.M., the Pocono Snowmobile Center in Mount Pocono closed for business. When an employee of the Snowmobile Center arrived at 9:00 A.M. the following morning, he found that the place had been broken into and that seven snowmobiles, various items of clothing, and some blank checks were missing. The thieves left behind them the box of snowchains and the handcart belonging to the Edward R. Lawson Company. The police were notified and they in turn contacted Mr. Robert Lawson, owner of both the Edward Lawson Company and Pocono Distributing, at which time the theft of the Lawson Company's truck was discovered.

On Monday, December 11, 1972, at approximately 2:00 P.M., two state policemen were conducting a routine traffic check on a road near Quakertown when they stopped three trucks which were proceeding "as though they were together, or . . . in a convoy." Appellant was driving the second of the three trucks -- a truck that had on its side the words "Pocono Distributing." One of the troopers, Sylvester T. Myers, was in the process of checking appellant's operator's license and the vehicle's registration card when the third truck pulled back onto the highway and disappeared from sight around a bend in the road. Trooper Myers gave chase in his patrol car, but was unable to spot the fleeing truck. While searching various roads in the area, Myers again observed appellant in Lawson's truck, this time traveling on a road other than the one he was on when first stopped. The trooper followed appellant while attempting to contact the state police station in Quakertown (to see if the truck had been stolen), eventually stopping appellant for a second check. At this time, Trooper Myers observed a screwdriver in the ignition switch in place of a key. When asked by the trooper whether he was employed by the company whose name was on the registration card, appellant replied that he was employed by that company.

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 538]

Testimony of Robert Lawson established that appellant was not employed by either the Edward R. Lawson Company or by Pocono Distributing. After appellant and the truck were transported to the state police barracks in Quakertown, the state police searched the truck and found, on the floor in front of the seat on the right side, three of the blank checks, and in the body ...


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