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COMMONWEALTH v. PARSONS (03/31/75)

decided: March 31, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
PARSONS, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, No. 8 of 1974, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Arthur Garfield Parsons.

COUNSEL

Peter J. Webby, for appellant.

Joseph J. Van Jura, Assistant District Attorney, and Patrick J. Toole, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P.j., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Price, J. Dissenting Opinion by Hoffman, J. Spaeth, J., joins in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Price

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 420]

Appellant, Arthur Garfield Parsons, was arrested on October 13, 1973, on a charge of receipt of stolen property (guns). Appellant pled not guilty and waived his right to trial by jury. Following the trial on February 14, 1974, he was found guilty of receiving stolen goods. On March 13, 1974, Mr. Parsons was sentenced to six to twenty-four

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 421]

    months in the Luzerne County Prison, plus costs. This appeal was filed on March 27, 1974.

Appellant raises two issues which, he contends, require that he be granted a new trial. They are (1) that the Commonwealth did not sustain its burden of proof on the charge of receiving stolen goods, and (2) that the trial judge committed an abuse of discretion in crediting the testimony of the Commonwealth's witnesses rather than that of appellant. We find no merit in either allegation and will affirm the judgment and sentence.

It is well established law in this Commonwealth that before a person may be convicted of a crime, the Commonwealth must establish that that person was the responsible party beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Gardner, 282 Pa. 458, 128 A. 87 (1925). A reasonable doubt is one that would cause a juror to hesitate to act in any of the important affairs of his own life, Commonwealth v. Pearson, 450 Pa. 467, 303 A.2d 481 (1973), and it must be an honest doubt arising out of the evidence itself. Commonwealth v. Burns, 409 Pa. 619, 187 A.2d 552 (1963).

In the instant case, appellant was charged with a violation of Section 817 of the Penal Code, Act of June 24, 1939, P. L. 872, § 817; Act of May 21, 1943, P. L. 306, § 1, 18 P.S. § 4817. That section provides: "Whoever buys, has, or receives any goods, chattels, money or securities, or any other matter or thing, which shall have been stolen or feloniously taken, either in this Commonwealth or in any other state or country, knowing, or having reasonable cause to know the same to have been stolen or feloniously taken, is guilty of a felony, and on conviction, shall be imprisoned not exceeding five (5) years or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both."

The Commonwealth, in order to sustain its burden of proof in this case, had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant knew or should have known

[ 233 Pa. Super. Page 422]

    that the rifle and shotgun he received were stolen goods, that the goods were stolen in fact, and that appellant in fact received the goods. Commonwealth v. Roth, 169 Pa. Superior Ct. 88, 82 A.2d 710 (1951). Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, as we must, Commonwealth v. Blevins, 453 Pa. 481, 309 A.2d 421 (1973); Commonwealth v. Porter, 229 Pa. ...


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