Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Nos. 449 and 479 of 1973, in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Eddie Leonard Miller and Same v. Rickey Alonso Kauffman.
William F. Kaminski, Assistant Public Defender, and Blake E. Martin, Public Defender, for appellants.
Edwin D. Strite, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and John R. Walker, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.
[ 234 Pa. Super. Page 149]
Eddie Miller and Rickey Kauffman were found guilty by the court below, sitting without a jury, of criminal conspiracy*fn1 and criminal mischief.*fn2 Appellants raise numerous issues dealing primarily with the validity and interpretation of the criminal mischief statute and errors alleged to have been made at trial. Since we have decided these issues in favor of the Commonwealth, we will affirm the judgments of sentence.
The facts giving rise to this appeal are as follows. In the morning of October 29, 1973, it was discovered that the Snowy Mountain fire tower had been toppled. The tower, a steel structure composed of open beams of angle iron, supporting stairs and an observation cabin, was completely destroyed. It had fallen onto a pole of a power line that ran close to it, breaking off a transformer and putting a portion of the community of South Mountain out of electrical service. Two of the main legs and all the lower supporting beams of the structure had been cut. An examination of the cut steel indicated that a hacksaw had been used to fell the tower. Testimony was admitted showing the costs of replacing the tower, and repairing the electrical line totaled almost $35,000.
Christine High, the former girlfriend of appellant Eddie Miller, and Richard Wagaman, a juvenile, testified for the Commonwealth. The juvenile testified that late on
[ 234 Pa. Super. Page 150]
October 28, he and both appellants and a third adult boy had decided to saw down the Snowy Mountain fire tower. Hacksaws were obtained, the four proceeded to the tower, and while Richard held the flashlight, the others sawed the base of the tower. Although Richard was taken home before the tower fell, the next day the appellants and the third boy reported the details of the fall to him. Christine testified that the same story was told to her by the appellants and she was also able to show the police where the hacksaw blades could be recovered, since she was a passenger in the car when the blades were tossed from the vehicle. Close examination of the cut steel revealed fragments of red paint exactly matching that scraped from the sides of the hacksaw blades.
Charges were brought against the three adult boys and they were tried together. Rickey Kauffman and the third defendant called family members as witnesses to testify to their alibi defenses. Eddie Miller attempted to impeach the credibility of the prosecution witnesses Christine High and Richard Wagaman. The trial judge found all the defendants guilty of both criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief. In the case of the two appellants, sentences were imposed on both charges.
Appellants have attacked the criminal mischief statute under which they were convicted as being unconstitutional. They base their argument in this regard on the theories espoused in the unreported case of Commonwealth v. Watson, No. 384 October Term, 1973, Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, (Decided January 30, 1974) which dealt with the ...