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decided: June 24, 1975.


Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, No. 1136 C.D. of 1973, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Wayne McArthur Mace.


Bruce E. Cooper, with him Charles E. Friedman, and Cooper, Friedman & Butler, for appellant.

Marion E. MacIntyre, Second Assistant District Attorney, with her Richard L. Guida, Chief Deputy District Attorney, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Jacobs

[ 234 Pa. Super. Page 465]

The present case is before us due to the death of a woman from a bungled abortion attempt, committed before these operations were legally available. Appellant Wayne Mace was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a jury in connection with this death. He now appeals, alleging denial of due process because he was unable to examine independently certain autopsy specimens, and error of the lower court in failing to dismiss the charge of involuntary manslaughter when it was determined that the Commonwealth could not prevail on a misdemeanor manslaughter theory.*fn1 We find these contentions without merit and therefore affirm.

[ 234 Pa. Super. Page 466]

The record reveals that the incidents surrounding the victim's death were as follows. In the early evening of August 15, 1971, when Mrs. Maley said goodnight to her husband and children, she was in excellent health. Later that night, she called her friend and employer, Mr. Anthony, from the Mace residence, requesting help. At Mr. Anthony's arrival, Mrs. Maley appeared pale and ill, and moments later collapsed, unconscious. Mr. Anthony promptly called his doctor, then put Wayne Mace on the line to explain Mrs. Maley's condition.*fn2 According to the doctor's testimony, the appellant informed the doctor that he had injected the victim with 30 or 40 cc's of potassium iodide to procure an abortion, and that she had apparently gone into shock. The victim was subsequently removed to a hospital where she died on August 18, 1971, without regaining consciousness.

[ 234 Pa. Super. Page 467]

Five different doctors and a toxicologist testified at trial as to the physical cause of death. Upon her admission to the hospital, the victim's condition was diagnosed as that of shock, a broad medical term which does not comprehend specific causes. See Dorland's Illustrated Page 467} Medical Dictionary 1374 (24th ed. 1965). At her death, the cause was recorded as shock status, cause unknown. An autopsy revealed the abdominal cavity full of two pints of loose blood. The hemorrhaging was due to the necrosis of tissue (death of tissue prior to death of the patient) in various reproductive organs. The body of the victim also evidenced severe damage to the lungs and brain. Portions of all these organs, as well as fluids from the body, were removed for further analysis. Tissue from the organs was preserved in paraffin to make it possible to cut microscopic slides.

Chemical analysis of the autopsy specimens revealed the presence of potassium iodide in various concentrations throughout the body. A medical expert stated that potassium iodide was a corrosive substance when it is in a concentrated state and gave the opinion that the chemical had been injected into the victim's system in such a strong concentration as to cause cardiac arrest and general collapse of the circulatory system, and to coagulate the protein molecules in the body tissue, thus creating massive hemorrhaging. In the doctor's opinion, the specific cause of Mrs. Maley's death from shock was the introduction of a strong concentration of potassium iodide into her system.

Appellant first argues that he was entitled to an independent medical expert's evaluation of the autopsy specimens to determine cause of death. It is undisputed that the actual tissue and other autopsy specimens removed during the autopsy were destroyed on January 14, 1972, by the laboratory where they had been analyzed.*fn3 Appellant's argument is based on the discovery rights available to a defendant under Pa.R.Crim.P. 310, which ...

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