Louis Lipschitz, Philadelphia, for appellant.
F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Benjamin H. Levintow, Asst. Dist. Atty., Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
Following a trial by jury, appellant was found guilty of murder in the first degree, aggravated robbery, assault and battery with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery, assault and battery, and burglary. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, twenty years probation for aggravated robbery and seven years probation for the assault convictions; all sentences were to run concurrently. Sentence was suspended on the burglary conviction. This appeal followed.*fn1
The offenses of which appellant was convicted stemmed from the attempted robbery of a sporting goods store by Cronin and two other young men, William Flynn and Leon James. The latter two were acting at the behest of the appellant, who both plotted the details of the abortive robbery and served as getaway driver. During the course of the robbery attempt, the two brothers who owned the store, Henry and Louis Cooper, struggled with Flynn and James. Both were shot by Leon James. Louis died as a result of his wounds; Henry was severely wounded in the stomach, but survived.
Appellant Cronin has assigned various errors in the conduct of the trial. We have concluded that reversal is required because of improper statements made by the prosecutor in his closing argument to the jury, and therefore need not consider the other issues presented.*fn2
In the peroration of his argument to the jury, the assistant district attorney concluded as follows:
"Who said that Daniel Cronin, William Flynn and Jesse James had the right to play God and determine the precise moment at which Louis Cooper would leave this veil of tears?
"Who was it that said that these three had the right to play God and leave Henry Cooper in the condition ...