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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ISRAEL HUNTLEY (03/17/76)

decided: March 17, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ISRAEL HUNTLEY, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

McEldrew, Hanamirian, Quinn, Bradley & D'Amico, Philip M. Gilligan, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Manderino

[ 466 Pa. Page 376]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Israel N. Huntley, was convicted in a non-jury trial of voluntary manslaughter for the fatal stabbing of his common-law wife, Bernice Short. Post-verdict motions were denied and a sentence of two and one-half to seven years imprisonment was imposed. This appeal followed.

Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt of voluntary manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. After an examination of the record, we conclude there is no merit to the issue raised and affirm the judgment of sentence.

The prosecution's evidence established that during the day prior to the fatal stabbing of Bernice Short, she and the appellant had been drinking at various places. That evening, they visited the home of appellant's sister, where they decided to spend the night. Shortly after they retired to the bedroom, an argument broke out during which the victim was stabbed three times. The argument between the parties continued as they both came out of the bedroom into the hallway. Appellant was seen striking the victim with his hand. Shortly thereafter, the victim died of a stab wound to the chest. A knife

[ 466 Pa. Page 377]

    was later found in the victim's purse. Examination of the knife revealed no fingerprints.

The crucial issue at trial was what happened in the bedroom. Appellant testified that as he and the victim were arguing, the victim pulled out a knife, and as they struggled over the knife, the victim was accidentally stabbed as she was holding the knife. The appellant also testified that he held his liquor well, was not drunk at the time, and remembered clearly what happened.

The appellant's version of the facts, however, was inconsistent with the evidence presented by the prosecution. On appeal from a guilty verdict, the prosecution's evidence, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, must be accepted as true when determining whether guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Carthon, 467 Pa. , 354 A.2d 557 (1976); Commonwealth v. Burton, 450 Pa. 532, 301 A.2d 599 (1973); Commonwealth v. Stukes, 435 Pa. 535, 257 A.2d 828 (1969).

Appellant's niece, a prosecution witness, testified that she slept in a bedroom adjacent to the bedroom in which the appellant and the victim had retired for the night. She testified that she overheard their conversations, and that the decedent said, "Don't push me. Don't push my leg . . ." Then she heard the appellant say, "You say one more word ...


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