Bruce S. Miller, Asst. Public Defender, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.
Patrick J. Toole, Jr., Dist. Atty., Wilkes-Barre, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
On May 24, 1972, Alexander Edinger, an inmate at the Dallas State Correctional Institution, died of knife wounds inflicted by appellant, David Scoggins, another inmate of the institution. Appellant was charged with murder in the first degree and assault by a life prisoner.*fn1 After a trial by jury Scoggins was convicted of murder in the first degree*fn2 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In this direct appeal,*fn3 appellant raises five allegations of error. We conclude that none of these claims is meritorious, and will affirm.
Appellant first challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction. It is well settled that "[t]he test of sufficiency of evidence is whether, accepting as true all the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which the jury could properly have based its verdict, such evidence and inferences are sufficient in law to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Commonwealth v. Clark, 454 Pa. 329, 331, 311 A.2d 910, 911 (1973). See also Commonwealth v. Green, 464 Pa. 557, 565, 347 A.2d 682, 686 (1975); Commonwealth v. Carbonetto, 455 Pa. 93, 95, 314 A.2d 304, 305 (1974). When reviewed in this light, the record amply supports the jury's verdict.
On several occasions during the days preceding the slaying, and again at breakfast on the morning of the knifing, Edinger verbally insulted Scoggins in front of mutual acquaintances. Shortly after breakfast on the fatal day, Scoggins sought Edinger out in his cell and there stabbed him six times. Edinger, screaming, broke away from Scoggins and fled from the cell. Scoggins closely pursued him with a sharpened butter knife poised above his head. The victim found sanctuary in a control room where Scoggins was finally subdued by a prison guard and several inmates. Edinger died six days later as a result of these wounds.
Scoggins has never denied stabbing Edinger. Rather, his position at trial was that he did so in self-defense. He testified that he went to Edinger's cell at Edinger's request; that once he was in the cell Edinger subjected him to verbal abuse, pulled a knife from under a blanket and initiated an attack resulting in several cuts on Scoggins' arm; that Scoggins repelled this attack by a kick
which caused Edinger to drop the knife and fall to his knees; that Scoggins then seized the knife and when Edinger renewed his assault, this time by attempted strangulation, appellant stabbed Edinger six times in self-defense. This account was corroborated by the testimony of a fellow ...