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COMMONWEALTH v. RUBY (04/22/76)

decided: April 22, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RUBY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Dec. T., 1974, No. 165, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John William Ruby.

COUNSEL

Charles F. Haley and Michael M. Mamula, for appellant.

Robert F. Hawk, First Assistant District Attorney, and John H. Brydon, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Hoffman

[ 240 Pa. Super. Page 378]

Appellant contends that his conviction for robbery should be reversed because there was insufficient evidence that he committed the robbery in the county in which he was tried.

[ 240 Pa. Super. Page 379]

In the instant case the material facts are not in dispute. On September 7, 1975, appellant kidnapped the Strouse family in Clinton County. He ordered Mr. Strouse to drive west on Interstate Highway 80 to Interstate 79 and then south into Butler County, where he forced the Strouses out of their truck and departed. The Commonwealth contends that appellant took $130 from Mr. Strouse in Butler County. Appellant admits taking the money but contends that the robbery occurred in Centre County when the victim stopped for gas.

At trial on April 14, 1975, appellant admitted all the material facts of the robbery, but contended that the Butler County Court of Common Pleas was without jurisdiction because the offense occurred in Centre County. The lower court charged the jury on the jurisdictional issue, and the jury apparently believed that the crime occurred in Butler County. Appellant contends that his testimony as to the location of the crime is inherently more believable than the victim's because he was familiar with the area and the victim was not.

On the facts of this case, we hold that the location of the robbery is entirely irrelevant. It was unnecessary for the court below to charge the jury on this issue because the crime was committed during a journey and is, therefore, covered by the Act of March 31, 1860, P.L. 427, § 49, 19 P.S. § 525, which provides in relevant part:

"In order to obviate the difficulty of proof as to offenses committed during journeys from place to place, in any indictment for felony or misdemeanor committed on any person or on any property upon any stage coach, stage, wagon, railway car or other such carriage whatever employed in any journey, it shall be sufficient to allege that such felony or misdemeanor was committed within any county or place through any part whereof such coach, wagon, cart, car or other carriage shall have passed in the course of the journey during which such felony or misdemeanor shall have been committed: . . . and every such felony or misdemeanor committed in any

[ 240 Pa. Super. Page 380]

    of the cases aforesaid shall and may inquired of [sic], tried, determined and punished in the county or place within which the same shall be so alleged to have been committed, in the same ...


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