A. Charles Peruto, Burton A. Rose, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Richard A. Sprague, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Mr. Chief Justice Jones joins.
W. A. "Tony" Boyle was convicted of three counts of murder of the first degree by a jury in connection with the slayings of Joseph "Jock" Yablonski, his wife, Margaret, and his daughter, Charlotte. Post-verdict motions were denied and judgments of sentence imposed. This appeal followed.
Boyle asserts numerous assignments of error and, in doing so, seeks various forms of relief, including: 1) an
arrest of judgment and discharge because the evidence is insufficient to support the verdicts; 2) a reversal of the judgments and quashing of the indictments because of the failure of the Commonwealth to afford him a preliminary hearing; and, 3) a new trial because of numerous errors during the course of the trial proceedings.*fn1
Boyle's contention that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdicts is devoid of merit. The test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether accepting as true all the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences which may be drawn 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. Brown, 467 Pa. 388, 357 A.2d 147 (1976); Commonwealth v. Carbonetto, 455 Pa. 93, 314 A.2d 304 (1974); Commonwealth v. Eiland, 450 Pa. 566, 301 A.2d 651 (1973). The evidence here clearly meets this test.
Boyle concedes the Commonwealth established that a conspiracy was formed to kill Joseph Yablonski and that Yablonski, his wife, and daughter were slain in furtherance
of that conspiracy.*fn2 But Boyle argues the evidence did not establish that he was a member of the conspiracy.
The evidence which showed that Boyle was a member of the conspiracy was both direct and circumstantial. The direct evidence consisted of the testimony of William Jenkins Turnblazer.
Turnblazer testified that he met with Boyle and Albert Edward Pass on June 23, 1969. He further testified that at the meeting Boyle gave orders to assassinate Joseph Yablonski. Specifically, Turnblazer testified that:
"He [Boyle] said, we are in a fight, we have got to kill Yablonski or take care of him,"
"Mr. Pass said that if nobody else would kill him, District 19 [of the United Mine Workers' Union] would,"
In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, Boyle would have us disregard this testimony because Turnblazer was shown to have given contradictory versions of the facts and circumstances related to the Yablonski slayings to police and in prior judicial proceedings. This we may not do. In passing upon a motion in arrest of judgment, all evidence in the record must be considered. Commonwealth v. Tabb, 417 Pa. 13, 207 A.2d 884 (1965). We might also point out the jury was made aware of Turnblazer's prior inconsistent statements and was told they were made in an effort to cover up both his and Boyle's involvement in the conspiracy. Under the circumstances, the determination of whether to believe Turnblazer was for the jury and the fact that
he may have previously testified or otherwise given contradictory versions to that to which he testified at trial is merely a circumstance which the jury would consider in making its determination of whether or not to credit his ...