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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONNY A. MEADOWS (02/28/77)

decided: February 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DONNY A. MEADOWS



COUNSEL

Abraham T. Needleman, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a concurring opinion.

Author: Eagen

[ 471 Pa. Page 203]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On July 5, 1971, at approximately 3:50 p. m., Mr. and Mrs. Louis Ostroff were robbed at gunpoint by three men in their candy store at 1706 Point Breeze Avenue in Philadelphia. The appellant, Donny Meadows, and one Richard Wilson, were taken into police custody shortly thereafter. A third man, Earl Thomas, was also arrested several days later. Meadows and Wilson were tried together in Philadelphia before a judge sitting without a jury on October 4-6, 1972. Upon completion of the testimony, the trial court deferred adjudication until February 8, 1973, at which time Meadows and Wilson were each found guilty of burglary and aggravated robbery.*fn1

[ 471 Pa. Page 204]

Imposition of sentence was deferred pending a presentence investigation and disposition of post-verdict motions. On April 29, 1974 (a year and a half after trial and more than a year after the verdict was rendered), the trial court granted Meadows' motion in arrest of judgment and ordered his discharge.*fn2 The Commonwealth filed an appeal from this order and the Superior Court vacated the trial court's order granting the motion in arrest of judgment, reinstated the verdict and remanded the case to the trial court for sentencing. Commonwealth v. Meadows, 232 Pa. Super. 292, 331 A.2d 827 (1974).*fn3 We granted allocatur.*fn4

Substantive authority and grounds for a criminal defendant's motion in arrest of judgment are found in the Act of June 15, 1951, P.L. 585, § 1, 19 P.S. § 871, which provides:

"Hereafter, in all criminal prosecutions in this Commonwealth in which the jury shall have rendered a verdict against the defendant, the defendant may, in addition to making a motion in arrest of judgment on the grounds that there is error appearing on the face of the record, may make a motion in arrest of judgment on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient

[ 471 Pa. Page 205]

    to sustain the charge, and if the court, after consideration of the entire record, shall decide that there is not sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction, it shall forthwith discharge the defendant and dismiss the case."

The trial court's grant of Meadows' motion in arrest of judgment was based on grounds of insufficient evidence and therefore, we must first determine whether the evidence at trial was sufficient to support ...


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