Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Montgomery County at Nos. C.A. 2182, 2182.1, April Term, 1974. No. 317 October Term, 1976.
Calvin S. Drayer, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Norristown, for appellant.
Bert M. Goodman and Eric J. Cox, Assistant District Attorneys, Norristown, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.
On April 24, 1975, a jury found Terry Kramer guilty of simple assault, menace; simple assault, bodily injury; aggravated assault, serious bodily injury and recklessly endangering another person. Crimes Code, Act of Dec. 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334, Sections 2701, 2702 and 2705, 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 2701, 2702, 2705. Defendant filed a motion for new trial and in arrest of judgment which was denied on September 15, 1975. He was subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a period of not less than three years nor more than six years on the charge of aggravated assault, serious bodily injury. Sentence on the charges of simple assault, menace, simple assault, bodily injury, and recklessly
endangering another person was suspended by reason of the previous sentence. From these verdicts and sentence, defendant has appealed to this Court alleging as error the trial court's ruling (a) that certain letters written by defendant to his wife while he was incarcerated awaiting trial and (b) that testimony regarding his conduct towards his children over a period of several years prior to the date in question be admitted into evidence during the trial. He is also alleging that the lower court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence and that the evidence did not support the verdict.
On June 1, 1974, Terry Kramer found a bicycle hidden in the woods behind his house and immediately suspected his two children, James who at the time was twelve years old and Shirley who was ten years old, of stealing it. When questioned about the bicycle the children stated that they had found it, but the defendant refused to believe them. He led the two of them to a shed that was approximately one hundred yards from their house and beat the two children with a stick. They testified that they were struck fifty times each. After the punishment, which the defendant referred to the beating as being, the children were allowed in the house for dinner, but immediately thereafter they had to go back outside. Later that same day, James received another beating with the stick being struck approximately ten more times. Eventually they were allowed to enter the house and went to bed.
Two days later when the children attended school, the principal spoke to them and discovered that they had received a beating over the weekend. Two weeks earlier the principal had observed Jimmy limping in school and Shirley with her hair cut in a crude and unattractive style which necessitated one of her teachers providing her a wig to wear so she would not be subject to the ridicule of the other children. These prior incidences, together with the inquiry which he made on June 3, 1974, gave rise to the principal's concern over the type of care the children were receiving at home. The plight of the children had been reported to the
Welfare Department in the past, but on this occasion a caseworker from the Child Welfare Agency actually came out to the school at the insistence of the principal and examined the children personally. The State Police were also called on this day and trooper Mary Rosetti reported to the school and took photographs of the children's injuries which were subsequently admitted into evidence during the trial.
The children were then taken into temporary custody by the Child Welfare Agency pursuant to a court order obtained from a judge of Montgomery County. They were then transported to North Penn Hospital where they were examined by a physician who observed that the young girl was wearing a wig to cover her partially shaved head and upon examination found both children to have severe bruises and abrasions over the entire area of their buttocks and Shirley also had bruises on her thighs. On June 7, 1974, trooper Rosetti secured an arrest warrant from the district justice and on the 11th of that month, along with two other officers, arrested ...