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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT PERKINS (06/03/77)

decided: June 3, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT PERKINS, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Stewart A. Bernstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Roberts, J., concurs in the result. Nix, J., concurs in the result. Manderino, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 473 Pa. Page 123]

OPINION

On March 4, 1975, appellant, Robert Perkins, was convicted by a jury of murder of the second degree, robbery, conspiracy and possession of an instrument of crime. Following the denial of post-verdict motions, a sentence of life imprisonment was imposed on the murder conviction. Prison sentences were also imposed on the robbery conviction (10-20 years) and the conspiracy conviction (5-10 years), these sentences to run concurrently with the life sentence, but consecutively to one another. Sentence was suspended on the conviction of possession of an instrument of crime. Perkins filed a direct appeal to this Court from the judgment of sentence on the murder conviction. The judgments of sentence on the robbery and conspiracy convictions were appealed to the Superior Court, which certified that appeal to this Court.

Perkins advances numerous assignments of error in support of reversal of the judgment and the grant of a new trial. For the reasons stated herein the judgments of sentence are affirmed.

The Commonwealth's evidence may be summarized as follows. On August 25, 1974, at approximately 8:17 a. m. the body of one Garvin Peters was discovered amidst the rubble and debris of an abandoned property at 1636

[ 473 Pa. Page 124]

North Franklin Street, Philadelphia. According to the testimony of Detective Robert Flannery, the officer who found the body, the victim's hands were tied and the body was lying in a pool of blood; also the victim's trouser pockets, one of which was torn, were turned out. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the cause of death was later established as multiple (eight) stab wounds of the chest and back. The medical examiner estimated the time of death as between 6:30 p. m. and 11:30 p. m. the previous night, August 24, 1974. The medical examiner also testified that the victim had cuts and bruises about his lips and that the victim's wounds were consistent with the type of wound which could be inflicted with a kitchen knife. He further opined that the victim was intoxicated at the time of death since the toxicology report indicated the alcoholic content of the victim's blood was .21 percent.

Detective Wilford Doyle, the assigned investigator in the case, testified he interviewed the victim's wife shortly after the discovery of the body and, as a result thereof, issued a police alert to be on the lookout for the victim's automobile, a dark green 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with a white vinyl top, license plate number 61J-444. This automobile was located that afternoon at a parking lot at 15th Street and Columbia Avenue. The automobile's front fenders were damaged and the left front tire was flat.

[ 473 Pa. Page ]

Gregory Page testified next for the Commonwealth and related that he saw Perkins (although at the time he knew him only by the name "Halfgun") on August 25, 1974, at approximately 1:30 a. m. in the neighborhood of 1714 North 15th Street, near Columbia Avenue. According to Page's testimony, Perkins and another individual named Thor were having a discussion concerning whether Thor was sober enough to drive a certain automobile, which Page identified as a green white-topped 1973 Delta 88, parked on 15th Street near the corner of Columbia

[ 473 Pa. Page 125]

Avenue. The result of the discussion was that Perkins took something*fn1 from his pocket and handed it to Thor, who then drove away in the car. Page further related that the same vehicle was parked in the parking lot at 15th Street and Columbia Avenue at 7:45 a. m., August 25, 1974, and that he observed the police photographing this automobile at 4:30 p. m. the same day. At trial Page identified the photographs taken by the police of the automobile found at 15th and Columbia as being photographs of the same car he referred to in his testimony.

The Commonwealth also introduced two statements made by Perkins on August 29, 1974, at the Police Administration Building. The first statement, made to Detective Raymond Dougherty between 7:15 a. m. and 8:53 a. m., was exculpatory in nature. The second statement, however, made to Detective William O'Brien between 9:02 a. m. and 9:50 a. m., was incriminating. The substance of the second statement was as follows: On the night of August 24, 1974, Perkins and an individual named Chinaman*fn2 decided to go to a party. After picking up a knife*fn3 at Chinaman's house ("in case there was any trouble at the party"), the pair had proceeded on their way, when it began to rain. They stopped at a Gino's restaurant where Chinaman asked "this old guy" [Peters], who was "drunk or something" for a ride to the party. Peters indicated he would give Chinaman a ride and went out to his car; Perkins and Chinaman followed. When Peters realized Perkins was also coming,

[ 473 Pa. Page 126]

    he refused to take them; a fight ensued during which Chinaman punched Peters in the face and Perkins stabbed him in the back a number of times. The two put Peters, who was "still moving around," in the back seat of the car, tied his hands, went through his pockets and took his wallet. At Chinaman's direction, Perkins drove the car to a "little street" where they dumped Peters, who was "still moving around," behind some houses. At this point, Perkins gave Chinaman the knife to dispose of and they then drove to the party at 11th and Huntington Streets. Following the party, the two again took the car, with ...


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