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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RUSSELL FORD (10/07/77)

decided: October 7, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RUSSELL FORD, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Paul Mark Perlstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., files a concurring opinion in which O'Brien, J., joins. Manderino, J., files a concurring opinion. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 474 Pa. Page 481]

OPINION

Appellant Russell Ford was indicted on separate counts for murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the killing of Leon Williams on July 2, 1973, in Philadelphia. Appellant filed timely pre-trial

[ 474 Pa. Page 482]

    motions to suppress certain statements given to the police and to quash the indictment. The suppression motion was granted after a hearing and the motion to quash denied. At the beginning of trial, the Commonwealth's attorney informed the court that he was proceeding on the murder count in the indictment and that the involuntary manslaughter charge would be nol-prossed at "the proper time." Appellant's counsel did not then object to this procedure or seek to have the general charges consolidated for trial. At the conclusion of the testimony, however, defense counsel submitted to the court a point for charge on the elements of involuntary manslaughter. This was denied. The jury found appellant guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Following denial of post-trial motions appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of one and one-half to ten years. This appeal followed.

Appellant has raised multiple assignments of error. Because of our disposition of this appeal on the issue of appellant's right to a charge on the offense of involuntary manslaughter, we do not reach the merits of any other issue except the claim that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. We are satisfied that the evidence was sufficient.*fn1

With respect to the requested point for charge on the elements of involuntary manslaughter, we have today stated that

[ 474 Pa. Page 483]

". . . [w]here in a trial of a case on a murder indictment there is present from whatever source evidence which would permit the fact-finder to return a verdict of involuntary manslaughter, a defendant is entitled, upon request, to a charge on the elements of that offense." Commonwealth v. Polimeni, 474 Pa. 430, 378 A.2d 1189 (1977) (opinion of Pomeroy, J., joined by Eagen, C. J., announcing decision of the Court).

The issue before us, then, is simply whether in this case there was evidence on which the fact-finder could rationally have based a verdict of involuntary ...


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