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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. TERRY KRAMER (10/07/77)

decided: October 7, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
TERRY KRAMER, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Roger B. Reynolds, Jr., Norristown, for appellant.

William T. Nicholas, Dist. Atty., Stewart J. Greenleaf, Eric J. Cox, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 474 Pa. Page 343]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Terry D. Kramer, was tried by a judge and jury and convicted of voluntary manslaughter. Post-verdict motions were denied, and appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five to ten years. This appeal followed.

[ 474 Pa. Page 344]

The facts are as follows. On October 11, 1967, Linda Carol Kramer, appellant's ten-month-old daughter, was pronounced dead at the Pottstown Memorial Hospital. The Montgomery County Coroner ordered R. A. Schofield, M. D., to perform an autopsy and the Montgomery County Detective's Office immediately began an investigation of the child's death. Dr. Schofield performed the autopsy and determined that the cause of death was peritonitis caused by a perforation of the large bowel. There were a few bruises on the victim's abdomen, which the victim's mother told officers were caused when a five-year-old sister tripped and fell on the infant. Following their investigation, neither the coroner's office nor the county detective's office found any evidence of criminal actions and no criminal charges were brought at that time.

In August of 1974, appellant's wife, Mary Ann, told police that on the date of the victim's death, she saw appellant strike the infant twice in her stomach. Mrs. Kramer also told police that appellant warned her not to go to the police. As a result of Mrs. Kramer's statement, appellant was indicted for murder and voluntary manslaughter seven years after the death of his daughter.

At trial, Mrs. Kramer testified that she saw the appellant strike the victim twice in the stomach. Dr. Schofield testified that peritonitis was the cause of death, but the cause of the peritonitis was not anatomically apparent. The Commonwealth then called Dr. Halbert Fillinger, an expert in forensic pathology, who was asked a hypothetical question concerning the cause of death based on the testimony of Mrs. Kramer and facts contained in the autopsy report. He testified that in his opinion peritonitis was the cause of death and that the peritonitis was caused by the blows being delivered to the infant's abdomen as described in Mrs. Kramer's testimony.

Appellant first alleges that the Commonwealth failed to show any causal connection between his alleged blow to the victim's abdomen and the victim's death. Appellant thus

[ 474 Pa. Page 345]

    claims that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for voluntary ...


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