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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DALE ROBERTSON TONEY (10/07/77)

decided: October 7, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DALE ROBERTSON TONEY, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Stanley M. Poplow, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

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

Author: Manderino

[ 474 Pa. Page 244]

OPINION

Appellant, Dale Robertson Toney, was tried before a judge and jury and convicted of murder of the first degree.

[ 474 Pa. Page 245]

Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal followed.

Appellant first contends that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of murder in the first degree. When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we have repeatedly held that the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict winner giving that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn. Commonwealth v. Strand, 464 Pa. 544, 347 A.2d 675 (1975).

From the evidence, the jury could reasonably have concluded that the following circumstances surrounded the killing involved in this case. At 11:00 p.m., on October 18, 1974, Maurice Gray and the decedent, Steven Edwards, were standing on the corner of 56th and Lebanon Streets in Philadelphia, when they were surrounded by five youths. Appellant asked the pair where they were from. The decedent replied, "nowhere, we don't gang war." Another youth, Randy Coley, asked the pair for their addresses. Gray and the decedent responded with their street addresses. With no warning or provocation, Coley stabbed the victim in the chest. Gray turned and fled despite appellant's attempt to restrain him. As Gray fled, he heard shots fired but he was unable to identify the person firing the gun. The victim died within an hour from a single stab wound in the heart.

Appellant correctly points out that since he did not stab the victim, his conviction must be based on the theory that he was an accomplice of Coley. Section 306 of the Crimes Code provides that one can be convicted of being an accomplice if ". . . with the intent of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense [one] . . . aids or agrees or attempts to aid such other person in planning or committing it . . ." 18 C.P.S.A. § 306(c). Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to show that the appellant either aided, agreed to aid, or attempted to aid Coley in stabbing Edwards. We do not

[ 474 Pa. Page 246]

    agree. We believe the appellant's conviction is supported by the evidence. The jury could reasonably have inferred from appellant's participation in surrounding the victim and his friend, from the evidence of appellant's initiation of the conversation, and from appellant's attempt to restrain Gray following the stabbing, that appellant had prior knowledge of Coley's intent and a prior agreement to aid Coley in carrying out that intent. Appellant would thus have come within the definition of an accomplice. See Commonwealth v. Pierce, 437 Pa. 266, 263 A.2d 350 (1970); Perkins, Parties to Crime, 89 U.Pa.L.Rev. 581 (1941). On the basis of the same evidence, we reject appellant's argument that the evidence was insufficient to ...


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