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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PAULETTE WHITFIELD (12/01/77)

decided: December 1, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PAULETTE WHITFIELD, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Gilbert E. Toll, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

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

Author: Eagen

[ 475 Pa. Page 299]

OPINION

Paulette Whitfield was convicted in a non-jury trial in Philadelphia of murder of the third degree and possessing an instrument of crime generally.

[ 475 Pa. Page 300]

Initially a prison sentence of 9 months to 5 years was imposed on the murder conviction. However, upon reconsideration this was changed by the court to 5 years probation. A concurrent period of 5 years probation was also imposed on the remaining conviction. These appeals are from these orders.*fn1

Whitfield contends that the Commonwealth failed to sustain its burden of proving her sanity beyond a reasonable doubt, and even if it did meet this burden, the trial evidence was only sufficient to support a verdict of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder of the third degree. The Commonwealth's trial evidence established the following.

On October 29, 1974, at approximately 5:00 p. m. Whitfield went to her mother's house which was located across the street from her own residence. An argument ensued between Whitfield and Staunton "Stoney" Parker, the mother's common law husband, and to alleviate the situation Whitfield's mother pushed Parker out of the house.

Parker, a drug addict, then left for an appointment at a methadone clinic. Whitfield proceeded to her own house and came back outside carrying a knife. Her mother and others took the knife from her. Parker returned about an hour later. Having obtained a second knife, Whitfield walked from her own house over to where Parker was parking his car, a distance of 20 feet, and stabbed him once in the upper thorax. The wound was fatal.

The defense first offered the testimony of eight character witnesses. Whitfield's brother, Michael, then testified to events before and after the killing. Another brother, Clarence, testified to his observations of the stabbing incident and also to Staunton Parker's previous sexual molestations of Whitfield. Upon taking the stand, Whitfield testified mainly to the ...


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