John H. Pope, Wendell G. Freeland, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Phillip L. Wein, Dist. Atty., Clarion, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Nix, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
Appellant, George Sangricco, was tried by a judge and jury and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act and aggravated assault. Appellant was sentenced to a four-to-ten year prison term for the manslaughter conviction with a concurrent one and one-half to three year term for the weapons conviction. Sentence was suspended on the assault conviction. This direct appeal followed.*fn1
The facts of the crime are as follows. At approximately 2:00 a. m. of August 2, 1973, the victim, Ronald Girts, died of a bullet wound to his head fired from point blank range. An ambulance was called and upon arrival the ambulance driver saw appellant attempting to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the victim. Girts was pronounced dead on arrival at the Clarion Community Hospital.
The Pennsylvania State Police began an investigation and interviewed both appellant and Sherilyn Girts, estranged wife of the victim. Both appellant and Ms. Girts told officers that they were in Ms. Girts' apartment when the victim arrived. They both told police that the victim had shot himself with appellant's gun. The police, however, found inconsistencies between the pair's story and the physical facts. Upon obtaining a search warrant, police administered a neutron activation analysis test which indicated that appellant had fired the weapon which was involved in the victim's death.*fn2
The affidavit presented to the magistrate in support of issuing the search warrant set forth:
"Ronald Eugene Girts was found, the victim of a gun shot wound at about 2:00 A.M. August 2, 1973; that the said Girts was found at the apartment of his estranged wife, Sherilyn Kay Girts; that Girts' wife and boy friend, George W. Sangricco were at the apartment at the time of the shooting when the deceased allegedly shot himself with a gun held in his right hand; that the wife and boy friend gave oral statements that they were the only individuals present at the scene at the time of the shooting and that there was no violence other than the self inflicted wound; that the wife and boy friend noticed nothing unusual about Girts except his temper;
"That the deceased was left handed and wound was inflicted on the right side of the head;
"That the deceased had been struck about the face, loosening his teeth, cutting his lips and puffing his eye;
"That the gun used to inflict the wound was a 32 calibre hand gun which only ...