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decided: April 13, 1978.


Appeals from the judgments of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, at Nos. 2448-2451(a) Criminal Division, 1975.


William C. Costopoulos, Lemoyne, with him Kollas & Costopoulos, Lemoyne, for appellant, at No. 136.

Arthur L. Goldberg, Harrisburg, with him Harry B. Goldberg, Harrisburg, for appellant, at No. 130.

Marion E. MacIntyre, Second Assistant District Attorney, Harrisburg, with her LeRoy S. Zimmerman, District Attorney, Harrisburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Spaeth, J., files concurring and dissenting Opinion in which Hoffman, J., joins. Watkins, former President Judge, did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 253 Pa. Super. Page 506]

Appellants Paul Pettiford and Ronald J. Hooven were passing through Steelton on September 24, 1975, Mr. Pettiford driving his red Toyota with Mr. Hooven in the passenger seat, when the two men were stopped by a Steelton police officer, Robert E. McCaleb. The Pettiford car was traveling 40 miles per hour in a 25 mile an hour zone during a very heavy rain, and Officer McCaleb stopped the Toyota to issue a citation to the driver. While the police officer was sitting in his patrol car writing the citation, Hooven entered the back seat of the patrol car and began to verbally harass Officer McCaleb. Hooven left the patrol and returned twice. The final time, Officer McCaleb got out of the car, told Hooven he was under arrest and ordered him to get into the back of the police car. When Hooven resisted, the police officer attempted to put handcuffs on him. A pitched battle resulted, with Pettiford joining in to help his companion. The three men thrashed around in the pouring rain for 15 to 20 minutes, with McCaleb trying to put the handcuffs on Hooven. Pettiford literally had his shirt torn off and Hooven nearly lost his pants. Pettiford received several scalp wounds and Hooven a bruised eye; Officer McCaleb received numerous abrasions on his head. Additional police help finally arrived, and Hooven and Pettiford were handcuffed and taken away with little further resistance. Officer McCaleb later went to a hospital where he received 25 stitches for his head wounds and stayed overnight for observation. As a result of the incident, the officer suffered a hearing impairment.

Appellant Pettiford was charged with aggravated assault, hindering apprehension, and speeding. Appellant Hooven

[ 253 Pa. Super. Page 507]

    was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The two men were tried together before a jury on February 3-5, 1976, with the same attorney representing both men. Both defendants were found guilty and on April 22, 1976, were sentenced to pay $10 fines and serve 1 1/2 to 4 years imprisonment. Appeal was taken to our Court from the judgment of sentence.

Appellant Pettiford argues that the trial court erred in refusing to admit testimony concerning the reputation of police officer McCaleb, which testimony, it is argued, would have corroborated appellant's contention that the police officer was the aggressor in the fracas. The basis for the trial court's refusal to allow the testimony into evidence was the fact that neither defendant was aware of the police officer's reputation. In Commonwealth v. Amos, 445 Pa. 297, 284 A.2d 748 (1971), our Supreme Court stated:

"Appellant submits that the victim's record is admissible on either or both of two grounds: (1) to corroborate defendant's alleged knowledge of the victim's quarrelsome and violent character in an effort to show that defendant reasonably believed that his life was in danger; (2) to prove the allegedly violent propensities of the victim to show that the victim was in fact the aggressor. This Court has recognized this first ground at least since Abernethy v. Commonwealth, 101 Pa. 322, 329 (1882). In Abernethy, we said (at page 329) that evidence that the victim was a man of quarrelsome disposition was admissible to show that the defendant believed himself to be in danger when it had been shown that 'the defendant and the deceased were on terms of intimacy.' And this Court has recognized the second ground at least since Alexander v. Commonwealth, 105 Pa. 1, 9 (1884). There, evidence of the deceased's propensity for hostility, ...

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