No. 380 January Term 1976, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia at No. 1433 February Term 1975.
John C. Anderson, Philadelphia, for appellant.
F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Nix, J., filed a concurring opinion. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joined.
Anthony R. Jones appeals from the sentence of life imprisonment imposed following his conviction of murder of the first degree after a non-jury trial in Philadelphia.
The sufficiency of the evidence to warrant a finding of murder of the first degree is first questioned. A study of the record demonstrated this complaint is without merit.
Viewing the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, it establishes the following:
On January 7, 1975, at 6:30 p. m., the dead body of Eva Smith was found in her home by her son, Preston Smith. Police were called and observed the deceased lying on the floor with multiple stab wounds in the back and various blows to the head. They found two fresh fingerprints on the doorjamb in the area near where the body was found. It was later ascertained that the fingerprints were those of Jones.
Preston Smith informed the police that his mother and he were the only occupants of the premises; that Jones was a friend of his mother and a frequent visitor; that on one occasion Mrs. Smith discovered Jones rummaging through her purse; that Jones had driven her car in the past; and, that this car, which was equipped with a burglar alarm requiring a special key, was missing. Although there was no evidence of forcible entry, Eva Smith's pocketbook was found open on the kitchen table with some of the contents missing including the key to her car's burglar alarm.
On the basis of this information, Jones was arrested without a warrant in his home on January 31, 1975, at 7:20 a. m. and was immediately taken to the Police Administration Building. At about 11:30 a. m., he admitted assaulting the victim and shortly thereafter gave the police a detailed description of the occurrence which was stenographically recorded. In sum, Jones told the police that, after watching television and talking to Eva Smith, he suffered a "migraine headache;" that "this migraine headache came over me and I got like mad;" that, without provocation, he then got an ash tray and hit Smith in the back of her head with it and knocked her down; that he then beat Smith with a telephone and stabbed her ...