Nos. 86 and 109, March Term, 1977, Appeal From the Order Entered on December 27, 1976 (No. 86 March Term 1977) and February 3, 1977 (No. 109 March Term 1977) of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Warren County, Pennsylvania at No. 131 of 1976.
Robert G. Huhta, Erie, for appellant.
Richard A. Hernan, Jr., Dist. Atty., Warren, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts and Nix, JJ., concurred in the result.
On February 12, 1976, Jason Jones was shot and killed in his room at Warren State Hospital. Appellant, Anthony Mangini, was arrested and charged with the homicide. On June 27, 1976, a jury determined appellant guilty of first-degree murder. Post-trial motions were denied and, on December 27, 1976, a sentence of life-imprisonment was imposed, from which judgment one of the two appeals is taken.
Following the conviction, but prior to sentencing, defense counsel filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis (to correct errors of fact). That petition alleged that facts were brought to counsel's attention of which he was not previously aware, and that, had those facts been known at appellant's pretrial suppression hearing, the lower court would have ruled to suppress certain evidence which was ruled admissible. By order dated February 3, 1977, the lower court denied that petition and appellant appeals the denial. On March 23, 1977, we granted appellant's application to consolidate the two appeals.
Since this case involves a conviction for murder of the first-degree, we have an independent duty to review the sufficiency of the evidence. Act of February 15, 1870, P.L. 15, § 2, 19 P.S. § 1187. In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict winner, in this case the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Blevins, 453 Pa. 481, 309 A.2d 421 (1973). The test to be applied is whether accepting as true all of the evidence, direct or circumstantial, and all reasonable inferences therefrom upon which, if believed, the jury could, properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime with which he is charged. Commonwealth v. Pitts, 450 Pa. 359, 301 A.2d 646 (1973).
In that light, therefore, the testimony at trial disclosed the following. At approximately 1:45 A.M. on February 12, 1976, the victim was found dead in his hospital bed. The death was caused by shot gun wounds of the chest. Commonwealth witness Floyd Crossley, a patient at the hospital occupying the same room as the deceased, testified that he saw appellant enter the room, shine a flashlight on the victim who was asleep, raise what he thought was a cane, aim it at the victim and fire two shots in succession. He further testified that appellant fled from his room in the direction of the day room, which was in the direction of the parking lot.
When state police arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter, they observed and photographed shoe prints leading from the exit door to the parking lot and tire tracks beginning where the footprints ended. These shoe and tire impressions were made in freshly fallen snow. At trial, Richard Greene, a state police identification officer, testified he compared the photograph of the shoe print with one of appellant's shoes and that, in his opinion, the print was made by appellant's shoe, which shoe had been seized pursuant to a search warrant. He further testified that upon comparison of the photograph of the tire imprint taken at the scene with ink impressions taken from a tire on a vehicle registered in the name of appellant's wife, the tire from said vehicle was the same tire which made the tracks in the snow at the scene of the homicide.
Appellant, an employee at the hospital, had been working in the area where the victim was found. The victim had appellant's telephone number written on a piece of paper found in his wallet, and appellant admitted knowing the victim. The evidence against defendant was clearly sufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appellant assigns as error the illegality of the search and seizure procedure in which his shoe and the tires from the car registered to his wife were seized. These items, among others, were seized pursuant to several search warrants issued on February 18, 1976. The search warrants recited the same statements of probable cause indicating that incriminating evidence of a crime would be found. The probable cause set forth in the warrants is stated as follows:
1. Tire imprints left at the scene are similar to imprints of the tires of the Chevrolet 2-door Sedan registered in the name of Betty R. Mangini, Tag No. 07044T.
2. Accessibility to the building where the criminal homicide occurred since both Betty R. Mangini and Anthony R. Mangini, as employees have keys for said building and both worked in the area of the crime.
. Investigative interviews revealed familiarity of both Betty R. Mangini and Anthony R. Mangini with the victim.
4. Availability -- both off duty at the approximate time the homicide occurred and both reside in the area.
5. Anthony R. Mangini and Betty R. Mangini are familiar with, and repeatedly used the door ...