No. 238 March Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, at No. CC7607715
Lester G. Nauhaus, Asst. Public Defenders, Michael D. Foglia, Pittsburgh, for Bond Reduction Only.
John H. Corbett, Pittsburgh, Robert E. Colville, Dist. Attys., Robert L. Eberhardt, Charles W. Johns, Asst. Dist. Attys., Melanie Di Pietro, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.
Appellant, Roscoe Good, was convicted in a non-jury trial of voluntary manslaughter. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to a prison term of five to ten years. This direct appeal followed.
In this appeal, appellant challenges only the effectiveness of his trial counsel. He cites three reasons why he believes trial counsel was ineffective. He first alleges that counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately cross-examine a critical Commonwealth witness. He further alleges that counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue the defense of self-defense. Third, he believes counsel was ineffective for basing his defense on the hope that a critical Commonwealth witness would be unavailable. The facts are as follows.
At trial, the Commonwealth presented a series of witnesses who testified to the following scenario. On October 9, 1976, appellant was tending bar in Good's Garden Spot Bar (owned by his father), in the Brighton Heights section of the City of Pittsburgh. A patron informed Allen Travillion, another employee, that Lloyd Walker, the victim, was sleeping in the men's room. When appellant and Travillion attempted to get Walker out of the rest room, a fight broke out between appellant and the victim. The fight moved from the men's room to the tap room. During the scuffle, a shot was fired. The victim was wounded in the head. None of these witnesses, however, saw either party pull a gun or witnessed the shot being fired.
Following the testimony of these witnesses, the Commonwealth requested, and was granted, a continuance to secure the presence of Reather Mae Chambers, a barmaid at the time of the incident. Chambers testified at the coroner's inquest that she saw appellant standing at the end of the bar, pointing a gun at the floor and firing. Chambers then went behind the bar and saw the victim lying on the floor with a gunshot wound in the head. Since the coroner's inquest, Chambers had ignored Commonwealth subpoenas
and failed to show up for trial. A bench warrant was issued and Chambers was arrested and taken in to testify. Her testimony was similar to that given at the coroner's inquest.
Following the allegation of ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the post-verdict motions, an evidentiary hearing was held at which appellant's trial counsel testified. Counsel testified that he had interviewed Chambers after the coroner's inquest when she told him that because of her reluctance to testify, she was leaving the jurisdiction. Counsel then informed appellant that without Chambers' testimony, the Commonwealth would be unable to make out a ...