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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RUSSELL E. WILLIS (11/18/78)

decided: November 18, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
RUSSELL E. WILLIS, JR., APPELLANT



Nos. 165 and 219 March Term 1977, Appeals from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at Nos. CC7508278-A and CC7508507-A.

COUNSEL

Lester G. Nauhaus, John H. Corbett, Jr., John R. Cook, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Charles W. Johns, Asst. Dist. Attys., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, Nix and Manderino, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 483 Pa. Page 22]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On May 21, 1976, Russell E. Willis, Jr., appellant, was convicted by a jury in Allegheny County of murder of the third degree and robbery with a weapon. Post-verdict motions were denied; judgments of sentence of two concurrent terms of imprisonment for ten to twenty years were imposed. These appeals followed.

Willis advances two arguments which respectively seek discharge or the grant of a new trial.

In support of his request for discharge, Willis argues the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the verdict. Specifically, Willis asserts the Commonwealth's evidence failed to establish his participation in the crimes

[ 483 Pa. Page 23]

    and merely showed his presence at the scene. He acknowledges the sufficiency of the Commonwealth's evidence to convict if a statement given to the police and introduced into evidence at trial is considered because it ". . . connect[ed] . . . Willis to the commission of the crimes"; but, Willis would have us disregard the statement in evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence because it was allegedly illegally obtained and should have been suppressed. This we may not do. In evaluating the sufficiency of evidence to support a conviction,

". . . the test is 'whether accepting as true all the evidence 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 defendant is guilty of the crime charged.' Commonwealth v. Kravitz, 400 Pa. 198, 201, 161 A.2d 861, 862 (1960) and cases cited therein. Moreover, in passing upon such a motion, all evidence actually received must be considered, whether the trial rulings thereon were right or wrong. Commonwealth v. Tabb, 417 Pa. 13, 207 A.2d 884 (1965). Although we are of the opinion that the evidence can support the verdict even without the improperly admitted evidence which we shall discuss with regard to the new trial motion, it is clear that the evidence can be considered on the motion for arrest of judgment."

Commonwealth v. Crews, 429 Pa. 16, 18-19, 239 A.2d 350, 352 (1968). Accord Commonwealth v. Terenda, 433 ...


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