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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BENJAMIN TERRY (11/18/78)

decided: November 18, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
BENJAMIN TERRY, APPELLANT



Nos. 67 & 156 January Term, 1974, Appeals from Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Philadelphia, at Nos. 339 - 342 March Sessions, 1971

COUNSEL

Austin J. McGreal, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Edward G. Rendell, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Clifford E. Haines, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, J., files a dissenting opinion which Manderino, J., joins.

Author: O'brien

[ 482 Pa. Page 566]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Benjamin Terry, was convicted by a judge sitting with a jury of three counts of murder of the first degree and one count of arson for the January 11, 1971 firebombing of a house at 2927 N. Fairhill Street, Philadelphia, in which three people were killed. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment for the murder convictions with a concurrent prison term of ten to twenty years on the arson conviction.

A direct appeal was filed in this court in which appellant raised the following issues:

"I. Was the statement of appellant taken without his having been properly advised of his constitutional rights and during a period of unnecessary delay?

"II. Was the admission into evidence of testimony concerning another fire immediately next door to the deceased's home two days before the fire at issue in this case prejudicial error?

"III. Was the admission of certain photographs of the scene inflammatory so as to prejudice appellant's rights?

"IV. Were the statements in closing argument concerning the lack of remorse demonstrated by appellant unfair and prejudicial to appellant's rights?"

We held that sufficient evidence existed to sustain the convictions and that admission into evidence of testimony concerning the fire next door was not prejudicial error. The case was then remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia for a specific finding of whether or not the remaining allegations of error had been considered by the

[ 482 Pa. Page 567]

    court en banc and preserved for appellate review.*fn1 Commonwealth v. Terry, 462 ...


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