No. 16 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, at No. 36 January Term, 1976. - Criminal
Leonard J. Frawley, Public Defender, Towanda, for appellant.
W. Marshall Dawsey, District Attorney, Towanda, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Jacobs, President Judge, and Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, Spaeth and Hester, JJ. Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
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This appeal follows appellant's conviction and sentencing in the court below after a non-jury trial on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. The issue presented to us is whether the Commonwealth produced sufficient evidence to sustain the verdict. For the reasons that follow, we hold that the evidence was sufficient, and therefore affirm the judgment of sentence.
Testimony adduced at trial and viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth reveals that on November 7, 1975, appellant travelled a short distance from his home to a gas station, where he stayed for a short time to discuss a towing bill he had received. On the return trip home, he drove his 1969 Mercury station wagon in the west lane of the two-lane section of U.S. Route 6, to the point where Route 6 becomes a three-lane highway. At that juncture, appellant operated his vehicle in the center passing lane of traffic, and at some undetermined point, crossed into the oncoming eastbound lane. Just below the crest of a sweeping hill to the right, his vehicle collided with a 1969 Ford coupe travelling in the east lane of Route 6, resulting in the death of Elwin Loomis, the operator of the oncoming vehicle.
The accident occurred at approximately 5:00 P.M. on a dry, concrete highway. The investigating state policeman testified that when he arrived at the scene of the fatal collision, the left rear tire of appellant's vehicle was approximately three feet into the eastbound lane, followed by nine feet of heavy skid marks. Skid marks from appellant's automobile also extended into the center of the eastbound lane, and while forty-eight feet of skid marks led up to the rear tires of the decedent's vehicle, these latter marks were confined to the east lane. The officer also testified that most of the debris from the collision was in the eastbound lane.
Appellant was subsequently arrested and indicted on the charge of involuntary manslaughter, and tried before the court below without a jury. The court returned a verdict of
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guilty on July 30, 1976, and after denial of post-trial motions, imposed sentence of thirty-six months probation. This appeal followed.
Appellant contends that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to show the recklessness required to sustain a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is defined in the Crimes Code as follows:
A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person. Act of ...