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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOSEPH C. BROWN (04/12/79)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


submitted: April 12, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOSEPH C. BROWN, APPELLANT

No. 1294 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, No. CC7707751.

COUNSEL

Paulette J. Balogh, Assistant Public Defender, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Price, Hester and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Price

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 24]

Following a jury trial commenced on March 31, 1978, appellant was convicted*fn1 of endangering the welfare of a child*fn2 and recklessly endangering another person.*fn3 The charges stemmed from an incident where appellant severely beat his son. Post-trial motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were denied, and appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months less one day. On appeal, appellant's sole contention is that the granting of a new trial is warranted because the trial court committed prejudicial error by admitting into evidence six color photographs depicting injuries and bruises on his son's body. Finding no merit to this contention, we affirm the judgment of sentence.

We note, initially, that it is well settled that admission of photographs in a criminal case is largely within the sound discretion of the trial court, and its rulings will not be overruled on appeal unless there is an abuse of that discretion. Commonwealth v. Woodward, 483 Pa. 1, 394 A.2d 508 (1978); Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 472 Pa. 129, 371 A.2d 468 (1977); Commonwealth v. Petrakovich, 459 Pa. 511, 329 A.2d 844 (1974). The basic rule that evidence is admissible if it is relevant and competent applies equally to the admission of photographs or other types of demonstrative evidence as it does to the admission of the testimony of witnesses. Commonwealth v. Schroth, 479 Pa. 485, 388 A.2d 1034 (1978);

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 25]

    depicting injuries on the minor complainant's chest, arms, and back, were then shown to the jury for approximately three minutes; the photographs were not taken into the jury deliberation room, and the court gave a cautionary instruction in its charge to the jury.*fn5 Although the photographs, no doubt, were somewhat unpleasant to view, we cannot conclude that they were of an inflammatory nature. Indeed, our supreme court has held admissible photographs depicting scenes more severe than that presented herein. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Wade, 480 Pa. 160, 389 A.2d 560 (1978) (color photographs of a deceased infant illustrating the nature and extent of bruises and contusions he had received). Moreover, the photographs constituted evidence relevant to the Commonwealth's case and were necessary to prove the nature and extent of the injuries that the child received. Finally, the trial court took appropriate measures to insure that no prejudice would result from their admission. Viewed in this light, we conclude that the court of

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 27]

    common pleas did not err in admitting these photographs into evidence.

Accordingly, judgment of sentence is affirmed.


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