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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONALD DAVID TREFTZ (05/01/79)

decided: May 1, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DONALD DAVID TREFTZ, APPELLANT



No. 67 March Term, 1978, Appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, dated April 17, 1978, at No. 40 December Term, 1973 denying post-conviction relief.

COUNSEL

Richard A. Peterson, Peterson & Gula, Greenville, for appellant.

David B. Douds, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

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

Author: Larsen

[ 485 Pa. Page 301]

OPINION

Appellant was convicted of murder of the first degree in the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas and his conviction was affirmed by this Court in Commonwealth v. Treftz, 465 Pa. 614, 351 A.2d 265 (1976). Appellant subsequently filed a petition under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA),*fn1 and following a hearing, relief was denied. This appeal follows wherein appellant raises eight issues, all of which concern the effectiveness of his trial counsel.

This Court held in Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 605-06, 235 A.2d 349, 352-53 (1967) that:

     counsel's assistance is deemed constitutionally effective once we are able to conclude that the particular course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to effectuate his client's interests. The test is not whether other alternatives were more reasonable, employing a hindsight evaluation of the record. Although weigh the alternatives we must, the balance tips in favor of a finding of effective assistance as soon as it is determined that trial counsel's decisions had any reasonable basis." [Emphasis in original]

"As a corollary, counsel is not ineffective for failing to raise baseless or frivolous issues." Commonwealth v. Wilson, 482 Pa. 350, 393 A.2d 1141, 1143 (1978).

Further, "[t]he findings of the PCHA court, which hears the evidence and passes on the credibility of the witnesses, should be given great deference. . . . Consequently, this Court will not disturb its findings if they are supported in the PCHA record. . . . This is true even when the record could support a contrary holding." Commonwealth v. Lee, 478 Pa. 70, 75, 385 A.2d 1317, 1320 (1978).

Appellant's first contention is that his trial counsel was ineffective on the grounds that he did not impeach the

[ 485 Pa. Page 302]

    credibility of Mary Gilkey (the Commonwealth's principal witness) by calling Barbara Gobel as a witness.

At trial, Mary Gilkey testified that on the evening of October 13, 1973, a meeting of a chapter of the Breed Motorcycle Club took place in the kitchen of her home. This meeting was attended by appellant Treftz, John Gilkey (Mary Gilkey's husband), and six other individuals including the deceased, who was a prospective member ...


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