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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WAYNE EARL LIDDICK (05/01/79)

decided: May 1, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
WAYNE EARL LIDDICK, APPELLANT



No. 15 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the judgment of sentence by the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County at No. 237 August Sessions (York County, County of Transfer) 1973, Criminal Division

COUNSEL

William C. Costopoulos, Kollas & Costopoulos, Lemoyne, for appellant.

John C. Uhler, Dist. Atty., York, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Larsen

[ 485 Pa. Page 123]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The appellant, Wayne Earl Liddick was convicted of murder of the first degree following a second jury trial in October of 1977.*fn1 Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. In this direct appeal appellant raises two contentions, both of which are without merit.

[ 485 Pa. Page 124]

Appellant first contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict. The applicable statute which defined murder of the first degree provided [in pertinent part]: "A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the first degree when it is committed by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing." 18 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 2502(a) (1973). The test for the sufficiency of evidence in a criminal case is whether, viewing all of the evidence admitted at trial in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to enable the trier of fact to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Bastone, 466 Pa. 548, 353 A.2d 827 (1976). Viewed in this light the evidence introduced at trial established the following facts: The appellant and his wife, Sharon Liddick, (the deceased) had been separated for nine months prior to the murder. The appellant expressed hatred for the deceased on numerous occasions after she had filed criminal charges against him following their separation. Ronald Liddick, the appellant's cousin, testified that he and appellant had devised a plan to murder the decedent. According to the plan, they were to abduct the decedent following her departure from the Enola Hotel, where she normally visited on Friday nights. The plan involved disabling the decedent's automobile while she was driving from the hotel and then immediately abducting her. The decedent was then to be killed and her body disposed of in a nearby lake. The two men had purchased rafts to transport the body out into the lake, and chains to support weights which would be attached to the body, thus preventing the body from surfacing. Approximately two months prior to the murder, Ronald Liddick refused to participate any further in the plan.

On Friday night, September 7, 1973, the appellant was seen leaving a bar near the Enola Hotel three hours before the deceased left the hotel. The deceased was observed in the Enola Hotel eating pizza around 12:45 a. m. on Saturday, September 8, 1973; one hour later the deceased was seen for

[ 485 Pa. Page 125]

    the last time entering her automobile outside the hotel. Fifteen minutes later, at approximately 2:00 a. m., the police found the decedent's car abandoned one block from the Enola Hotel. The car was found stopped in the operating lane of the highway, with one of the rear tires almost flat. The keys were in the ignition and the decedent's pocketbook was on the front seat. The police were unable to locate the deceased until Tuesday, September 11, 1973, when her body surfaced in the lake. The body of the deceased was bound in ropes and chains and weighted down by cement blocks. In most of its determinable aspects the murder occurred according to the plan earlier devised by the appellant and Ronald Liddick.

Commonwealth witness Nellie Serch (with whom the appellant had been living during the times in question) testified that appellant returned home at 8:00 a. m. Saturday, September 8, wearing clothing different from that which he was wearing when he left for work the previous day. She observed the appellant dispose of a piece of rope which she later identified as being similar to the rope found on the decedent's body. She also testified that ...


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