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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. O'NEAL WEATHERS EL (05/01/79)

decided: May 1, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
O'NEAL WEATHERS EL, APPELLANT



No. 197 March Term 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. 0185 January Term 1975, under PCHA.

COUNSEL

William L. Steiner, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 485 Pa. Page 30]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On June 3, 1974, appellant, O'Neal Weathers El, was convicted by a jury in Allegheny County of murder of the first degree for the fatal shooting of Kelvin Parker. Post trial motions were denied, and a sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. A direct appeal was filed in this Court, and we affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Weathers El, 467 Pa. 13, 354 A.2d 250 (1976). At all times up to and including his direct appeal, Weathers El was represented by members of the public defender's office. On November 12, 1976, represented by new counsel, Weathers El commenced an action under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, Act of January 25, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1580, §§ 1 et seq., 19 P.S. §§ 1180-1 et seq. (Supp.1978-79) [Hereinafter: PCHA, 19 P.S. § /--]. After a counseled hearing, the PCHA court denied relief, and Weathers El now appeals from that order.

Weathers El complains he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel. PCHA, 19 P.S. § 1180-3(c)(6). His claim is based on the following:

At trial, the Commonwealth charged the shooting occurred during an attempt to rob the victim, Kelvin Parker, of drugs. In defense, Weathers El testified, in part, that he was addicted to heroin at the time of the crime. A subsequent question by defense counsel as to the effect of his being without an injection was objected to by the Commonwealth.

[ 485 Pa. Page 31]

When the court asked the purpose of the question, defense counsel replied:

" I am not trying to show inability to form an intent. I am trying to show his physical state at ...


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