No. 232 March Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Clearfield County at No. 397 May Term, 1972
Richard H. Milgrub, Public Defender, Clearfield, for appellant.
Thomas F. Morgan, Dist. Atty., Laurance B. Seaman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Clearfield, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Eagen, C. J., concurs in the result. Nix, J., files a Dissenting Opinion in which Larsen, J., joins.
Appellant, Logan Warren McLaughlin, was tried by a judge sitting with a jury in connection with the homicide of
his wife, Mary Diane McLaughlin.*fn1 The jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder of the second degree. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of ten to twenty years at a state correctional institution. This direct appeal followed.
The facts are as follows. Appellant and his wife were having marital difficulties. These difficulties prompted Mrs. McLaughlin to return to Clearfield, Pennsylvania, from their home in Trenton, New Jersey. Appellant, wanting to reconcile their differences, rented a car in Trenton and drove to Clearfield, where he confronted his wife and her paramour. There was a heated argument, and appellant unloaded a .22 caliber pistol he had with him and placed it on the back seat of his car. The discussion did not resolve the dispute, and the parties separated.
Mrs. McLaughlin's sister lived in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, and appellant decided to go there, as his wife would probably be there and they could continue to discuss their problems. As appellant was driving toward Houtzdale, he noticed his wife's car on the opposite side of the highway, headed toward Clearfield. He crossed the median strip and stopped his wife's car. After some discussion between appellant and his wife and some shouting by the victim's mother, who was in the victim's car, appellant drove away.
As appellant began driving away, his wife signaled him to stop and return. During this encounter, appellant's mother-in-law got out of the car and was approaching appellant's car. Appellant had previously acquired a 30.06 rifle, together with eighteen shells, from a friend for the avowed purpose of going to a shooting contest. As his mother-in-law approached, appellant pointed the rifle out of the passenger window and admonished her to stop. After a brief ...