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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM HOSKINS (07/05/79)

decided: July 5, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
WILLIAM HOSKINS, APPELLANT



Nos. 176 and 237 January Term 1977, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, at Nos. 2753 to 2755 November Sessions 1975.

COUNSEL

Joel Harvey Slomsky, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div. Asst. Dist. Atty., Stephen S. Seeling, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Roberts, J., joins in this opinion and filed a concurring opinion. Larsen, J., concurs in the result. Nix, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion.

Author: Eagen

[ 485 Pa. Page 545]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On May 11, 1976, appellant, William Hoskins, was convicted by a jury in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia of murder of the first degree, possessing instruments of a crime-generally,*fn1 possessing prohibited offensive weapons,*fn2 and criminal conspiracy. The convictions stem from the November 5, 1975 fatal shooting of Herschell Williams. Post-verdict motions were denied, and judgment of sentence of life imprisonment was imposed on the murder conviction. Judgments of sentence of not less than two and one-half to five years imprisonment and not less than five to ten years imprisonment were imposed on the weapons convictions and the criminal conspiracy conviction. The trial court directed these judgments of sentence to run concurrently with the judgment of sentence of life imprisonment. Hoskins appealed to this Court from the judgment of sentence imposed on the murder conviction. An appeal from the judgments of sentence on the remaining convictions was filed in the Superior Court and later certified to this Court.

Initially, Hoskins claims the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to support the convictions in this case. In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, the test is whether, viewing the evidence 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. Smith, 484 Pa. 71, 398 A.2d 948 (1979); Commonwealth v. Santiago, 476 Pa. 340, 382 A.2d 1200 (1978); Commonwealth v. Perkins, 473 Pa. 116, 373 A.2d 1076 (1977); Commonwealth v. Robinson, 468 Pa. 575, 364 A.2d 665 (1976). The Commonwealth

[ 485 Pa. Page 546]

    may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Dawson, 464 Pa. 254, 346 A.2d 545 (1975); Commonwealth v. Alston, 461 Pa. 664, 337 A.2d 597 (1975). Moreover, in applying the above test, the entire trial record must be evaluated and all evidence actually received must be considered, whether or not the trial court's rulings thereon were correct. Commonwealth v. Boyd, 463 Pa. 343, 344 A.2d 864 (1975); Commonwealth v. Tabb, 417 Pa. 13, 207 A.2d 884 (1965). Finally, the trier of fact, while passing upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be afforded the evidence produced, is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence. Commonwealth v. Murray, 460 Pa. 605, 334 A.2d 255 (1975).

Viewed in this light, the record reveals the following:

At approximately 10:15 a. m. on November 5, 1975, Hoskins, who was driving a 1975 Cadillac automobile, arrived at the home of Lonnie Dawson. Dawson exited his home and entered the automobile. The automobile, which was green in color, was owned by Hoskins' friend and employer, Calvin Tilghman. Tilghman lent the automobile to Hoskins on the previous day and did not recover possession of the automobile until after Hoskins was arrested for the crimes involved instantly.*fn3

At approximately 12:15 p. m., a green Cadillac, occupied by three males, was parked at the intersection of Roumfort Road and Bayard Street in Philadelphia. This intersection borders the 8600 block of Bayard Street. The automobile was positioned diagonally across Roumfort Road in a manner

[ 485 Pa. Page 547]

    that prevented the normal flow of traffic on that road. Hoskins was the driver of this automobile.

Sometime between 12:20 p. m. and 12:30 p. m., a 1975 green Cadillac was parked and was partially blocking a driveway which runs behind and parallel to the 8600 block of Bayard Street. A male occupied the driver's seat of the automobile. Hoskins, who was wearing a brown suit, a matching brown wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, was standing on the corner of Bayard Street and Roumfort Road. Another male, wearing a print shirt and brown "jeff" cap, was seated on the steps leading to 8605 Bayard Street. A few minutes later, Hoskins joined the male sitting on the steps and asked Frederick Robb, who was exiting his home located at 8603 Bayard Street, for the correct time. Robb, who testified at trial, informed Hoskins that he "didn't know" the time and left the vicinity of Bayard Street and Roumfort Road in an automobile driven by a friend, Daniel Parks.*fn4

Subsequently, a male wearing a "brown habit," i. e. brown pants, brown jacket, brown shoes and brown hat, and sunglasses, was sitting on the steps leading to a house located on Bayard Street near Ivyhill Road. This person was holding a bucket and a handkerchief or rag which he ultimately waved in the direction of Ivyhill Road. As the male in the "brown habit" waved the handkerchief or rag, the victim, Herschell Williams, accompanied by his two children, exited his home which was located on Bayard Street near Ivyhill Road.

[ 485 Pa. Page 548]

The male in the "brown habit" walked up Bayard Street toward Ivyhill Road. Another male, wearing a brown "jeff" cap, turned the corner of Ivyhill Road and walked down Bayard Street toward Roumfort Road. Both males*fn5 fired numerous gunshots at Williams. After fatally wounding*fn6 Williams, both males ran down Bayard Street toward Roumfort Road.

At approximately 1:07 p. m., the Philadelphia police spotted a 1975 dark green Cadillac in an eastbound lane of the Schuylkill Expressway just west of Montgomery Drive. As a result of information received at the scene of the fatal shooting, the police stopped the automobile in the vicinity of

[ 485 Pa. Page 549]

    the Spring Garden Street exit of the expressway.*fn7 The occupants of the automobile, Hoskins, Lonnie Dawson, and Joseph Rhone, were placed under arrest. When arrested, Hoskins, who was seated in the front passenger seat, was wearing a brown suit, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. The male occupying the rear seat wore a "jeff" cap.

The 1975 Cadillac was searched pursuant to a search warrant. The police recovered two loaded revolvers which were hidden under the dashboard approximately three to four inches to the left of the glove compartment. The police also searched the immediate vicinity of Bayard Street and Roumfort Road. Eventually, they recovered two weapons from a sewer located on the southeast corner of Roumfort Road and Cheltenham Avenue. One of the weapons was a .32-20 revolver and the other was a .357 magnum revolver. Both contained six fired cartridges.

Subsequently, a firearms examiner, employed by the Philadelphia Police Ballistics Laboratory, conducted an examination of the physical evidence involved in this case. The results of this examination showed that the projectiles removed from the victim's body were fired by the .32-20 revolver recovered from the sewer; that the spent cartridges found in the .357 magnum revolver recovered from the ...


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