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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DAVID RANSOME (07/06/79)

decided: July 6, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DAVID RANSOME, APPELLANT



No. 143, 787 January Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Trial Division, Criminal Section, at February Sessions, 1976, Nos. 21-25.

COUNSEL

Paul F. Lantieri, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. O'Brien, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Roberts and Manderino, JJ., each filed dissenting opinions.

Author: Nix

[ 485 Pa. Page 492]

OPINION

On January 5, 1976, Steven Johnson was stabbed and killed in what was apparently a gang related altercation in North Philadelphia. Appellant, David Ransome, was arrested on January 6, 1976, and charged with murder, aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, and criminal conspiracy. He was tried before a judge, sitting without a jury, and was convicted of murder in the third degree, aggravated assault, and criminal conspiracy. He was found not guilty of possession of an instrument of crime. Post-verdict motions were denied, and sentence of seven and one-half to twenty years imprisonment was imposed for the murder conviction, with concurrent sentences of three to six

[ 485 Pa. Page 493]

    years and five to ten years imprisonment being imposed for the aggravated assault conviction and the conspiracy conviction. Appropriate appeals were then taken to this Court from the murder judgment, and to the Superior Court from the non-homicide judgments. The Superior Court transferred the latter appeals to us. This consolidated appeal followed, with appellant now being represented by counsel other than trial counsel.

Appellant contends: (1) that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain the trial court's finding of guilt of murder in the third degree; and (2) that appellant was denied the right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial when his trial counsel failed to file a pretrial motion to suppress certain identification testimony.

Our task, when called upon to review the sufficiency of the evidence, is to determine whether all the elements of the crime charged have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the factfinder is free to believe all of, part of, or none of the evidence, we view all the evidence, and all inferences properly deducible from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the prosecution as verdict winner. Commonwealth v. Horton, 485 Pa. 115, 401 A.2d 320 (1979); Commonwealth v. Toney, 474 Pa. 243, 378 A.2d 310 (1977); Commonwealth v. Rose, 463 Pa. 264, 344 A.2d 824 (1975). The facts surrounding the crimes for which appellant was convicted, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, established that the decedent and two others were walking down a street in North Philadelphia when they were attacked by appellant and eleven other assailants. Several of the attackers were armed with knives. The decedent died of a stab wound received in the assault. The evidence also showed that appellant was one of the organizers of the attack as well as a participant in the actual assault.

The crux of appellant's argument is that the prosecution's evidence failed to show that the scope of the conspiratorial agreement -- of which ...


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