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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DANIEL C. SULLIVAN (09/07/79)

filed: September 7, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DANIEL C. SULLIVAN, APPELLANT



No. 82 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County at No. CC-97-77.

COUNSEL

Thomas B. Schmidt, III, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Samuel E. Teeter, Assistant District Attorney, Gettysburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Van der Voort, Watkins and Lipez, JJ. Van der Voort, J., dissents.

Author: Lipez

[ 269 Pa. Super. Page 280]

Appellant was convicted of two counts of terroristic threats.*fn1 We conclude that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the convictions.

Reviewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, Commonwealth v. Ilgenfritz, 466 Pa. 345, 353 A.2d 387 (1976) the facts may be summarized as follows: With regard to the first count, on November 18, 1976, appellant telephoned a State Police Barracks, informed the trooper who answered that his father had earlier that day been assaulted by one Bernard V. Miller, Sheriff of Adams County, and demanded that a state police officer be sent at once to his home. A trooper was thereupon dispatched to investigate. Before he arrived at appellant's home, appellant telephoned the barracks again and, referring to Sheriff Miller, said, "If you don't want to send anybody down here, I have a .30-30 rifle and I'll come up there and blow that son of a bitch's head off." The first trooper testified on direct examination that appellant had been "very angry and not rational" during the first telephone call, and agreed, on cross-examination that appellant had been "upset" and "angrier on the second occasion than on the first . . . ." This testimony was not only uncontradicted, but also appellant admitted that he had made the second call because he was angry and upset at the fact that the state trooper had not yet arrived. The state police then told the Sheriff that appellant had made a telephone threat on his life.

[ 269 Pa. Super. Page 281]

The incident on which the second count was based occurred the following morning, when appellant and Sheriff Miller encountered each other on a Gettysburg street, a meeting which neither had anticipated. A loud shouting match ensued, in the course of which appellant again threatened to kill the Sheriff.*fn2

Section 2706 provides, in relevant part:

A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another . . . .

18 Pa.C.S. ยง 2706. Appellant did indeed threaten to commit a crime of violence, but the evidence does not show that appellant possessed the requisite "intent to terrorize" the sheriff.

The instant case does not involve the sort of conduct that the Legislature intended, by means of section 2706, to deter and punish. The Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission's Comment on this section states, in part, that "[t]he purpose . . . is to impose criminal liability on persons who make threats which seriously impair personal security or public convenience. It is not intended by this section to penalize mere spur-of-the-moment threats which result from anger." The official Comment on section ...


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