No. 213 Special Transfer Docket, No. 214 Special Transfer Docket, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Criminal Division, No. T-5339, 1976
James P. Gannon, Media, for appellant.
Michael F. X. Coll, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wieand, Nix and Wekselman, JJ.*fn*
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 463]
This is an appeal from judgments of sentence entered upon jury verdicts finding appellant guilty of first degree murder, criminal conspiracy and possession of a prohibited offensive weapon. The facts are as follows:
The victim, Frank Sawyer, was killed in a house in Media, occupied by Thomas Bruton, a co-defendant, on the night of August 12, 1976. Sawyer's wife Sara Sawyer, another co-defendant, had taken out an $8,000 insurance policy upon the life of her husband 3 months before the killing, providing for double payment in the case of accident or violent death. Two months before the killing she left her husband and moved in with Susan Huber, Bruton's girlfriend. From the date of this separation, Mrs. Sawyer and appellant were lovers.
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 464]
The victim often badgered Mrs. Sawyer and she explained her difficulties to Bruton and indicated to Bruton that she would be better off if her husband wasn't around. Bruton indicated to her that he could have her husband killed professionally for $5,000 and that he would put up the money in advance to be repaid from the insurance proceeds. The insurance policy expired on August 12, the day of the killing. Appellant gave Mrs. Sawyer the money to pay the last premium on the policy.
Bruton told appellant of Mrs. Sawyer's troubles and desire to be rid of her husband. He also told appellant that arrangements had been made to kill the victim. Appellant often asked Bruton when the killing would occur, and sometime in July, appellant told Bruton that if the victim wasn't killed soon he would do it himself. On one occasion appellant asked Bruton for a gun so he could kill the victim immediately.
One day in late July or early August of 1976, the victim was working underneath his car when it slid off its jack and landed on the victim. At the time appellant was supposedly working on the side of the vehicle. The victim sought medical attention at a hospital, where he remained until August 11. On August 11, Mrs. Sawyer visited him and learned that he would be discharged on the 11th or 12th.
Appellant called the hospital on the 11th to learn whether the victim had been discharged. On the 12th Mrs. Sawyer told appellant that the victim would be at Bruton's house that night. On the night of the 12th, the victim went to the house in Media. Appellant was already present, and the two of them went down into the basement where they watched Bruton work on fishing equipment. As the victim was watching Bruton, appellant struck the victim's head twice with a hatchet. Appellant then tried to strangle the victim with some thin electrical cord. When this cord broke, he used some heavier cord. Bruton moved the victim's car from in front ...