Nos. 219 and 220 Special Transfer Docket, APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE TO THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, CRIMINAL TRIAL DIVISION, AT MARCH TERM, 1971, Nos. 47 and 48.
William J. Mazzola, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Melvin R. Shuster, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, Manderino and Cirillo, JJ.*fn*
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In July of 1976, appellant Robert Lee Jefferson was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree and conspiracy.*fn1 Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for life and a concurrent term of one to two years, respectively. This direct appeal followed. We affirm the judgment of sentence.
Appellant first argues that the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In determining the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a criminal conviction, we must consider the evidence, direct and circumstantial, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Thomas, 465 Pa. 442, 350 A.2d 847 (1976). Viewed thusly, the evidence introduced at trial discloses the following.
On or about December 21, 1970, appellant became involved in an altercation with the decedent, Willie Frieson, at the Cinderella Bar in Philadelphia. Frieson struck appellant, causing him to bleed. Thereafter, appellant threatened the life of Frieson.
Several weeks later, on the evening of January 14, 1971, both Frieson and appellant were again present in the same bar. Appellant was in the company of Ronald Merryweather. Appellant asked Merryweather to get him something, whereupon Merryweather left the bar and returned five or ten minutes later. Appellant asked Merryweather, "Did you get what I asked?" In response, Merryweather handed a gun to appellant. Later that evening, Merryweather was seen in the possession of another gun.
At about 2:00 a. m., Frieson left the bar in the company of James Johnson. Shortly thereafter, appellant and Merryweather left the bar and encountered Frieson and Johnson. Frieson complied with Merryweather's request to "come
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here." Merryweather waved a gun in Frieson's face. Johnson then left the scene and went home, while appellant, Merryweather, and Frieson walked off in a different direction, around a corner and out of sight. Soon thereafter, three shots were heard by people in the vicinity. Later that morning, Frieson's body was found in the backyard of a nearby home. He had been shot twice in the head and once in the neck by one .32 caliber and two .22 caliber bullets.
Appellant specifically argues that the Commonwealth failed to meet its burden of proving the existence of unlawful agreement or confederation between appellant and others, and also that appellant participated in a direct manner in the actual homicide charge. We do not agree. The evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support a verdict of guilty of ...