No. 242 Special Transfer Docket, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Common Pleas Court of Luzerne County, Criminal Division, Entered the 27th day of February, 1978 in Criminal Action No. 2753 of 1975.
Anthony B. Panaway, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.
Michael I. Butera, Assistant District Attorney, Pittston, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wieand, Nix and Wekselman, JJ.*fn*
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James Haddle appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed after a jury had found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter. He raises several issues which we will discuss seriatim.
On December 23, 1975, at or about 6:10 o'clock, P.M., a telephone call was received by Dallas Township Police in which the caller, who identified himself as James Haddle, requested that a police car be sent to his house because "I just kicked the hell out of my wife's lover and I want him out of the house." When police answered the call and went to appellant's home, they discovered the lifeless body of Daniel Hodge on the living room floor. Appellant was advised of his rights under Miranda*fn1 but insisted upon giving police his version of the events leading to Hodge's death. He said that he and Hodge had been drinking beer in the kitchen and that an argument had started about appellant's wife and her association with Hodge. Appellant said that he had risen from his chair and said, "You always wanted me, here I am, go ahead." When Hodge also rose, appellant said, "Go for my throat." According to appellant's statement to the police, the decedent never reached appellant's throat. Appellant threw the decedent to the floor and proceeded to stomp his head, saying, "You'll never screw another woman again."
At trial, evidence disclosed that the decedent and appellant's wife had been having an affair. Earlier during the evening of the killing, the three of them had been together at a bar where their relationship was discussed. After appellant and his wife left and returned to their home, Hodge followed. Appellant's version at trial was that Hodge had attacked him during the course of their argument in the kitchen and that he had killed in self-defense.
Appellant's contention that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence must fail. The evidence pertaining
[ 271 Pa. Super. Page 422]
to self-defense was conflicting. The credibility of the witnesses, therefore, was for the jury. In such instances, the trial court's denial of a motion for new trial on the grounds that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence will not be disturbed so long as the jury's findings are supported by the evidence. Commonwealth v. Thomas, 254 Pa. Super. 326, 385 A.2d 1362 (1978); Commonwealth v. Hayes, 205 Pa. Super. 338, 209 A.2d 38 (1965).
During the course of deliberating on its verdict, the jury requested "to have the voluntary manslaughter charge read and further explained." The trial court complied with this request and explained at length and in detail the law pertaining to voluntary manslaughter. Appellant then asked the court to charge also on "lawful justification". The trial judge declined this request because the claim of justification by self-defense had been covered thoroughly in the original charge and because the jury had not requested a review of that portion of the charge. Appellant contends that this was error.
The scope of supplemental instructions given in response to a jury's request rests within the sound discretion of the trial judge. He may properly confine supplemental instructions to the particular question asked by the jury despite a defendant's request for additional instructions. Commonwealth v. Perkins, 473 Pa. ...