Gordon J. Scopinich, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Franklin E. Noel, Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, Manderino and Cirillo, JJ.*fn* Manderino, J., concurs in the result. This decision was reached prior to the death of Manderino, J.
[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 96]
This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, by the defendant-appellant, Eglantina Monteil, after conviction, non-jury, of murder in the third degree and involuntary manslaughter. Post-trial motions were denied and she was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than five (5) nor more than fifteen (15) years on the murder charge and to a term of not less than two (2) and one-half (1/2) years nor more than five (5) years on the involuntary manslaughter charge.
The defendant was charged with the brutal beating death of the four year old daughter of her paramour. The testimony of the medical examiner described 43 separate groups of injuries from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. The injuries took place over a period of time. Three separate sets of injuries, inflicted on different days were each lethal. The testimony in the case came primarily from
[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 97]
the defendant; her paramour, Roberto Gonzales; the paramour's ten year old son, Martin Gonzales; and the defendant's ten year old son, (Jone Martes). The witnesses all stated that the defendant and her paramour had charge and custody of the deceased child and although tending to downplay the injuries inflicted testified to the infliction of injuries upon the child.
The contention that the court erred in refusing to grant her motion for arrest of judgment attacks the sufficiency of the evidence.
The child had died from multiple injuries to the head, trunk and extremities as a result of being beaten and flogged over a several week period. The witnesses all testified that the defendant kicked the child and hit the child with a belt. The Commonwealth can prove that the defendant caused the fatal injuries by circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Courts, 468 Pa. 613, 364 A.2d 684 (1976). Inferences drawn from the testimony could lead the trier of fact to conclude that the defendant caused the fatal injuries.
The defendant and her paramour were the only adults in the household where the child resided. The medical examiner testified that death could have occurred from injuries occurring close to the time of death or from an accumulation of injuries over the several week period. Roberto Gonzales, the paramour, did not strike the child nor was he with the child, close to the time of death. The trier of fact may infer that the adult with sole custody of the child inflicted the fatal wounds, that the wounds were not self-inflicted or caused by accident. Commonwealth v. Lettrich, 346 Pa. 497, 31 A.2d 155 (1943); Commonwealth v. Paquette, 451 Pa. 250, 301 A.2d 837 (1973).
We need not reiterate the long established test for the sufficiency of the evidence. Commonwealth v. Paquette, supra. There was sufficient evidence presented by the medical examiner that the child died of injuries sustained ...