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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN EVANS (12/21/79)

decided: December 21, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOHN EVANS, APPELLANT



Nos. 356 and 431 January Term, 1977, Appeals from Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, criminal Trial Division, of Philadelphia, at Nos. 1506, 1510, 1516 and 1517 January Term, 1976

COUNSEL

Eugene H. Clarke, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Paul Diamond, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Manderino and Flaherty, JJ. Nix and Larsen, JJ., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 488 Pa. Page 40]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, John Evans, was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia of murder of the first degree, two counts of robbery and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to death for murder and received concurrent prison sentences of ten to twenty years for each count of robbery and one to two years for conspiracy. He appeals the judgment of sentence for murder to this court and has appealed the judgments of sentence on the other counts to the Superior Court, which certified these appeals to this court.

According to the Commonwealth's evidence, appellant, Leroy Smith, Marcus Hand and William Rainey were involved in an incident at Cavanaugh's Bar at 58th and Christian Streets in Philadelphia on December 16, 1975. Appellant entered the bar at approximately 7:30 p. m., walked by the bar to the men's room, stopped at a cigarette machine, and exited. He returned about twenty minutes later with his co-conspirators. Leroy Smith removed a pistol from an attache case, pointed it at the bartender and told him to "freeze." He told Corporal William Daniels, an

[ 488 Pa. Page 41]

    off-duty police officer and patron of the bar, to put his hands on the bar. Appellant put a pistol to Daniels' head and said "This is it." A gun was taken from the bartender and various items were taken from patrons, including a wallet taken from one Jesse Witherspoon. Daniels attempted to flee but appellant shot him in the back and another assailant shot him twice in the head. Daniels died of his wounds.

The assailants fled after the shooting, leaving Smith's attache case. The police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. Patrons described the assailants and said that appellant wore a rabbit fur coat and that another assailant wore a brown military jacket and a white knit skull cap. The police looked in the attache case and found a sheet of paper on which was written "Terez 474-3136." The number was found to be listed under the name of Mabel H. Dunning at 5901 Carpenter Street. Police arrived at that address at 10:00 p. m. and, finding no one home, inquired of neighbors as to where they could find Dunning. They were directed to 5910 Carpenter Street, where they found her grandson, Jeffrey Partlow. He told them that Dunning was not at home, that he had a sister named Terez Land, who lived on the second floor at 5901, and that at 5:00 p. m. he had seen five men there. He gave descriptions matching two of those given by bar patrons. Dunning then arrived and said that she owned 5901, that she rented the second floor to Terez, and that Terez had several men staying with her, one of whom was wearing a "bunny rabbit coat." Dunning admitted the police to 5901. They went to a hallway on the second floor and saw a ceiling door to a crawlspace, near which they observed scuff marks on the walls and bits of plaster that had fallen to the floor. Dunning said that the plaster had not been there that morning. The police opened the crawlspace door and found appellant, Smith, Hand, and Rainey, all of whom they arrested.

It appeared that various items had been secreted in the crawlspace. Police informed another officer by telephone of what they had found ...


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