Nos. 1331 and 1332 April Term, 1978, Appeals from the Judgments of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Nos. 1014-1976 and 891-1976, Criminal Division.
Winifred H. Jones-Wenger, Philipsburg, for appellant.
Thomas G. Peoples, Jr., District Attorney, Hollidaysburg, submitted a brief on behalf of the Commonwealth, appellee.
Price, Hester and Montgomery, JJ.
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These two appeals, which we have combined for purposes of expediency, arise out of a series of criminal episodes occurring within Blair County. Appeal No. 1331 stems from the robbery of Jack's Quik Mart in Antis Township, Pennsylvania, and the killing of the store's clerk. Following a jury trial commenced on December 1, 1976, appellant was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery.*fn1 Appeal No. 1332 arises from the robbery of the Ricche Music Store in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and the assault on the store's clerk. Following a jury trial commenced on April 5, 1977, appellant was convicted of burglary,*fn2 robbery, and a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act.*fn3 Post-trial motions in both cases were denied, and appellant was sentenced. A motion to modify the sentences was subsequently denied, and appellant filed the instant appeals in which she raises numerous contentions. Because we find that the trial court erred in its charge to the jury in both cases, we are constrained to reverse the judgments of sentence and remand both cases to the court of common pleas for new trials.
The pertinent facts are as follows. On March 4, 1976, appellant and her co-defendant, Jeffrey Joseph Daugherty, entered the Ricche Music Store in Altoona. The store was attended at that time by only one person, Ms. Ruth Montgomery, a woman of advanced years. The two conspirators initially perused several items in the store, particularly a guitar. Co-defendant Daugherty then forced Ms. Montgomery, at gun point, to the back of the establishment and
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 482]
there beat her into a state of semiconsciousness and relieved her of jewelry and money. A subsequent inventory of the store disclosed that a guitar was also missing. On March 9, 1976, a similar incident occurred at Jack's Quik Mart in Antis Township. There, money again was gained at gunpoint, but, however, the sole clerk, Mrs. Shank, was shot repeatedly and killed.
The miscreants were initially arrested in the state of Virginia, where they were charged and convicted of various offenses stemming from the robbery of a country store. At the time of the arrest, police discovered a .25 caliber handgun within a console located between the front seats of the car. Ballistics tests later identified this gun as that from which the shots were fired which had killed the clerk at Jack's Quik Mart. Subsequent searches of the automobile uncovered a guitar, identified as that stolen from the Ricche Music Store, and the pocketbook of the clerk at Jack's Quik Mart. Appellant and her co-defendant were returned to Pennsylvania on September 27, 1976, to stand trial for various offenses arising from four separate criminal episodes in Blair County.
Appellant contends, inter alia, that the trial court in both the Ricche Music Store case and the Jack's Quik Mart case erred in charging the jury that her testimony, if she was found to be an accomplice, came from a corrupt source and should be carefully scrutinized. We agree.
In the Ricche Music Store case, appellant testified that although she had entered the store with co-defendant Daugherty, she returned to their parked car before Ms. Montgomery was accosted, and had no knowledge of the events that took place in the store following her departure. Co-defendant Daugherty gave inculpatory testimony, but added that appellant had left the premises before the robbery and that she was unaware of any criminal activity of which he had partaken. Similarly, in the Jack's Quik Mart case, co-defendant Daugherty testified ...