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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LAWRENCE DEMETRIUS SIMONS (02/15/80)

filed: February 15, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LAWRENCE DEMETRIUS SIMONS, APPELLANT



No. 294 Special Transfer Docket, No. 295 Special Transfer Docket, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Nos. 989 & 990 February Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Richard A. McDaniel, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge and Roberts and Lipez, JJ.*fn*

Author: Cercone

[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 566]

On May 26, 1976, a jury convicted appellant of murder of the second degree and robbery. After trial counsel filed post-verdict motions, appellant obtained new counsel, who filed supplemental post-verdict motions. After denying post-verdict motions, the trial court sentenced appellant to life imprisonment for murder and to a concurrent term of 5 to 10 years for robbery. Appellant contends that (1) the prosecutor's opening and closing statements were prejudicial; (2) the Commonwealth failed to disclose to the jury that a witness, a co-defendant, was testifying for the prosecution in return for a lenient sentence upon a plea of guilty to the charges against him; (3) the trial court erred in failing to provide cautionary instructions concerning impeachment by means of prior convictions; and (4) trial counsel was ineffective. In the interests of judicial consistency with the case of a co-defendant, Commonwealth v. Wayne Thorpe, No. 287 January Term, 1979, we reverse and remand this case for a joint evidentiary hearing with Commonwealth Page 567} v. Thorpe, on the issue of whether the Commonwealth disclosed all information to the jury concerning a plea bargaining agreement with a co-defendant, Ravenell.

In order to avoid further litigation or confusion should the case be re-appealed to our court after the evidentiary hearing on the above-mentioned issue, we will dispose of the remaining issues here. Appellant solicited Grant Ravenell, Wayne Thorpe and Angelo Casselle to rob the victim, Zollie Perry, for whom appellant had worked at one time. One of the men shot Perry during the robbery. Ravenell was also wounded. Ravenell pleaded guilty to murder of the third degree and lesser charges and testified for the Commonwealth at appellant's trial.

During his opening statement, the prosecutor argued:

". . . Mr. Perry . . . had a wife and child and he was a business man in your community in West Philadelphia.

[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 568]

    his own bootstraps, built this building, this business, and that he also carried a gun. Because in the area in which this business was in West Philadelphia, it is not the safest area in the city for merchants.

This man stood by and allowed this to occur because of one thing, the greed and lust for money . . .

Commonwealth must make these agreements with co-defendants, to allow the prosecution of the main mover, the designer, the architect of this ...


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