No. 1249 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Criminal Division, No. 325 Criminal, 1977.
Joseph Paul Valentino, Sharon, for appellant.
David B. Douds, Assistant District Attorney, Mercer, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Price, Hester and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 266]
Following a jury trial, appellant was convicted of theft by receiving stolen property.*fn1 After denial of post-trial motions, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two to five years. He appeals to this court contending that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury and in admitting certain evidence, and that the sentence was an abuse of judicial discretion and excessive. Finding no merit in any of these contentions, we affirm the judgment of sentence.
In weighing the sufficiency of the evidence, we must view the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 267]
therefrom, in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and determine whether it is sufficient to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Smith, 484 Pa. 71, 398 A.2d 948 (1979); Commonwealth v. Hoskins, 485 Pa. 542, 403 A.2d 521 (1979). The Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt through the use of wholly circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Harper, 485 Pa. 572, 403 A.2d 536 (1979); Commonwealth v. Dawson, 464 Pa. 254, 346 A.2d 545 (1975).
Viewed in this fashion, the evidence upon which appellant's conviction was predicated consisted of the following facts. The charge of receiving stolen property arose out of the theft of a 1977 Ford Ranger pickup truck from Robbins Ford and Mercury, a dealership in Mercer, Pennsylvania, sometime between December 18 and 28, 1976. The stolen truck was discovered in Farrell, Pennsylvania at the residence of appellant's father on March 7, 1977, by Captain Timko of the Farrell Police Department. Upon first seeing the truck, Captain Timko realized it fit the description of a vehicle that had been reported stolen, and he recorded the license plate number and vehicle identification number located on the door. When he discovered upon a subsequent check of these numbers that the vehicle had been stolen from Robbins Ford and Mercury, he had it towed away.
Appellant and his father appeared later at the Farrell Police Department and gave Captain Timko an Ohio certificate of title to the truck and the ignition key. During questioning by Captain Timko, appellant explained that he had acquired the truck from a stranger who had come to his workplace and asked if he was interested in buying a truck. Appellant stated that he believed the man's name was Paul Glasco and that he operated a car dealership in Youngstown, Ohio. Appellant agreed to meet this man at the L & K Restaurant in Niles, Ohio, and he there concluded a deal to purchase the truck for $6,000 cash by tendering the money to Glasco and receiving title. Glasco was not produced as a witness at trial.
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 268]
Following the introduction of the certificate of title into evidence, Trooper Richard L. Thompson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol testified concerning defects contained in that certificate. First, he remarked that the date title issued, which is filled in by the clerk of court at the time that the title is issued, was blank. Second, while the title indicated that Mayberry Ford Truck Sales, Springfield, Ohio was the previous owner, it did not contain the previous owner's title number or the initials "MSO" to indicate that it was purchased new from a dealership. Trooper Thompson explained that "MSO" stands for "manufacturer's statement of origin," which is proof of the dealer's ownership of the vehicle. This statement was absent from appellant's title. Other testimony showed that the title number on appellant's certificate was actually registered to a Mercury Cougar owned by Floyd Dugan Ford, Inc., and not Mayberry Ford. ...