No. 2291 October Term, 1978, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal Division, at No. 77-10-192.
David R. Bahl, Williamsport, for appellant.
William S. Kieser, District Attorney, Williamsport, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Watkins and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 278 Pa. Super. Page 191]
On August 31, 1977, appellant, Ronald Lee Bromund, pleaded quilty to one count of arson. Appellant was sentenced on November 30, 1977, to a term of imprisonment of not less than ten nor more than twenty years and a fine of $5,000.00. Thereafter, appellant filed a motion pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. Rule 321(a), challenging the guilty plea and the
[ 278 Pa. Super. Page 192]
legality of the sentence. The lower court ruled against appellant on these arguments, and appellant now appeals from that ruling.*fn1 We affirm.
In the early morning hours of February 13, 1977, four separate fires occurred within a one mile radius in the downtown section of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, between the hours of 1:20 a. m. and 6:30 a. m. Burned were the Pine Street United Methodist Church, the Trinity Episcopal Church, a three-story apartment building and the American Rescue Workers Thrift Shop. Each of these fires was determined to be of suspicious origin, and, with the exception of the Pine Street Church fire, all were labeled arson by the State Police fire investigator. The investigator was unable to determine the cause of the Pine Street Church fire only because the damage to that building was so extensive as to make such a determination impossible. The fire in the Thrift store was the last to break out and it was in that vicinity where appellant was stopped and arrested for arson. Reportedly, eyewitnesses observed appellant start this last fire by throwing a burning object into a window. It should be noted that appellant was only charged with setting the Thrift store fire and no charges were brought against appellant for any of the other three fires. Appellant was taken to jail and shortly thereafter, approximately at 9:00 a. m. on February 13, 1977, appellant spoke to his attorney, Gregory V. Smith, Chief Public Defender of Lycoming County, for about thirty minutes. Appellant again consulted with Attorney Smith on February 14, 1977 for about forty-five minutes, and it was then decided that appellant would give a
[ 278 Pa. Super. Page 193]
statement to the police, in which appellant admitted his "involvement" in the fire at the Thrift store.*fn2
On July 6, 1977, appellant filed a motion for a change of venue, alleging he could not get a fair trial in Lycoming County because of prejudicial pre-trial publicity. This motion was denied by the lower court. Subsequently, on August 31, 1977, appellant elected to plead guilty to the charge of arson. However, on April 17, 1978, appellant sought to withdraw his plea, arguing that it was involuntary. As previously indicated, the lower court refused ...