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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES RICKETTS ANDERSON (05/30/80)

decided: May 30, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES RICKETTS ANDERSON, APPELLANT



No. 481 January Term 1979, Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Criminal Trial Division, at No. 161 March Term 1971

COUNSEL

Colie B. Chappelle, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Kenneth Gallant, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Nix, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 490 Pa. Page 227]

OPINION OF THE COURT

James Ricketts Anderson, appellant, was found guilty by a jury of murder of the first degree. Post-verdict motions were denied by the court en banc, and Anderson was sentenced to life imprisonment. We affirmed the judgment of sentence by an equally divided court. Commonwealth v. Anderson, 473 Pa. 13, 373 A.2d 454 (1977).

On September 20, 1978, Anderson filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief under the Post Conviction Hearing Act.*fn1 Counsel was appointed,*fn2 and an amended petition was filed on January 29, 1979. Post-conviction relief was denied on December 3, 1979.*fn3 This appeal followed.

[ 490 Pa. Page 228]

Anderson argues, inter alia, that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to timely object*fn4 to prejudicial comments made by the district attorney in his summation to the jury. Anderson argues further that these comments were not supported by the evidence; that they constituted an appeal to the prejudices, passions, and fears of the jury; and, that they deprived him of a fair trial. We agree and, accordingly, reverse and remand for a new trial.*fn5

Anderson urges the following remarks, made by the district attorney, deprived him of a fair trial:

"And it's even possible that they [Anderson and George Bonds, a co-actor] went there that night, waiting for Middleton [the victim] to come in, waiting to kill him, ...


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