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decided: May 30, 1980.


No. 118 March Term 1979, Appeal from Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Beaver County, at Nos. 597 and 598 of 1978


Bernard J. Rabik, Beaver, for appellant.

John Lee Brown, Asst. Dist. Atty., Beaver, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 489 Pa. Page 624]


Bert Lee Hudson, appellant, was convicted by a jury in Beaver County of murder of the second degree,*fn1 aggravated assault,*fn2 simple assault,*fn3 and burglary.*fn4 Post-verdict motions

[ 489 Pa. Page 625]

    were denied, and Hudson was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder charge and five to ten years on the non-homicide charges. The former sentence was directed to run consecutive to the latter sentence. This appeal followed.

Hudson first contends the evidence at trial was insufficient to establish his guilt of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. More precisely, Hudson complains that the evidence was not sufficient to place him at the scene of the crimes. We disagree.

In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, the test is whether, viewing the entire record in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to enable the trier of fact to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Smith, 484 Pa. 71, 398 A.2d 948 (1979); Commonwealth v. Boyle, 470 Pa. 343, 368 A.2d 661 (1977). Viewed in this light, the record reveals the following:

In 1975, while in prison, Hudson spoke with David Baker, the son-in-law of William Phillips, Sr. Baker told Hudson about the layout of his father-in-law's residence and that there was a safe therein.

In December 1977, after both Baker and Hudson had been released from prison, Hudson asked Baker if he wanted to join Hudson in burglarizing the Phillips' residence. Baker refused.

In August 1978, Hudson contacted one James Hassett. Hudson and Hassett drove past the Phillips' residence in New Galilee, Beaver County, and while doing so, Hudson told Hassett that he was going to burglarize the house. Hassett initially agreed to join Hudson, but subsequently refused. Hassett informed Hudson of this refusal prior to the commission of the crimes here involved.

[ 489 Pa. Page 626]

In the early morning of September 6, 1978, a stranger entered the Phillips' residence through a first floor window.*fn5 William Phillips, Sr., his wife, and his son, William Phillips, Jr., were sleeping. The intruder entered the son's bedroom and placed a hand over the son's mouth and a gun to the young man's head. The intruder then taped the son's mouth and hands, and a struggle ensued. The intruder struck the son repeatedly in the head and shot the son in the abdomen. Thereafter, William Phillips, Sr. rushed into his son's room. He was not armed. The intruder fired at William Phillips Sr. A bullet went through his left palm, entered the right side of his face, and lodged in an area of the brain causing injury resulting in instant death.

When the police arrived at the scene of the crimes, they recovered some black electrical tape from the son's bedroom. This tape was later matched to tape belonging to Hudson which was recovered after his arrest.

The police also recovered two bullets, one from the deceased and one from his son. A state police ballistics expert testified that the bullets were fired from the same weapon, probably a .44 or .45 calibre revolver manufactured by Colt. The ballistics expert indicated that the bullets were more likely .45 calibre because of their weight.

Although neither the deceased's son nor his wife identified Hudson, Hudson made several statements in which he admitted the shootings. James Hassett conversed with Hudson shortly after the shootings. Hudson told Hassett that he had a fight with a "younger guy" in the Phillips residence; that he shot the "younger guy"; and, that he shot another "guy" who came "in the room with a gun." Hassett also testified that Hudson had a revolver in his possession and that the revolver was a large calibre, probably a .44 or .45.

Robert Eugene Johnston testified that he conversed with Hudson at Johnston's home after the shootings. Hudson

[ 489 Pa. Page 627]

    told Johnston that he entered the Phillips residence, went to "young Phillips'" bedroom, put his hand over the son's mouth, and put "the gun in his face." Hudson told Johnston that he woke the son and said "[a]ll I want is food and money." Johnston then testified that Hudson recounted the ensuing struggle and the two shootings. Johnston also testified that Hudson was armed with a Colt .45 ...

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