No. 70 May Term 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County at No. 729 C.D. 1978
Peter B. Foster, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Marion E. MacIntyre, First Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Eagen, C. J., and Roberts, J., concurred in the result.
Appellant, Kevin Meredith, was found guilty of murder of the first degree for the death of his 2 1/2 year old stepdaughter, Kimberly, who had been left in his care by the child's mother, when she left for work on the day in question. This direct appeal follows the dismissal of post-verdict motions and the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment.
On or about 12:25 p. m., Monday, April 17, 1978, a telephone call was placed to the emergency room of the Harrisburg Hospital by a man identifying himself as Kevin Meredith. The caller informed the emergency room personnel that his daughter had just fallen from her tricycle, that she was unconscious and that he was bringing her to the hospital. Approximately ten minutes later, at 12:34 p. m., appellant
appeared at the emergency room with his 2 1/2 year old stepdaughter, Kimberly. The child was devoid of any vital signs and efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. She was pronounced dead at 12:43 p. m.
An autopsy conducted at 3:00 p. m. that same afternoon revealed that Kimberly had died as the result of a massive depressed fracture of the right side of her skull accompanied by subdural hemorrhage and contusion of the brain. A laceration and contusion was visible on the left side of her forehead. Her vagina and anus were dilated, and the anus lacerated, evidencing penetration of some object there-into. There were numerous contusions on her back and a large ecchymotic area extending from the upper inner aspect of her right thigh to her buttocks. Internal abdominal examination disclosed hemorrhages into both lungs and the adrenal glands and lacerations of the liver and spleen.
Among his challenges to the conviction, appellant questions the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict. We are satisfied that the record supports the jury verdict.
In this jurisdiction we have held that where an adult is given sole custody of a child of tender years for a period of time, and, during that time the child sustains injuries which may have been caused by a criminal agency, the finder of fact may examine any explanation offered and, if they find that explanation to be wanting, they may reject it and find the person having custody of the child responsible for the wounds. Commonwealth v. Paquette, 451 Pa. 250, 301 A.2d 837 (1973). Reviewing the evidence in this case in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, Commonwealth v. Bastone, 466 Pa. 548, 353 A.2d 827 (1976); Commonwealth v. Robson, 461 Pa. 615, 337 A.2d 573 (1975), the jury was clearly ...