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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN LANDI (07/25/80)

filed: July 25, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
JOHN LANDI, APPELLANT



No. 1731 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Montgomery County, at Nos. 4557-78, 4530-78, 4578-78, 4558-78, 4610-78, 4577-78, 4559-78, 605-79 and 4576-78.

COUNSEL

Arthur J. King, Assistant Public Defender, Norristown, for appellant.

Ronald T. Williamson, Assistant District Attorney, Norristown, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Price, Cavanaugh and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Cavanaugh

[ 280 Pa. Super. Page 137]

On March 16, 1979 appellant, John Frank Landi, pleaded guilty to seven charges of armed robbery, one charge of attempted robbery and seven charges of conspiracy. Three other defendants, who were involved in the crimes in various stages and capacities, also entered pleas of guilty. On July 13, 1979, appellant and co-defendant, Frank Davis, were sentenced to serve no less than five nor more than ten years in prison on the robbery informations and concurrent five-year terms of probation on the conspiracy and attempted robbery charges to commence upon their release on parole on the robbery sentences. The other two defendants received lesser sentences. Appellant filed a motion to reconsider the sentence which was dismissed on August 6, 1979.*fn1

In this appeal, appellant contends that his sentence was unduly harsh and excessive because (1) imprisonment of a paraplegic constitutes cruel and unusual punishment; (2) two co-defendants received lesser sentences; and (3) the district attorney allegedly failed to abide by a pre-plea agreement to recommend a non-jail sentence.

As a result of an automobile accident on November 17, 1971, appellant is paralyzed from the waist down. Although he is confined to a wheelchair, appellant is able to feed, clothe and bathe himself, and can get in and out of an

[ 280 Pa. Super. Page 138]

    automobile without assistance. Despite his disability appellant participated in the robberies of eight business establishments over a period of three days. The record reveals that appellant took an active role in planning the robberies and supplied co-defendant Frank Davis with a .22 pistol. Davis fired the pistol during three robberies but no one was injured. Appellant remained in the automobile during each incident and acted as a lookout.

Appellant concedes that the trial court made no procedural errors in imposing sentence. Nonetheless, he argues that a sentence of imprisonment for a paraplegic constitutes cruel and usual punishment. We disagree.

Imposition of a proper sentence under the Sentencing Code, 18 Pa.C.S. § 1301 et seq., is a matter vested in the sound discretion of the trial court, whose determination will not be disturbed on appeal but for a manifest abuse of discretion. Commonwealth v. Knight, 479 Pa. 209, 387 A.2d 1297 (1978); Commonwealth v. Martin, 466 Pa. 118, 351 A.2d 650 (1976). The trial court must consider the character and background of the defendant as well a the particular circumstances of the crime in light of the legislative guidelines. The sentence imposed must reflect the minimum sentence consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant. 18 Pa.C.S. § 1321(b); Commonwealth v. Knight, supra; Commonwealth v. Wicks, 265 Pa. Super. 305, 401 A.2d 1223 (1979).

We perceive no abuse of discretion in the instant case. In imposing sentence, the trial court considered the appropriate factors in accordance with the Sentencing Code. See: Commonwealth v. Riggins, 474 Pa. 115, 377 A.2d 140 (1977). The trial court took due consideration of appellant's physical limitations, but determined that incarceration was necessary in light of the seriousness and number of the offenses, the possession and use of a weapon, the major role ...


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