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decided: September 22, 1980.


No. 4 May Term 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Franklin County, at No. 143 of 1976


E. Franklin Martin, Asst. Public Defender, Denis M. DiLoreto, Chambersburg, for appellant.

William C. Cramer, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 491 Pa. Page 304]


Following a non-jury trial, appellant, Alan L. Scarborough, was found guilty of murder of the third degree. Post-verdict motions were denied, and Scarborough was sentenced to six to eighteen years of imprisonment. This appeal followed.

In his first assignment of error, Scarborough contends that the Commonwealth's evidence was insufficient, as a

[ 491 Pa. Page 305]

    matter of law, to prove his sanity beyond a reasonable doubt*fn1 and that the guilty verdict was based on conjecture and surmise. In making those claims, Scarborough relies on the fact that the Commonwealth's psychiatric expert arrived at his opinion that he (Scarborough) knew the nature and quality of his act and knew it was wrong without the benefit of any personal examination while the defense experts had extensive personal contact with him and both reached an opposite conclusion.

At trial, Scarborough placed the question of his sanity in issue through the testimony of a psychiatrist and a psychologist, each of whom had personal contact with Scarborough after his arrest for the murder as well as contact with persons related to or acquainted with him.*fn2 Both witnesses testified that Scarborough was a schizophrenic and that, in their opinion, at the time of the shooting, Scarborough had been unable to correctly perceive the significance or nature of his act or its result and had not had the capacity to understand the rightness or wrongness of his act.

In cases where, as here, there is sufficient evidence present to raise the issue of insanity, the burden of proof is upon the Commonwealth to establish the appellant's sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Hubbard, 485 Pa. 353, 402 A.2d 999 (1979); Commonwealth v. Hicks, supra; Commonwealth v. Rose, 457 Pa. 380, 321 A.2d 880 (1974); Commonwealth v. Demmitt, 456 Pa. 475, 321 A.2d

[ 491 Pa. Page 306627]

(1974). In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the test is "[w]hether, accepting as true all the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which if believed the jury could properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted." Commonwealth v. Vogel, 468 Pa. 438, 446-447, 364 A.2d 274, 278 (1976), quoting Commonwealth v. Bayard, 453 Pa. 506, 509, 309 A.2d 579, 581 (1973). In its case-in-chief, the Commonwealth produced several lay witnesses who testified concerning Scarborough's statements and actions both prior to and after the shooting. This testimony established the following:

During the day prior to the shooting and again immediately before he went to the victim's home, Scarborough told Cindy Hampton, his common-law wife, that "Doug [the victim] has to die." Upon returning from the victim's home, he told her that "It's done"; that he thought Doug was dead; that he had asked Doug to commit suicide; that she should not ask whether he did commit suicide; and, that he thought he had thrown the gun away. Shortly after this conversation, Scarborough called the police and told the dispatcher that he thought Doug Straley was dead; that there had been a shooting; that he was partially involved; and, that an ambulance should be sent. Scarborough also gave the dispatcher detailed directions to Straley's home as well as his own address. After making the call, Scarborough told Cindy Hampton that "he would either have to stay and face the music or would have to go." When the local police arrived at Scarborough's home and read Scarborough his constitutional rights, he twice stated he did not know if he understood them. However, when the state police later arrived, read him his rights and asked if he understood, Scarborough nodded affirmatively. Shortly thereafter, Scarborough was handcuffed, and a frisk revealed spent and live .45 caliber cartridges in his pockets. Scarborough was then driven to the Straley home and gave directions throughout the drive. The state police questioned Scarborough

[ 491 Pa. Page 307]

    between the time they read him his rights at his home and their arrival at Straley's apartment. Scarborough refused to respond to some questions and mumbled or went off on a tangent about politics in response to others. However, he did state that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol; that Doug Straley had his .45 caliber pistol; that he (Scarborough) had not fired the gun in a week; that he and Straley had shot the handgun in the past, but not recently; and, that he and Straley had a confrontation several hours earlier over political views. At the Straley home, Doug Straley was found dead in an upstairs bedroom. Cause of death was later determined to be a single wound to the head from a single projectile. After discovery of the body, Scarborough was again read his rights. He stated that he understood them and that he would not answer any more questions until he got an attorney. Questioning ceased, but Scarborough later blurted out that "[t]here are things that you do that you know are wrong, but you still have to do them anyway," and, that he had tried to get Straley to commit suicide, but he would not. Prior to making these statements, Scarborough had nodded affirmatively when the ambulance driver asked him, while they were alone, if he had killed Straley and then put his finger to his lips when a state police officer approached. On the way to the District Justice for arraignment, Scarborough told the state police officers the shortest route to take and, upon arriving, engaged in a normal conversation with the District Justice. While imprisoned on the day following the shooting, Scarborough phoned the victim's home and asked for him. During the conversation with Straley's landlady which followed, Scarborough admitted that he had tried to get Straley to commit suicide, but he had refused and that the gun had gone off in the ensuing struggle. During rebuttal, the Commonwealth called Dr. John M. Hume, a psychiatrist, who testified that, in his opinion, Scarborough did know the difference between right and wrong and knew the nature and quality of the act involved at the time of the shooting. This opinion was given in response to a lengthy hypothetical question and was based on the information contained in the

[ 491 Pa. Page 308]

    hypothetical question, Dr. Hume's interviews with ten people connected with Scarborough, his review of the statements of 17 people given to the police in connection with the case,*fn3 his analysis of the results of tests given to Scarborough at ...

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