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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN ANTHONY COCCIOLETTI (02/04/81)

decided: February 4, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
JOHN ANTHONY COCCIOLETTI, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE, V. DONALD ANTHONY GARRITY, APPELLANT



No. 80-1-107, No. 80-1-106, Appeals from the Conviction and Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Criminal Division, Entered on April 28, 1980 at No. 956 July Term, 1979 (80-1-107) and No. 957 July Term, 1979 (80-1-106).

COUNSEL

Leonard L. Martino, Pittsburgh, for appellant in No. 106.

Irving M. Green, New Kensington, for appellant in No. 107.

Patrick H. Mahady, Asst. Dist. Atty., Greensburg, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Roberts, J., concurred in the result. Flaherty, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Larsen

[ 493 Pa. Page 107]

OPINION

Appellants John Coccioletti and Donald Garrity were charged with criminal homicide for the shooting death of one Dale Clawson. Appellants were found guilty of murder of the third degree after a joint trial before a jury. Appellants' post-trial motions were denied, and a sentence of three to ten years imprisonment was entered on the verdict.

This direct appeal involves issues of whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain their convictions for murder of the third degree; whether certain firearms and ammunition were properly admitted; and whether appellants' Sixth Amendment rights were violated at their joint trial.

Appellants initially contend that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction, particularly that the evidence was insufficient to prove accomplice liability. To evaluate the sufficiency of evidence, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner, accept as true all the evidence and reasonable inferences upon which, if believed, the jury could properly have based its verdict, and determine whether such evidence and inferences are sufficient in law to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Stockard, 489 Pa. 209, 413 A.2d 1088 (1980). Entirely circumstantial evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction. Commonwealth v. Prado, 481 Pa. 485, 393 A.2d 8 (1978). The evidence, read in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, is as follows:

Appellants Coccioletti and Garrity were drinking heavily on the night in question. A short time after 1:45 a.m. on March 25, 1979, a friend drove them to Coccioletti's cabin located on County Line Road in a rural area of Westmoreland County. Two passing motorists observed appellants at the right side of the road in front of Coccioletti's cabin shortly before 2:15 a.m.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. the victim, Dale Clawson was driving a pick-up truck on County Line Road. A passenger in the victim's truck testified that he observed two persons,

[ 493 Pa. Page 108]

    neither of whom he could identify, standing on the right side of the road in front of Coccioletti's cabin. A split second after passing them, the passenger heard a gunshot, the victim slumped forward, and the truck veered off the road and crashed. The passenger then observed the fatal wound which had been caused by ...


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