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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SANFORD EMMORY EDWARDS (03/13/81)

March 13, 1981

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SANFORD EMMORY EDWARDS, A/K/A SANFORD HENRY EDWARDS, APPELLANT



No. 81-1-18, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Indiana County, at No. 88 Crim. 1979

COUNSEL

Donald R. Marsh, Thomas G. Johnson, (Court-appointed) Indiana, for appellant.

Gregory A. Olson, Dist. Atty., Indiana, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Nix, J., files a Concurring Opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 493 Pa. Page 285]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Sanford Emmory Edwards, also known as Sanford Henry Edwards, appeals a judgment of sentence of life imprisonment for murder of the first degree imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County.

Appellant was charged in connection with the death of Edith Morford, who lived in a trailer park in White Township, Indiana County. On February 22, 1979, decedent's daughter, Cora Ondo, discovered her mother's dead body, in the trailer. The body had a knife embedded in the chest. A pathologist determined that the stab wound of the chest was the cause of death and that there were other injuries indicating violence, including abdominal stab wounds, a crushed larynx, distention of the rectum, and multiple abrasions and contusions. State troopers who arrived at the scene found empty cans of Stroh's beer, head and pubic hairs that a forensic chemist found to be consistent with those of appellant, and a shirt that two co-workers identified as belonging to appellant. One of them said he was wearing it the previous day.

[ 493 Pa. Page 286]

Commonwealth witnesses placed appellant and decedent at a tavern called the Red Onion on February 21, 1979. Arthur Stumbaugh, who knew them both, testified that he arrived at the tavern between 5:00 and 5:30 p. m. that day and that they were both there. Appellant drove Stumbaugh home at approximately 7:30 p. m., and asked him if he knew decedent. Stumbaugh said he knew her as "Edie." Appellant asked Stumbaugh if he thought she would go out with him and Stumbaugh said he did not know. Appellant said he would go back and try to talk to her.

Antonio Arroyo, a bartender at the Red Onion, confirmed that appellant drove Stumbaugh home, returned ten to fifteen minutes later, began talking to decedent, and then bought her a drink. Arroyo heard fragments of their conversation, during which they talked about where their cars were parked. Arroyo sold appellant a six-pack of Stroh's beer and shortly afterward, he noticed appellant and decedent were gone. He did not see them leave and could not say whether they left together.

Margaret Batistelli, a neighbor of decedent, testified she went out that night at approximately 8:30. She saw decedent arrive at her trailer by car with another car following. Batistelli returned between 11:30 and 11:45 and noticed there were no lights on at decedent's trailer and there was a car being jump-started by another car. She went into her own trailer and heard noises shortly afterwards. She looked out and saw a different car being pushed.

John Georgianni testified that at about the time referred to by Batistelli, he was called by his brother-in-law, who was visiting at the trailer park and whose friend's car would not start. He further testified that he drove over and jump-started the car. While he was there, he observed decedent's trailer and saw that there were no lights turned on. He heard screams coming from the trailer and then heard the opening of the door and the footsteps of someone leaving on the opposite side of the trailer from where he ...


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