No. 215 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Snyder County, Criminal Division, at No. 117-1975
Harold F. Woelfel, Jr., Selinsgrove, for appellant.
Thomas C. Clark, District Attorney, Middleburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.
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The Appellant, Galen Conrad, was convicted after a jury trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter*fn1 and engaging
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in a speed contest.*fn2 Following the denial of post-trial motions, and sentencing, the Appellant filed the instant direct appeal raising several allegations of error. After a thorough review, we have concluded that there is merit in the Appellant's claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, and we will reverse that conviction.
The test for sufficiency of evidence is whether accepting as true all of the evidence and all reasonable inferences deductible therefrom, upon which the jury could have based its verdict, the evidence and inferences are sufficient in law to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Ilgenfritz, 466 Pa. 345, 353 A.2d 387 (1976). In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, we accept all of the evidence favorable to the Commonwealth as true, and resolve all disputed facts in favor of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Ingenfritz, supra.
The record, read in that light, shows that on May 3, 1975, the Appellant was driving a brown Plymouth automobile on U. S. Route 104, in a southerly direction from Middleburg, in Snyder County, towards Shade Mountain. One Roger Lee Heintzelman, while driving a red Pontiac, approached from the rear and began "tailgating" the Appellant's automobile. The Appellant increased his speed and Heintzelman also increased his speed, over some distance, but Heintzelman eventually overtook and passed the Appellant, and pulled away from the Appellant, increasing the distance between them. Approximately one-half mile after the Appellant's car was passed by Heintzelman, the Appellant turned his vehicle around and returned in a northerly direction on Route 104 toward Middleburg. After proceeding some distance in the southerly direction after he had passed the Appellant, Heintzelman apparently also decided to turn around and head back in a northerly direction towards
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Middleburg. He did so at a high rate of speed. When Heintzelman eventually caught up with the Appellant's vehicle, close to Middleburg, Heintzelman again attempted to pass on the two lane highway. When he veered into the left lane, Heintzelman saw another vehicle in that lane heading in a southerly direction. He pulled back into the right lane, behind the Appellant's car, but was unable to brake his vehicle sufficiently to avoid a collision with the rear end of the Appellant's car. The Appellant's car spun out of control as a result, and collided with the vehicle approaching from the southerly direction on the other side of the road. Appellant's young daughter was a passenger in his car at the time of the collision and tragically lost her life as a result of the accident.
It is the theory of the Commonwealth that the Appellant was engaging in a speed contest, in violation of the Motor Vehicle Code, at the time of the collision, and was criminally responsible for the ...