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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LAWRENCE THORNTON (07/02/81)

decided: July 2, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
LAWRENCE THORNTON, APPELLANT



Nos. 48 and 97 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Criminal Trial Division, Nos. 1231-1233, April Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Andrew J. Gowa, Frederica Massiah-Jackson, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist., Atty., Richard Myers, Philadelphia, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Kauffman

[ 494 Pa. Page 165]

OPINION

After a non-jury trial, appellant, Lawrence Thornton, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter*fn1 and possession of an instrument of crime.*fn2 Post-trial motions were denied, and appellant was sentenced to a term of four to ten years imprisonment on the voluntary manslaughter conviction and to a concurrent term of two and one-half to five years

[ 494 Pa. Page 166]

    imprisonment for possession of an instrument of crime. An appeal was taken directly to this Court from the judgment of sentence imposed for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and to the Superior Court from the judgment of sentence imposed for possession of an instrument of crime.*fn3 The latter appeal has been certified to this Court.

On the night of April 1, 1978, appellant was in the company of a group of teenagers who were gathered on the 2100 block of Homer Street in Philadelphia. Kevin Riley ("Riley"), the deceased, and another young man approached the group on bicycles, and Riley began teasing appellant about his appearance. In response, appellant made a derogatory remark. Riley then got off his bicycle and approached appellant, who backed away. After a short continuation of the verbal confrontation beyond the hearing of others present at the scene, Riley pushed appellant. Suddenly, appellant withdrew a knife which he had concealed in his trousers and stabbed Riley, who was unarmed, twice in the chest, causing his death. Appellant was arrested and charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime.

I

Appellant first contends that he was precluded from presenting an effective claim of self-defense at trial by the court's refusal to admit testimony concerning Riley's reputation in the community for strength and prowess as a fighter. This claim was not raised in post-trial motions, however, and thus has not been preserved for consideration on appeal. Commonwealth v. Webster, 490 Pa. 322, 416 A.2d 491 (1980); Commonwealth v. Blair, 460 Pa. 31, 331 A.2d 213 (1975); Commonwealth v. ...


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