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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BARBARA WATSON (07/08/81)

decided: July 8, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
BARBARA WATSON, APPELLANT



No. 199 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia Criminal Division April Session 1978 Nos. 1228 and 1230

COUNSEL

David Kanner, Philadelphia County, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Eliot Present, Philadelphia County, for appellee.

Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Flaherty, J., joined. O'Brien, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Larsen

[ 494 Pa. Page 469]

OPINION

On August 7, 1978, appellant Barbara Watson was found guilty, in a non-jury trial, of voluntary manslaughter and possession of a concealed weapon with intent to employ it criminally, both arising out of the shooting death of her common law husband, Matt Lee Black. Post-trial motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial were denied, and on

[ 494 Pa. Page 470]

May 4, 1979 appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three to twenty-three months for each conviction, the sentences to be served concurrently.*fn1 This direct appeal followed.

In this appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting each of her convictions. "In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, we must view that evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, here the Commonwealth; all reasonable inferences which may be drawn from the evidence must be drawn favorably to the verdict winner as well." Commonwealth v. Burns, 490 Pa. 352, 354, 416 A.2d 506, 507 (1980).

The record in this case reveals the following facts. Appellant and Mr. Black lived together for ten years, beginning in 1968, during which time they had three children. Their relationship was marked by arguments, frequently over nothing, during which appellant's husband often hit her. On the night of the shooting, appellant, her husband and two of their friends spent some time at the home of one friend's daughter. After the four had left the daughter's home, appellant and the decedent began arguing.*fn2 At the time, appellant and her husband were walking together about thirty to forty feet ahead of their friends. Appellant, in her statement to the police, described the events that followed:

I was calm and all right up until we left and when we got outside I was walking up the street and he went to jump on my back and I pulled the gun out of my pocketbook and I shot. I was scared of him. That's all.

One of the friends accompanying appellant and her husband, Kelly Quarles, testified as a witness for the Commonwealth that Mr. Black hit appellant, knocked her down and jumped on top of ...


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