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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN MICHAEL GAINOR (07/24/81)

filed: July 24, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOHN MICHAEL GAINOR, APPELLANT



No. 437 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from the Order of R. A. House, Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, filed April 16, 1980 denying Appellant Post Conviction Relief, at No. 1978-0296, Criminal Division.

COUNSEL

Joseph E. Breman, Kittanning, for appellant.

George R. Kepple, District Attorney, Kittanning, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Shertz and Wieand, JJ. Wieand, J., dissents.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 289 Pa. Super. Page 191]

Following his counseled plea of guilty to charges of aggravated assault*fn1 and criminal trespass,*fn2 Appellant was sentenced

[ 289 Pa. Super. Page 192]

    on June 7, 1979, to a term of one to three years at the Diagnostic and Classification Center at Pittsburgh to be followed by five years probation. Thereafter, on November 5, 1979, Appellant filed a P.C.H.A. petition contending, inter alia, that he had been denied effective assistance of plea and sentence counsel. The lower court, after a hearing, entered an order dismissing Appellant's petition, and this appeal followed.

It is well-settled in Pennsylvania that counsel's assistance will not be deemed ineffective if the reviewing court is able to conclude that the particular course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to further the client's interest. Commonwealth v. Williams, 273 Pa. Super. 147, 149, 416 A.2d 1132, 1133 (1979) (citing Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 604-05, 235 A.2d 349, 352-53 (1967)). Based on the following facts, we are compelled to conclude that there was no reasonable basis for plea and sentence counsel's failure to investigate the possibility of an insanity defense, and we must, therefore, reverse.

On December 13, 1978, Appellant, John Michael Gainor, unlawfully entered the home of Father Thomas Rogers, a priest, and beat him severely. Father Rogers suffered serious injuries to the left eye as a result of this attack, which Appellant allegedly committed because he believed that he was being possessed by the priest.

After his arrest, Appellant was kept in the county jail. While there, he exhibited bizarre behavior that included holding a rectangular piece of metal over his mouth and refusing to bathe. As a result, the Sheriff of the Armstrong County Jail petitioned the lower court to commit Appellant.*fn3

A hearing on the petition was held on January 11, 1979. Appellant was represented by his ...


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