No. 99 Harrisburg, 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Dalphin County, No. 460 Criminal Division, 1980.
Arthur L. Goldberg, Harrisburg, for appellant.
William A. Behe, Deputy District Attorney, Harrisburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wickersham, Rowley and Watkins, JJ. Wickersham, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 255]
Appellant was convicted, after a jury trial, of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the stabbing death of her husband. Her post-trial motions were denied and on April 1, 1981, she was sentenced to not less than two years nor more than four years imprisonment. This direct appeal followed.
Appellant raises three issues on appeal: 1) Did the court err in refusing to admit the testimony of Barbara Hart as an expert witness on the subject of battered women?;*fn1 2) Did the Court err in refusing two of appellant's requested points for charge?; and 3) Was the evidence insufficient to support the conviction because the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was not acting in self-defense?
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 256]
We find appellant's third argument to have merit and therefore need not discuss the other two issues raised in this appeal.
The record in this case reveals the following. The appellant and Mr. Zenyuh dated for six years and had been married approximately one year when the stabbing occurred. Their relationship was marked by frequent arguments, during which Mr. Zenyuh often beat appellant. After several of these beatings, appellant sought treatment at a hospital emergency room. The hospital records were introduced into evidence. It was also necessary for her to seek medical treatment for injuries to her ear and to her eye, both of which resulted from beatings by her husband. Letters from the doctors treating those injuries were introduced. Appellant testified that her husband had threatened to kill her if she ever left him.
On the date of the stabbing, appellant and her husband began arguing early in the evening. At about 9:00 PM, appellant and her husband went to a lounge in Dauphin County to meet Mr. Zenyuh's brother, Greg, and Greg's girlfriend Nancy. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the Zenyuh's coming wedding anniversary. Both appellant and her husband were drinking that night. Tests showed appellant's blood alcohol level to be .13 and her husband's to be .17. At first the evening was pleasant. However, an argument developed. Appellant asked her husband for the keys to her car so that she could leave. Mr. Zenyuh refused to give her the keys. When they did leave, appellant testified that her husband began to hit and kick her. Pictures taken a few days later while appellant was in jail showed bruises on her legs, arms and neck. The hitting continued in the car. Appellant retaliated by pulling her husband's hair. When they arrived at the house, appellant told her husband she was leaving him and again asked for her keys. Mr. Zenyuh again refused. Appellant entered the house and began looking for her extra set of keys. While she was looking in the kitchen, her husband entered the room. Appellant testified that he was in a rage and she
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 257]
believed that he was at least going to beat her, and possibly would kill her. She picked up a kitchen knife. Mr. Zenyuh came at her and grabbed her arms. A struggle began, during which Mr. Zenyuh was cut or stabbed several times. He then left the house ...