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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHNNIE LEE RUTH (01/21/83)

filed: January 21, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOHNNIE LEE RUTH, APPELLANT



No. 181 Harrisburg, 1981, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Dauphin County, No. 154 CD 1980

COUNSEL

William A. Fetterhoff, Assistant Public Defender, Harrisburg, for appellant.

William A. Behe, Deputy District Attorney, Harrisburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wieand, Cirillo and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 460]

Johnnie Lee Ruth was tried by jury and was found guilty of murder in the third degree in connection with the bedroom slaying of his wife. On direct appeal from the judgment of sentence, he contends (1) that the Commonwealth's evidence was insufficient to prove his sanity at the time of the killing and (2) that the trial court erred in allowing the prosecution to make a pre-trial examination of edited, defense, psychiatric reports. We find no merit in these contentions and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of sentence.

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence the test is whether, accepting as true all the evidence and all reasonable

[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 461]

    inferences therefrom, upon which the jury could properly have based its verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted. Commonwealth v. Lovette, 498 Pa. 665, 669, 450 A.2d 975, 977 (1982); Commonwealth v. Goldblum, 498 Pa. 455, 466, 447 A.2d 234, 240 (1982); Commonwealth v. Horner, 497 Pa. 565, 568, 442 A.2d 682, 683 (1982); Commonwealth v. Zenyuh, 307 Pa. Super. 253, 259-260, 453 A.2d 338, 341 (1982); Commonwealth v. Fortune, 305 Pa. Super. 441, 447, 451 A.2d 729, 732 (1982). Moreover, the evidence must be read in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth as verdict winner, which is entitled to all reasonable inferences arising from such evidence. Commonwealth v. Smith, 484 Pa. 71, 73-74, 398 A.2d 948, 949 (1979); Commonwealth v. Stasiak, 305 Pa. Super. 257, 263, 451 A.2d 520, 523 (1982); Commonwealth v. Alston, 269 Pa. Super. 573, 576, 410 A.2d 849, 851 (1979).

The body of the decedent was found by police, who were responding to a disturbance call, on a bed in the presence of appellant. Her body contained 42 stab and chop wounds apparently caused by one or more sharp instruments. Also found at the scene and containing blood stains were a butcher knife, a hatchet, and a sharpened screw driver. Neighbors testified that they had heard the decedent crying for help at a time when she and appellant were alone in their apartment. There was also evidence showing a history of physical abuse inflicted by appellant upon his wife.

Appellant, an epileptic, pleaded insanity. Specifically, the defense contended that appellant had suffered a psychomotor seizure at the time of the assault upon his wife. Defense witnesses testified to prior seizures, and psychiatric and psychological opinions attributed legal insanity to appellant at the time of the killing. The Commonwealth countered with testimony from lay witnesses who said that appellant seemed normal and coherent immediately following the killing. There was also evidence that appellant had not suffered epileptic seizures during the several months

[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 462]

    preceding his wife's death. Finally, there was testimony that appellant had threatened his wife earlier on the ...


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