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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MATTHEW CONNORS (02/11/83)

filed: February 11, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MATTHEW CONNORS, APPELLANT



No. 82 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Philadelphia County, Nos. 1679-1681 November Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Perry Paul deMarco, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Eric Beller, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wieand, Beck and Hoffman, JJ. Hoffman, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Wieand

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 556]

Matthew Connors was tried by jury and found guilty of murder in the first degree and rape. Post verdict motions were denied, and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and a consecutive term of ten to twenty years for rape. On direct appeal, he contends that the trial court erred when it (1) received in evidence, over objection,

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 557]

    four photographs of the body of the eleven year old victim and (2) when it refused to allow prior testimony of a defense witness to be read to the jury. He also contends that the prosecuting attorney was guilty of misconduct which deprived him of a fair trial. We find no merit in these contentions and, therefore, affirm the judgment of sentence.

The opinion of the learned trial judge includes the following recitation of the manner in which the crime was discovered. "On Monday, August 21, 1978, at 7:30 A.M. Ms. Darlene Snipes was exiting her eighteenth floor apartment at the Fairhill Project on her way to work. In following her usual routine, she peered down the fire escape stairwell to check for intruders before she left her apartment. As she did, she noticed a black male, later identified as the defendant, lying on his back between the seventeenth and eighteenth floors. Ms. Snipes related that the defendant's shirt was bloody in the chest area and he appeared to be sleeping. Alarmed by his presence, Ms. Snipes hurriedly locked her door and proceeded to work where she promptly notified police of the suspicious nature of the defendant's presence.

"Police Officer Francis O'Connor of the 22nd District was dispatched to the Project where he arrived at 8:25 A.M. and was escorted by maintenance men to the stairwell in question. Upon arrival, Officer O'Connor, along with his partner, Officer Morton Spiser, observed the body of a young Negro female lying on the stairwell who appeared to be dead. The officers secured the scene and summoned the Assistant Medical Examiner for the City of Philadelphia, Dr. Halbert Fillinger. Dr. Fillinger arrived at 10:30 A.M. and pronounced the victim, Corinthia Fields, dead. It was later determined that Ms. Fields' death was the result of one hundred ninety-six stab wounds in and around the chest and abdomen. The eleven year old victim had also been raped."

The Commonwealth's evidence established that appellant had taken Corinthia Fields to his apartment on the eighteenth

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 558]

    floor between 3:30 A.M. and 7:30 A.M., where he raped her. Thereafter, he took her to the firetower stairwell and, on the landing between the seventeenth and eighteenth floors, killed her by repeated stabbings with an ice pick.

Later the same day, at or about 11:00 A.M., the janitor found a discarded ice pick in the incinerator of the building. It had human blood on it. It had not been there on the prior day.

Testifying on his own behalf, appellant stated that at the time of the rape and killing he had been in bed with Mrs. Laura Creer at her home, located a half-hour walk from appellant's apartment. She testified, however, that appellant had left her home at 3:00 A.M. She did not see him again until 9:00 A.M. She also identified the ice pick found in ...


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