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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HENRY SPELLER (03/11/83)

filed: March 11, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
HENRY SPELLER, APPELLANT



No. 299 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Philadelphia County, No. 1658 March Term, 1980.

COUNSEL

Barry H. Denker, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Jane Cutler Greenspan, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wieand, Beck and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 572]

Henry Speller was tried in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia and convicted of making terroristic threats, a misdemeanor,*fn1 and harassment, a summary offense.*fn2 He appealed to the Court of Common Pleas where, following a trial de novo, he was again found guilty of the same offenses. A sentence of imprisonment for not less than 3 months nor more than 23 months, to be followed by a consecutive three year period of probation, was imposed for terroristic threats; a one day suspended sentence was imposed for harassment. Speller has appealed. He contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction for terroristic threats, that he was improperly tried for harassment, that prejudicial error occurred in evidentiary rulings made by the trial court and that trial counsel was ineffective.

In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, we employ a two step test. First, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, accepting as true all evidence upon which the finder of fact could properly have based its verdict. Next, we must determine whether that evidence, together with all reasonable inferences drawn from it, was sufficient to enable the trier of the facts to find every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Lovette, 498 Pa. 665, 669, 450 A.2d 975, 977 (1982); Commonwealth v. Goldblum, 498 Pa. 455, 467,

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 573447]

A.2d 234, 240 (1982); Commonwealth v. Waller, 498 Pa. 33, 44, 444 A.2d 653, 658 (1982); Commonwealth v. Horner, 497 Pa. 565, 568, 442 A.2d 682, 683 (1982); Commonwealth v. Hardwick, 299 Pa. Super. 362, 363, 445 A.2d 796, 796 (1982).

The crime of terroristic threats is defined in 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2706 as follows:

A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.

A violation of the statute is proved by evidence that (1) a threat to commit a crime of violence was made and (2) such threat was communicated with intent to terrorize. Commonwealth v. Ferrer, 283 Pa. Super. 21, 23, 423 A.2d 423, 424 (1980); Commonwealth v. Ashford, 268 Pa. Super. 225, 229, 407 A.2d 1328, 1329 (1979); Commonwealth v. Holguin, 254 Pa. Super. 295, 305, 385 A.2d 1346, 1351 (1978). "The offense does not require that the accused intend to carry out the threat; it does require an intent to terrorize. The harm sought to be prevented is the psychological distress which follows from an invasion of another's sense of personal security." Commonwealth v. Hardwick, supra 299 Pa. Super. at 365, 445 A.2d at 797. See: Model Penal Code § 211.3, revised comments (1980). See also: Commonwealth v. Green, 287 Pa. Super. 220, 429 A.2d 1180 (1981); Commonwealth v. Bunting, 284 Pa. Super. 444, 426 A.2d 130 (1981); Commonwealth v. Ashford, supra; Commonwealth v. Holguin, supra.

On the evening of October 19, 1979, appellant and several friends were gathered in front of the neighborhood store operated by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Alan Stephen on North Sixteenth Street in the City of Philadelphia. The Stephens were then preparing dinner in their ...


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