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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LOUIS SINWELL (03/11/83)

filed: March 11, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LOUIS SINWELL, APPELLANT



No. 2645 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, No. 914-1980.

COUNSEL

James Richard Moyles, Stroudsburg, for appellant.

Donald B. Corriere, District Attorney, Easton, submitted a brief on behalf of Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Rowley and Cirillo, JJ.

Author: Rowley

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 422]

Appellant and three other men were arrested on March 23, 1980 and charged with theft of movable property, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy. The trial of appellant and co-defendant Chester Gold was severed from that of co-defendants Daniel Stahler and Edward Harka. Following a jury trial, appellant was found guilty of all charges. Motions for a New Trial and in Arrest of Judgment were filed and denied. On October 1, 1981, appellant was sentenced to not less than eight months nor more than twenty-four months imprisonment, and was made available for immediate work release. Appellant then filed a Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence which was summarily denied on October 13, 1981. This appeal followed.

Appellant raises five issues on appeal: 1) Did the court err in admitting into evidence certain photographs depicting the scene of the crime?; 2) Did the court err in refusing to grant appellant's Motion for a Mistrial?; 3) Did the court err in refusing to grant appellant's Demurrer?; 4) Did the court err in refusing to grant appellant's Motion for a Directed Verdict?; and 5) Did the court abuse its discretion by imposing a sentence upon appellant which was grossly

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 423]

    disparate to that imposed upon co-defendants Stahler and Gold?

The facts of the case are as follows. On the night of March 23, 1980, Officer Richard Kitlar of the Bethlehem Township Police observed appellant and his three co-defendants trying to push something into a Ford Falcon automobile. The vehicle was parked near an embankment at a closed entrance to a Bethlehem Steel quarry. Upon arriving at the vehicle, Officer Kitler discovered that it was filled with a "tremendous amount" of copper wire. Beginning at the vehicle, there was a continuous trail of footprints, disturbed terrain, drag marks and strands of wire which led through the quarry to a stone crusher building where conduit pipe had been cut and copper wire had been stripped. This trial was followed on the night in question and again the next morning, at which time it was photographed. At the crusher, a hacksaw, new hacksaw blades and blade wrappers were found. The copper wire found in the vehicle was positively identified as having come from the freshly cut conduit pipes at the crusher.

At trial, the Commonwealth introduced into evidence photographs depicting footprints and drag marks from the site where the car was parked to the stone crusher. Appellant argues that the admission of these photographs was improper for two reasons: 1) a proper foundation was not laid for introduction of the photographs; and 2) the footprints in the photographs were in no way linked to appellant. The admission of photographs in a criminal case is in the sound discretion of the trial court and will not afford grounds for reversal absent a flagrant abuse of discretion. Commonwealth v. Reese, 237 Pa. Super. 326, 352 A.2d 143 (1975). We find no such abuse of discretion in this case.

A review of the record indicates that a proper foundation was laid for admission of the photographs. Three Commonwealth witnesses testified that the photographs were a fair and accurate depiction of the scene on the night in ...


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