No. 80-3-394, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, entered January 14, 1980, at Nos. 452 and 734 December Session, 1978.
Thomas Bruno, II (Court-appointed), Philadelphia, for appellant.
Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Frances G. Gerson, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.
This is an appeal from judgments of sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia on verdicts of guilty of voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. Because the record fails to establish appellant's entitlement to relief, we affirm.
The charges against appellant, which included murder of the third degree, stemmed from the stabbing death of George Castlebury on November 9, 1978. The Commonwealth's evidence established that on that evening appellant's girlfriend, Joyce Jamison, left the apartment which she shared with appellant and went to a local bar following an argument with appellant. Outside of the bar, Castlebury approached Jamison and began to speak with her. Appellant, who had apparently followed Jamison from their apartment, approached Jamison and told Jamison to come with him. Jamison continued to talk with Castlebury. Appellant entered the bar, obtained a knife from a patron, and hid the knife inside his shirt sleeve. Appellant then went outside and asked Castlebury what he and Jamison had been discussing. Castlebury pulled out a knife and told appellant, "I'm not going to let you hurt me." Appellant replied, "I'm not going to let you hurt me either," pulled out his knife, and began a fight with Castlebury. During the altercation, appellant stabbed the victim in the chest. Two officers who had witnessed the stabbing from across the street immediately apprehended appellant. The victim died as a result of the stab wound later that evening.
At trial, appellant maintained that he had been threatened with a knife by Castlebury at the moment that appellant first approached Jamison, and that it was Castlebury who had initiated the fight as soon as appellant had left the bar. After two days of testimony, the court acquitted appellant of the murder charge but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. Following trial, new counsel was appointed to represent appellant. After an evidentiary hearing on appellant's claims of ineffective assistance, appellant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of four to ten years for voluntary manslaughter and to a consecutive term of two to five years on the charge of possession.
Appellant contends that the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was not an act of self-defense. This contention, however, is predicated not upon the testimony of the Commonwealth's witnesses, whose version of the killing was accepted by the factfinder, but upon appellant's own testimony, which the factfinder rejected. "It is a basic tenent of our system of jurisprudence that issues of credibility are properly left to the trier of fact for resolution." Commonwealth v. Whack, 482 Pa. 137, 140, 393 A.2d 417, 419 (1978). "The factfinder is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence." Commonwealth v. Rose, 463 Pa. 264, 268, 344 A.2d 824, 826 (1975). As appellant has presented no basis for disturbing the factfinder's resolution of the credibility of the witnesses who testified at trial, appellant's contention cannot prevail.*fn1
Appellant's second contention, that a statement which he had given to police was improperly admitted at trial, is based upon appellant's suppression hearing testimony that he had been drinking the entire day of the incident and that he ...