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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JESSE JONES (05/27/83)

decided: May 27, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
JESSE JONES, JR., APPELLANT



No. 80-3-646, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section of Philadelphia County, Imposed on Information Nos. 2342-2345 and 2347, May Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

James S. Bruno, Philadelphia (Court-appointed), for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Michael Turner, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellee.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.

Author: Zappala

[ 501 Pa. Page 164]

OPINION

On November 11, 1977, after a trial by jury, Jesse Jones was found guilty of first degree murder, robbery, burglary, criminal conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of crime. Under the statute then in effect, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 1311, Act of 1974, March 26, P.L. 213, No. 46, § 3, as amended, Act of 1974, Dec. 30, P.L. 1052, No. 345, § 1 (rewritten, Act of 1978, Sept. 13, P.L. 756, No. 141, § 1; Act of 1980, Oct. 5, P.L. 693, No. 142, § 401(a); 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9711) sentence of life imprisonment was imposed, because the jury found both aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Jones was given lesser concurrent sentences for the other convictions. Notice of Appeal to this Court was filed on July 7, 1980. Under former 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 722(1), Act of 1976, July 9, P.L. 586, No. 142, § 2, as amended, Act of 1978, April 28, P.L. 202, No. 53, § 10(4) (rewritten, Act of 1980, Sept. 23, P.L. 686, No. 137, § 1, effective in 60 days), this Court has jurisdiction of an appeal from a finding of guilt of a felonious homicide, where the appeal was filed before November 22, 1980.

[ 501 Pa. Page 165]

The Commonwealth's evidence established that the victim, Rosetta Scott, was alive on April 30, 1977 when a friend called her. On May 3, a woman, accompanied by the Appellant, tried to withdraw money from Scott's savings account, but was refused for lack of verifiable identification. The following day at another branch, a man and woman succeeded in withdrawing $1,500.00 from Scott's account. On May 6, Scott's body was found in the bedroom of her home, shot nine times in the head. Police detectives found her car about one block away. Examination of the car turned up several items of clothing.

On May 10, an anonymous caller told the police that Scott's killer lived in the 3000 block of Colona Street. The following day another anonymous caller stated that the Appellant Jesse Jones had been driving Scott's car and that he lived at 3015 Colona Street. On May 12, Delores Jones, wife of the Appellant, was questioned by police, and positively identified several items of clothing found in the trunk of Scott's car as belonging to her husband. She also testified that she had seen him with a gun wrapped in a plastic bag on May 11. Based on the foregoing and other evidence, the police obtained an arrest warrant for Jesse Jones, who was taken into custody on May 12, 1977. While in custody, Jones gave a statement to police which was later used at his trial.

Our examination of the transcripts of the trial leaves no doubt that the evidence, exhaustively reviewed in the able Opinion of the Honorable John A. Geisz dated January 16, 1981, was sufficient to support the verdict. The Appellant raises five points of error, each of which was addressed by the lower court and correctly decided.

Appellant's first contention, that his right to a fair trial and due process of law were denied by the court's allowing the Commonwealth to strike for cause all prospective jurors conscientiously opposed to the death penalty, has been addressed and rejected by this Court ...


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