No. 528 Pittsburgh, 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, Criminal Division, at Nos. 413 & 425 of 1978.
Alphonse P. Lepore, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Uniontown, for appellant.
Gerald R. Solomon, District Attorney, Uniontown, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Hester, McEwen and Johnson, JJ.
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 526]
This appeal is undertaken from the judgment of sentence imposed after appellant was convicted by a jury and sentenced to serve a term of from four to ten years for arson and a concurrent term of from two to five years for involuntary manslaughter. We reverse and remand for a new trial.
Appellant was charged with arson,*fn1 causing or risking catastrophe,*fn2 criminal trespass,*fn3 failure to prevent catastrophe,*fn4 recklessly endangering another person*fn5 and criminal homicide,*fn6 as a result of a fire in an apartment which had caused the death of a woman. Appellant during the presentation of his defense provided for character testimony. The Commonwealth during the cross-examination of one character witness posed the inquiry:
From your knowledge of this speech in the community did you hear that the defendant had been charged with Burglary and Larceny?
A second character witness was asked:
From your knowledge of the speech in the community which you referred to, did you hear that the appellant had been charged with Burglary and Larceny?
The prosecutor engaged in such cross-examination on the basis of his belief that appellant had been arrested and charged with those offenses. It subsequently appeared that the belief of the district attorney was based upon erroneous information and that, in fact, appellant did not have any record of arrest or conviction. As a result, the
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 527]
trial judge included the following instruction in his ...