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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RICHARD RAWLES (07/01/83)

decided: July 1, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
RICHARD RAWLES, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE, V. RICHARD RAWLES, APPELLANT



No. 80-3-719, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, dated August 18, 1980, entered at No. 1225 December Sessions, 1979, Arresting Judgment on Jury Verdict of First Degree Murder, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Trial Division, Criminal Section, dated March 31, 1981, dated March 31, 1981, entered at Nos. 1225 and 1226 December Sessions, 1979.

COUNSEL

Eric B. Henson, Deputy Dist. Atty., Gaele McLaughlin Barthold, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Leon W. Tucker (Court-appointed), Philadelphia, for appellee.

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

Author: Nix

[ 501 Pa. Page 517]

OPINION

These consolidated appeals arose from an order of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which arrested judgment on a jury verdict of first degree murder and "substituted" a verdict of murder in the third degree. The Commonwealth appeals from the portion of the order arresting judgment, seeking reinstatement of the jury verdict, while Richard Rawles appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed on the "substituted" verdict, contending he is entitled to a new trial. For the reasons which follow we reverse the order of the Court of Common Pleas, vacate its judgment

[ 501 Pa. Page 518]

    of sentence, reinstate the jury verdict of first degree murder, and remand for resentencing on that verdict.

I.

Richard Rawles was arrested shortly after a stabbing incident in North Philadelphia and charged with murder and related weapons offenses. At trial the defense advanced the theory that Rawles had stabbed the decedent, Robert Jackson, in self defense. A demurrer to the charge of first degree murder was denied, and the jury subsequently returned a verdict of guilty of first degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime. Following trial defense counsel filed post-verdict motions alleging, inter alia, that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of first degree murder. The trial court agreed, and ordered judgment arrested on the first degree murder verdict. The Commonwealth appeals from that action.*fn1

Following the disposition of the post verdict motions prepared and argued by trial counsel, new counsel was appointed to argue trial counsel's ineffectiveness. Supplemental motions alleging ineffective assistance were denied, and Rawles was subsequently sentenced to seven and one-half to fifteen years' imprisonment on the substituted conviction and to a concurrent two and one-half to ...


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