NO. 1482 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Berks County, No. 79027201
Jeffrey Schmehl, Assistant Public Defender, Reading, for appellant.
George C. Yatron, District Attorney, Reading, for Com., appellee.
Johnson, Watkins and Lipez, JJ.
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Appellant Charles Edward Williams was convicted by a jury of rape, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121, indecent assault, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3126, simple assault, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701, and recklessly endangering another person, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2705. The charges arose from an incident in which, according to the Commonwealth's evidence, appellant grabbed a fourteen-year-old girl who had been walking along a city street with a friend. He forced the girl at knifepoint into an abandoned house, where he raped her, then ran away. Based on a description given to police by the victim and her companion, appellant was arrested in a nearby bar after police had spotted him running away from the area where the rape had occurred and had seen him run into the bar. He was put into a police car and brought to the victim and her
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 462]
friend, both of whom identified him as the attacker.*fn1 Appellant was then taken to police headquarters, where his clothes and other personal belongings were taken by police before he was put into a cell. A search warrant was secured for seizure of body samples from appellant, and these samples were taken at about 10:30 that night. Analysis of the clothing and body samples indicated that appellant could have committed the rape.
Appellant makes eight arguments for reversal of his conviction. The first four of these, which we shall address together, are general claims that the verdict is contrary to the law, the evidence, and the weight of the evidence and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict.*fn2 We find them to be without merit.
In considering challenges to the weight and sufficiency of the evidence, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict winner -- in this case, the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Cropper, 463 Pa. 529, 345 A.2d 645 (1975). The test to be employed in resolving these challenges is whether, accepting as true all the evidence, direct and circumstantial, which could properly have been the basis for the jury's verdict, a finder of fact could reasonably have found that all the elements of the crimes had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Cheatham, 429 Pa. 198, 239 A.2d 293 (1968); Commonwealth v. Richbourg, 260 Pa. Super.Ct. 438, 394 A.2d 1007 (1978). Here, the Commonwealth's evidence showed that the victim had been raped by a black man wearing dark pants, a dark jacket, a scarf and a print shirt. Appellant, who was subsequently identified by an eyewitness as the attacker, was apprehended by police shortly after the rape only a few blocks from the house where the
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 463]
incident occurred, wearing only dark pants and a tee shirt. A brown jacket, a print shirt and an orange scarf were found discarded in various alleys near the scene of the incident. Tests performed on the victim revealed the presence of seminal fluid in her vagina, and tests performed on her underclothes showed that the semen was of blood type A, appellant's blood type. Tests performed on appellant's clothing revealed the presence of public hairs which exactly matched those of the victim. Although neither the victim nor the eyewitness could identify him positively at trial, there was testimony establishing that appellant was the man who had been identified as the rapist at the time of the incident, and showing that drastic changes in his hairstyle and facial hair might account for the difficulty in making the in-court identification.
Viewed as a whole, we think that the Commonwealth's evidence, presented by credible eyewitnesses and experts, was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of the crimes charged. We therefore find the verdict to be entirely in accordance with the law and the evidence, and reject appellant's first four claims.
His remaining four claims are: (1) the court erred in refusing to suppress the identification of appellant by the victim's companion and the physical evidence seized from appellant; (2) that the court erred in denying appellant's petition to dismiss under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 1100; (3) that the court erred in ordering appellant to try on articles of clothing in the presence of the jury; and (4) that the court erred in admitting a blue print shirt and a knife into evidence. We reject all of these arguments and affirm the judgment of sentence.
Appellant's first contention is that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress physical evidence seized from him and testimony as to the identification by the victim's companion of appellant as the attacker. In ...