No. 641 Pittsburgh 1981, APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE OF APRIL 28, 1981 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. CC7906857, CC7907090
John A. Halley, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Kenneth J. Benson, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cavanaugh, Rowley and Cirillo, JJ.
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Appellant Richard Lee Olds was tried before the Honorable Samuel Strauss and a jury in Allegheny County and was convicted of second degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in the shooting death of Thomas Beitler. Post-trial motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. Several issues are raised in this appeal.
Appellant first contends that the trial court erred in failing to grant a demurrer at the close of the Commonwealth's case. Because appellant's counsel did not rest following the adverse ruling on the demurrer but instead presented a case in defense, a challenge to the correctness of this ruling on appeal can be considered only as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence as a whole. Commonwealth v. Ilgenfritz, 466 Pa. 345, 353 A.2d 387 (1976). The verdict winner is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences upon which a jury might have relied, and resolution of factual conflicts will not be disturbed on appeal as long as there is support in the record for the verdict. Commonwealth v. Bachert, 499 Pa. 398, 453 A.2d 931 (1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1043, 103 S.Ct. 1440, 75 L.Ed.2d 797 (1983).
Reviewed in this light, the record reveals that on the night of October 9, 1979, Claude Bonner, Roderick Todd Allen, and Richard Lee Olds were riding around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in Claude Bonner's car. Bonner asked Allen
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if he had a pistol and suggested robbing the Fort Wayne Cigar Store, an all-night general store in the vicinity. Allen responded by pointing a pistol at Bonner and saying, "You just get a person coming off down the street."
At some point after this, Olds told Bonner that he was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. Bonner then drove to the Fort Wayne Cigar Store and parked in a side street. Olds got out of the car, followed closely by Allen, who said on his way out, "I'm going to rob the store." Olds's reply to this was "Yeah, right."
The two young men entered the store together and Olds walked to the back to purchase a bag of potato chips. Allen remained standing by the door until Olds reached the register. Allen then made an unintelligible remark to Olds and walked out the door, immediately preceded by Thomas Beitler, the only other customer in the store.
Eric Shaerer, who was alerted by a shot as he was walking toward the Fort Wayne Cigar Store, saw no one other than Allen and Beitler in the vicinity. Beitler was holding his wallet out toward Allen saying, "Here, take my wallet." Allen then fired two more shots, point blank, and Beitler staggered backward into the Fort Wayne Cigar Store, still holding the wallet.
Claude Bonner pulled out to drive away after hearing the first shot, but was prevented from leaving when Olds ran out in front of the car. Olds and Allen then got back into the car. After they were both inside Allen said to Olds, "It was your fault I shot him." Olds denied this and Allen continued, "You was supposed to grab the wallet," to which Olds made no further response. Taking a ...