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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GARY LEE ROBERSON (02/24/84)

filed: February 24, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GARY LEE ROBERSON, APPELLANT



No. 1608 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Philadelphia County at Nos. 1029, 1030 and 1032 July 1975.

COUNSEL

Margaret M. Boyce, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Jane Cutler Greenspan, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wickersham, Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Wickersham

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 439]

Gary Lee Roberson is presently serving a term of imprisonment of not less than ten nor more than twenty years based upon convictions obtained in a jury trial conducted in March of 1976 before the Honorable Lawrence Prattis. Roberson's convictions included robbery and rape. A direct appeal to our court resulted in an affirmance of the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Roberson, 258 Pa. Super. 471, 393 A.2d 455 (1978) (allocatur denied).*fn1

A fair distillation of the underlying facts was presented in appellee's brief as follows:

Defendant, a prisoner, seeks collateral relief from his sentences for a notorious and atrocious crime. Defendant and his co-defendants were convicted for breaking into, ransacking and attempting to burn the Porreca

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 440]

    home, for assaulting and robbing the Porreca family, and for raping and sodomizing the women.

On the evening of January 12, 1975, Roland Porreca answered the doorbell at his home in Philadelphia (N.T. 32), and defendant burst into the house with several other men. When one of the intruders smashed a flower pot over Mr. Porreca's head (N.T. 34), his wife, Diane, attempted to assist him, but was thrown to the floor (N.T. 154). The men then ransacked the house (N.T. 35, 154).

Leslie, the Porreca's seventeen year old daughter, was upstairs in her bedroom doing her homework when she heard the commotion (N.T. 90-91). She attempted to call police on an upstairs phone, but found the line disconnected (N.T. 91). One of the intruders accosted Leslie, demanded money and slapped her (N.T. 95). At knifepoint, he forced her to go downstairs where her parents had been forced to lie on the living room floor (N.T. 36, 95). Leslie identified defendant from her good view of him at this time (N.T. 103-107).

One of the robbers took Leslie to the foyer and forced her to lie down and undress (N.T. 95-96). The man tried to rape Leslie (N.T. 96), then demanded more money and forced her to look throughout the house for it (N.T. 96). He took her to a utility room, forced her to lie down again, told her to 'grind,' and then lay on top of her (N.T. 98).

While Leslie was being assaulted, her parents were brutalized by defendant and his companions. Both were forced to lie on the floor. When Mrs. Porreca attempted to escape, she was thrown back on the floor, beaten and kicked in the head (N.T. 166). Her hands were tied behind her back (N.T. 156). Roland Porreca was kicked and beaten about the head (N.T. 155). One of the vandals put a gun to his groin and told him, '. . . your wife' (N.T. 37, 156). When Mr. Porreca refused, the man said, 'I'll do it' (N.T. 37). One of the men began tearing Mrs. Porreca's clothes off (N.T. 157). As Mr. Porreca rose to protect her he was knocked unconscious (N.T. 38). He

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 441]

    lay helpless on the floor as defendant's accomplices raped his wife who lay beside him.

One of the men held Diane Porreca's legs apart as another raped her while a gun was held to her head (N.T. 157-158). She was forced to turn over on her stomach and was stabbed in the upper thigh (N.T. 158). She was raped and buggered repeatedly (N.T. 158, 332), while defendant sat on her unconscious husband (N.T. 159). Defendant stuck his fingers into her vagina and anus and said, 'She stinks' (N.T. 159).

The beatings inflicted by defendant and his companions seriously injured both Diane and Roland Porreca. Roland Porecca was beaten so badly about the head and face that he was unable to wear glasses for a week. He sustained lacerations and bruises of the head, face and arm (N.T. 49). In addition to the stab wound, Diane Porreca incurred a broken wrist (N.T. 327), lacerations of the head (N.T. 326), and extensive injuries of her genitals and anus (N.T. 329).

Defendant and his accomplices also robbed the Porreca family, taking jewelry, money, a radio, a camera and other items (N.T. 45, 101, 167). In addition, Leslie's high school ring was pulled from her finger just as her mother's wedding band was [w]renched from her finger (N.T. 101, 166).

When her tormentors finally left, Mrs. Porreca ran out of the house wearing the only clothing the attackers had left on her body -- her torn blouse (N.T. 106-161). Leslie, not aware her mother had left, looked for her in the living room. Not finding her there she looked up the stairway, and saw the reflection of flames where her bedroom had been (N.T. 99). Defendant and his accomplices had set five separate fires in the house (N.T. 232).

Defendant, then 17 years, 5 months old, was arrested on January 23, 1975, and, following police consultation with his mother, was taken to the Police Administration Building for questioning. He confessed his part in these atrocious crimes.

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 442]

After a certification hearing, defendant was transferred to stand trial as an adult. Following litigation of numerous pre-trial motions, defendant was tried before the Honorable Lawrence Prattis and a jury from March 10 to March 16, 1976. Defendant was convicted of arson, rape, attempted rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, weapons offenses, and conspiracy (Indictment Nos. 1028-1033, 1035-1039, July Sessions, 1975). Post-verdict motions were denied and Judge Prattis sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of ten to twenty years imprisonment for the robbery of Roland Porreca (No. 1029), the robbery of Diane Porreca (No. 1030), and the rape of Diane Porreca (No. 1032).

Defendant, by the Defender Association of Philadelphia, appealed to this Court which affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Roberson, 258 Pa. [Super.] ...


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