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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GREGORY BROWN (11/20/84)

decided: November 20, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
GREGORY BROWN, APPELLANT



No. 108 E.D. Appeal Docket 1983, Appeal from Superior Court's Order at 264 Philadelphia 1980 dated April 22, 1983, affirming the Order of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas dated October 14, 1981, No. 362 May Term, 1979, Pa. Superior Ct. Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Hutchinson, J., concurred in the result. Zappala, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Larsen, J., joined.

Author: Papadakos

[ 506 Pa. Page 172]

Opinion OF THE COURT

This is the appeal of Gregory Brown from the Superior Court's Order, Commonwealth v. Brown, 314 Pa. Superior Ct. 226, 460 A.2d 1111 (1983), affirming a Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court's Order entered on October 14, 1981, by the Honorable Marvin R. Halbert, finding Appellant guilty of Robbery, a Felony in the Third Degree, and sentencing him to one and one-half to five years of confinement.

Appellant was arrested on December 1, 1978, and charged under a juvenile petition with Robbery, Theft, and Receiving Stolen Property. On May 2, 1979, despite the fact that Appellant was a minor when arrested, the Honorable Doris M. Harris of the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court certified that Appellant stand trial as an adult. Following the Certification Order, Appellant was charged in the Criminal Trial Division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas with the crime of robbery.

A motion to suppress the Commonwealth's evidence was presented and denied on September 19, 1979, before Judge Halbert, this testimony being later incorporated as part of the trial. A motion to recuse the suppression judge as trial

[ 506 Pa. Page 173]

    judge was denied,*fn1 and Appellant's case was listed for trial on November 1, 1979, before Judge Halbert sitting as the factfinder.

Appellant was convicted of Robbery as a Third Degree Felony and, after receiving a sentence of one and one-half to five years incarceration, timely filed a notice of appeal to the Superior Court. Superior Court affirmed and this appeal followed.

Appellant now argues 1) that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to establish that he committed a robbery "by force however slight," and 2) that the Superior Court affirmed the trial court on the "force however slight" finding from evidence adduced at a preliminary hearing and not at Appellant's trial.

Our review of the record indicates an uncomplicated factual pattern which can easily be summarized. The victim had just cashed a check for $221.00, which she placed in her purse. She left her bank, visited a doctor in a nearby clinic, and as she left from the doctor's office heard running steps behind her. The purse slung over her arm was grabbed and she saw Appellant run away from her with the purse. No one else was adjacent to her. She began screaming. Appellant argues that this is insufficient to establish "force however slight" and that the robbery conviction against him cannot stand. We disagree.

The crime of robbery is currently defined in the Crimes Code, Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334 § 1, as amended, June 24, 1976, P.L. 425, No. 102 § 1, immediately effective 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701, and provides as follows:

3701. Robbery

(a) Offense defined. --

(1) A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:

(i) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;

[ 506 Pa. Page 174]

(ii) threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate ...


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