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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JERRY E. KARL (01/21/85)

submitted: January 21, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JERRY E. KARL, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of York County at No. 1560 C.A. 1981, No. 00454 Harrisburg 1983

COUNSEL

William H. Poole, Jr., York, for appellant.

Thomas L. Donahoe, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Popovich, Watkins and Lipez, JJ. Lipez, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Popovich

[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 495]

This is an appeal by the appellant, Jerry E. Karl, from the judgment of sentence for the summary offenses of driving an unregistered vehicle ($25.00 fine plus costs of prosecution) and leaving the scene of an accident ($25.00 fine plus costs of prosecution). We affirm in part and reverse in part.

The evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict-winner, reveals that at approximately 10:20 p.m. on the 22nd of September, 1981, the appellant was driving his girlfriend's (Elaine Marden's) Chevette at a rate of 2-3 miles per hour in order to coax her back into the vehicle. She refused his importunings and continued to walk on the sidewalk with him driving along side of her. The end result of this lover's quarrel was that the appellant struck a vehicle driven by Michael E. Grove. The appellant left the scene and Mr. Grove pursued long enough to secure the striking vehicle's license number. Mr. Grove, with his two passengers, returned to the scene to pick up some of the debris left on the street from the accident. By this time the police had arrived on the scene and obtained a description of the fleeing vehicle from Grove, his passengers and the appellant's girlfriend, who was still at the site.

During questioning by the police, Grove happened to look down the street and observed the appellant standing on the corner. Grove reacted by telling the police, "Over there he is." Appellant's girlfriend confirmed this and called over to the appellant, but "he stood there. That was it." However, when he started to walk away, the two officers "ran after him[ and] caught up to Mr. Karl as he was opening the driver's door to a dark green Chevette bearing the registration which [they] had been given." The appellant was then placed under arrest and taken down to headquarters and charged with various offenses, only two of which are at issue here.

On the charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving an attended vehicle (75 P.S. § 3743), we find that

[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 496]

    sufficient evidence was presented by the prosecution to warrant affirmation of the sentence imposed. For example, testimony from Grove, his two passengers, the appellant's girlfriend and even the appellant confirmed the occurrence of a collision. The only explanation proffered by the accused was that he did not realize that an accident had occurred until minutes after leaving the scene. When he returned, on one occasion he claims, no one was present. The trier of fact, being the ultimate arbiter on this credibility question, disbelieved the appellant's version. We see no reason to overturn such a finding when it is supported by the record. Commonwealth v. Penn, 497 Pa. 232, 439 A.2d 1154 (1982).

We reach a different result in regard to the conviction of driving an unregistered vehicle. The statute in question reads:

It is a summary offense for any person to drive or for an owner knowingly to permit to be driven upon any highway any vehicle of a type required to be registered under this chapter which is not registered or for which the appropriate fee has not been paid when and as required in this title.

The Act of June 17, 1976, P.L. 162, No. 81, § 1, effective July 1, 1977; 75 P.S. § 1301.

At trial, the following evidence is the sole basis for the driving an unregistered ...


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