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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BRUCE PERSON (09/06/85)

filed: September 6, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
BRUCE PERSON, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE MARCH 9, 1984 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. 2561-65 JUNE TERM, 1982

COUNSEL

Seymore H. Johnson, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Anna Hom, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cavanaugh, Cirillo and Hester, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 343]

Following a jury trial, appellant Bruce Person was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and possessing an instrument of crime. The conviction stemmed from the death of his wife, Beatrice Person. After denial of post-verdict motions, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and to concurrent prison terms of two and a half to five years for aggravated assault and one to two years for the weapons offense. This appeal followed.

The testimony presented at trial indicated that on May 5, 1982, at approximately 2:50 p.m., Person went to the coffee shop where his wife worked to speak with her. Their conversation ended in argument soon thereafter and the decedent walked back into the rear of the shop. Person quickly followed her and, as he entered the kitchen, he picked up a utensil and began stabbing her repeatedly.

[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 344]

Dorothy Garland, the decedent's grandmother, was sitting in the apartment over the shop when she heard someone yelling for help. Mrs. Garland ran downstairs to the shop where she found Person kneeling over the decedent, stabbing her. Person then proceeded to slash Mrs. Garland across the arm with a knife.

A 13-year old boy who had been working in the coffee shop approached a Mr. James Long, located across the street, for assistance. Long ran to the coffee shop where he found Mrs. Garland holding her arm and a man leaning over a young woman striking at her. The man physically engaged Long, striking him repeatedly about the face and chest with his fists. Long retaliated, but the man escaped. Although Long was unable to identify the man who struck him, he did state that they were the only people present in the shop at the time.

The police arrived at the scene at approximately 3:40 p.m. where they found the decedent lying on the floor unconscious. An ambulance was summoned to transport the victim to the hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival as a result of multiple stab wounds. Person was arrested that same evening.

Appellant's first contention is that the crime of murder was not properly explained to the jury. Specifically, appellant argues that the definition of malice given by the trial court was grossly in error in that the court defined malice and intent as one and the same. Thus, appellant submits, the court told the jury that intent is the only element necessary to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, thereby relieving ...


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