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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GEORGE HART (10/23/85)

submitted: October 23, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GEORGE HART, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA V. ANN ROBINSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of July 10, 1984, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at Nos. 2121, 2122, 2124, 2125, 2126 and 2127, Jan 1983. Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of July 10, 1984, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at Nos. 2114, 2115, 2117, 2118, 2119, 2120 Jan 1983.

COUNSEL

Daniel H. Greene, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Robert B. Lawler, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.

Rowley, Hester and Lipez, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 119]

George Hart and Ann Robinson both appeal a five to ten-year sentence for third degree murder and related offenses arising from the merciless abuse of two of their children which resulted in the death of a three-year-old daughter, Misty, and serious injuries to a two-year-old son, Leif. Appellants raise three issues challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. We hold that there is sufficient evidence to support the convictions and affirm the judgments of sentence.*fn1

On January 5, 1983, in response to a call, Philadelphia police arrived at appellants' residence where Hart was holding his daughter, Misty Hart, in his arms. The three-year-old child appeared to have been beaten; her face was bruised and swollen. Hart told the officers that Misty had fallen from her crib and that he had beaten her because she would not eat and was "bad." The police took Hart and the child to the hospital, while his common-law wife, Robinson, remained at home with the couple's four other children.

At the hospital, doctors considered Misty to be in critical condition. She was transferred to a children's hospital for surgery, but died within hours. Her father was taken into custody at the hospital and transported to the police station. En route, Hart told the officers that he had beaten the baby to make her eat.

While in custody, Hart gave two statements to homicide detectives which were introduced at appellants' bench trial. He admitted having beaten his daughter repeatedly during the preceding week because she had a cold and would not eat. He hit the child with a belt, and spanked her on the legs, arms, buttocks and back. He also slapped her numerous times in the face with sufficient force to knock her down. He denied that anyone other than he and his wife had beaten Misty and stated that both "smacked her in the

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 120]

    face." Hart claimed that Misty had fallen several times from her bed the night before her death, so he put her in a crib from which she had again fallen.

Robinson was tried as Hart's co-defendant. On the day of Misty's death, Robinson had given a written statement to police which was also introduced in evidence. She denied knowing how Misty suffered her head wound, although she had earlier told the police that she, rather than Hart, had beaten Misty. Robinson acknowledged beating Misty repeatedly during the six months prior to her death with a belt, a shoe and a paddle. She admitted seeing marks on the child as a result of the beatings. She also admitted beating Leif with a belt, a shoe and a paddle.

In appellants' residence, detectives found a crib and several beds formed of milk crates. There was virtually no other furniture in the apartment, nor was there any food. An officer found appellants' two-year-old son, Leif, in bed. His legs and feet were swollen and inflamed, his stomach distended, his ribs protruding. There was a lump on his head, a scar over his right eye, a burn scar on his right knee, whip marks, a belt buckle scar on his back, and ...


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