Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Lebanon County at Nos. 96 & 97 of 1983.
John C. Tylwalk, Assistant Public Defender, Lebanon, for appellant.
John E. Feather, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Lebanon, for Com., appellee.
Wickersham, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ.
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 212]
Tracy L. Sheffy was tried before the Honorable G. Thomas Gates, President Judge, and a jury, in July 1983 and was found guilty of arson, damage to property, and arson, injury to person, and murder in the third degree.
On July 27, 1984, Judge Gates sentenced Tracy L. Sheffy to prison for a term of not less than 10 years nor more than 20 years. This direct appeal, in which appellant is represented by trial counsel, John C. Tylwalk, Esquire, brings the following issues before us:
A. Did the trial court err in refusing to suppress Miss Sheffy's statement?
B. Did the trial court err in refusing Miss Sheffy's request to sequester the jury?
C. Was the verdict against the weight of the evidence?
D. Did the trial court err in permitting testimony concerning a previous fire which occurred at 15-19 South Railroad Street, on December 9, 1982?
E. Did the trial court err in permitting Thomas Brough to testify about acts and conduct of Tracy Sheffy which occurred prior to the fire on December 24, 1982?
F. Did the trial court err in permitting testimony concerning various incidents that were reported to Palmyra Police by Tracy Sheffy prior to December 24, 1982?
Brief for Appellant at 27.
The Commonwealth filed a motion to modify sentence and took an appeal from the trial court's refusal to do so, and has filed a cross-appeal, with the following issue:
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 213]
G. Did the sentencing court impose an unlawful sentence when it failed to impose a separate sentence for each of four (4) counts of third degree murder and two (2) counts of arson and instead imposed one sentence for all six (6) offenses by holding that all of the offenses merged for purposes of sentencing?
Brief for the Commonwealth at 2.
In his opinion dated July 3, 1984, Judge Gates reviewed the facts underlying this appeal. He said:
"The evidence adduced at trial discloses that around 3:30 a.m. on December 24, 1982, someone poured a flammable liquid on the brick floor of the foyer of the Palm Plaza Apartment Building situate[d] at 15-19 South Railroad Street in the Borough of Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, and set it on fire. The result was devastating; the building, which consisted of two floors, with four offices and one apartment on the first floor and seven apartments on the second floor, was completely destroyed. Four persons, Marlin Slaybaugh, Blanche Lingle, Ruth Ann Falco and John Falco, lost their lives as a result of smoke inhalation. They had been tenants of the second floor apartments. The defendant, an eighteen (18) year old single woman, was also a ...