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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN RUZA (06/23/86)

decided: June 23, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN RUZA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Judgment of the Superior Court at No. 2711 Philadelphia 1982 Reversing the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County at No. 6747 of 1979, 329 Pa. Superior Ct. 567, 478 A.2d 896 (1984).

COUNSEL

John A. Reilly, Dist. Atty., Helen Kane, Dennis C. McAndrews, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellant.

Dennis Woody, Media, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Hutchinson, J., filed a concurring opinion. Zappala, J., concurred in the result.

Author: Papadakos

[ 511 Pa. Page 61]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appeals, by allowance, the Superior Court Order which, by unreported Memorandum Opinion of Spaeth, P.J., Beck and Tamilia, JJ., reversed the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, quashed the information, and discharged the Appellee, 329 Pa. Super. 567, 478 A.2d 896 (1984). The basis of the action of Superior Court was that Appellee had not been provided a preliminary hearing.

The facts of the case are as follows: During the early morning hours of May 20, 1979, Appellee entered Valle's Steakhouse in Springfield Township, Delaware County. Appellee had been dating one of the restaurant's employees, Cindy Contina, for several months and had been in the restaurant three to four times a week over that period to meet her at closing time. Appellee was, therefore, well known to the restaurant's staff and, on occasion, had long conversations with the restaurant manager, Frederick Holder.

On this particular occasion, Appellee inquired concerning Cindy Contina and was advised that she had already departed. Appellee then left the office and, Mr. Holder presumed, left the restaurant. A few minutes later, while the manager was still on the phone, Appellee reappeared and invited Mr. Holder to accompany him for a drink. Mr. Holder declined, indicating he had an early morning the following day. Appellee left and re-entered the office a third time, about four minutes later. The manager was no longer telephoning and was told by Appellee: "Fred, you've been set up, I'm holding you up." Appellee had come armed with a French chef's knife with a blade some ten to twelve

[ 511 Pa. Page 62]

    inches long. As Mr. Holder started to object, Appellee slashed his right arm.

The manager, now fearing for his life and with Appellee holding the knife against his chest, opened the restaurant safe, which contained Saturday's and Sunday's receipts approximating $20,000.00. Appellee took the money and Mr. Holder's wristwatch. During this incident, Appellee held the knife to Mr. Holder's neck and told him that if the robbery was reported, Appellee would kill him, his fiance, and Cindy Contina. Appellee then exited the restaurant. Mr. Holder called the police and was taken to the hospital.

Appellee fled the jurisdiction, first to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and then to the southern United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified, and a Federal Flight to Avoid Prosecution Warrant was issued for Appellee's arrest. Almost two years later, on February 6, 1981, Appellee was arrested in the State of Georgia, ...


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