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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES J. GRISCAVAGE (11/17/86)

decided: November 17, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
CHARLES J. GRISCAVAGE, APPELLEE



Appeal from an Order of the Superior Court at 2504 Philadelphia, 1983, reversing a judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County at No. 101 of 1983

COUNSEL

James E. Carlson, Dist. Atty., for appellant.

Robert E. Dalton, Jr., Public Defender, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Nix, C.j., concurs in the result. Zappala, J., files a dissenting opinion. Flaherty, J., notes his dissent.

Author: Mcdermott

[ 512 Pa. Page 542]

OPINION

Appellee was convicted by a jury on charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol,*fn1 driving on the wrong side of the road,*fn2 reckless driving,*fn3 and driving at an unsafe speed,*fn4 in the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County on July 20, 1983. Citing grounds of insufficiency of the evidence and erroneous jury instructions, he filed post-verdict motions for a new trial and arrest of judgment which were denied. Judgment of sentence was imposed on August 25, 1983, following which he appealed to Superior Court.

[ 512 Pa. Page 543]

A panel of that court, in an opinion by Judge Montemuro, held the evidence was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol, and reversed the trial court's judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Griscavage, 336 Pa. Super. 141, 485 A.2d 470 (1984). We granted the Commonwealth leave to appeal.

The sole issue here involves the sufficiency of the evidence. The test for reviewing a sufficiency claim on appeal from a conviction is well established.

[W]hether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . The Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence . . . Moreover, in applying the above test, the entire trial record must be evaluated and all evidence actually received must be considered . . . Finally, the trier of fact, while passing upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be afforded the evidence produced, is free to believe all, part or none of the evidence. (Citations omitted.)

Commonwealth v. Harper, 485 Pa. 572, 576-77, 403 A.2d 536, 538-39 (1979).

The salient facts of the case are these. Officer Young of the Wellsboro Police Department observed a Chevrolet traveling in gross excess of the posted speed limit at 12:40 A.M. on January 30, 1983, in Wellsboro. He entered his cruiser and gave chase. As the pursued vehicle was entering a curve about a quarter of a mile ahead of him he saw its brake lights go on and observed that it was over the center line of the highway. On rounding the curve he saw that the pursued vehicle had collided with a vehicle in the oncoming lane. He entered the ...


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